Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Trapper (American Farmhouse Ale) -- Brew Day

The saisons that I've been brewing recently have fallen into two categories: either huge dry-hop monsters or with brett added at fermentation or bottling.  These techniques have always resulted in great beers, but none of them have had the really great peppery characteristics of a "more traditional" saison.

I recently tried a few glasses of Goose Island Sophie on draft and I really loved its soft, fluffy character.  Although this beer is dosed to B. bruxellensis, enough of the base beer shines through to truly get a sense of its flavors.  According to the GI website, Sophie is hopped with Amarillo and is aged in white wine barrels.

I've taken these ideas and dropped them in to my "house" saison grain bill to try to get some different flavors.  I've had great results with this grain bill before and I'm really hoping the lower hop levels of this batch allow it to shine through even more.  This batch will be brett-free as I'm moving soon and can't commit the time needed to develop a nice, thoughtful brett beer.  That said, I'll definitely be looking at this one as a candidate for wild yeasts down the line...

The Trapper (American Farmhouse Ale)
5.5 gallon batch - 90 minute boil
Est OG: 1.058
Est FG: 1.006
Est ABV: 6.8%
IBU: 24
SRM: 4

9.0lb Pilsner Malt
1.5lb Rye Malt
1.5lb White Wheat Malt
1.0lb Flaked Oats
1.0lb Clear Candi Sugar (added after boil)

0.5oz Amarillo Gold @ FWH (15 IBU)
2.0oz Amarillo Gold @ Whirlpool 10 min (9 IBU)

0.5oz Medium Toast French Oak Cubes (soaked in Chardonnay) added post-fermentation

1250ml starter of Belgian Saison WY3724

Mash @ 148F for 75 minutes

Fermentation Schedule
1) Pitch in the mid-60s
2) Let free rise for 2 days to 72
3) Increase temp by 1-2 degrees daily up to 84
4) Drop down to 80 on day 10 and hold for two weeks

7/1/2014 -- Brewed by myself.  Mash pH came in a touch high at 5.5 so I dropped some acid (chuckle) to get it to 5.3.  I really like a bit of tartness in my saisons and some of this is contributed by the mash pH.  Gathered 8 gallons of 1.041 wort for a 72% efficiency, right on target.  Ended up with 5.5gal of 1.056 wort.  A few points off, but I was a little low on the mash efficiency.  My fermwrap has been hooked up and set to 72 on the second day.

7/7/2014 -- Added 0.5oz of Chardonnay-soaked medium toast French oak cubes.  Gravity down to 1.009.  Looks like I avoided the dreaded 3724 stall out.

7/15/2014 -- Gravity dropped down to 1.007.  Nice subtle complexity from the wood, not a ton of the spiciness that you get from a well-fermented saison with this yeast.  Going to keep it on the wood for a bit longer.

8/3/2014 -- Finished at 1.008.  Just a touch high.  Bottled with 5.1oz of corn sugar for 2.7vol CO2.  Taste was pretty good, with the chardonnay coming through quite strong on the finish.  Hard to detect a lot of wood at this point.

11/7/2014 -- And here are some tasting notes.

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