Sunday, November 16, 2014

Le Fleau (American Farmhouse Ale) - Brew Day

Two winters ago I brewed a wonderful Saison that was spiked with Brettanomyces Clausenii.  It was a traditional Saison single-hopped with Czech Saaz throughout the boil.  I used the DuPont strain to ferment that one and pitched the vial of Brettanomyces c. once fermentation had subsided.  I let it bulk age for around 2 months and then bottled it in heavy Belgian bottles and finished it with a cork and cage.  After that beer had around another 4-5 months on it, it was just beautiful.

My goal today is to recreate that beer, however, I want to make it a little bit more complex.  I'll be borrowing the general grist from my house saison, throwing in a bit of rye and munich for some malt complexity.  I also usually add candy sugar, but I took that out (along with a change in the mash schedule) to leave some more complex sugars for the Brettanomyces.

In addition, the hop schedule is changing from strictly Saaz to a bittering charge of Hallertauer Mittelfrueh and a small pop of Cascade for a short whirlpool.  After this has the funk character that I'm looking for, I'll be dry hopping with one ounce each of Citra and Mosaic.

In order to supply some more complex sugar and other interesting molecules for the Brettanomyces, I changed up my mash schedule from a single, low-end temperature infusion to a step mash.  The first step will be a ferulic acid rest.  This rest is pretty common in German hefeweizens when you want to introduce a lot of clove character from the 4-vinyl guaiacol that this mash produces.  An interesting tidbit is that apparently Brettanomyces strains metabolize this molecule and poop out 4-ethyl guaiacol.  Basically they eat your clove and poop out more funk.  Delicious.  I'm also raising the saccharification rest to be a little higher than normal to encourage more complex sugar formation for the Brettanomyces to munch on and adding a small amount of French Oak cubes.

Brew day went pretty normally, except for my ridiculous mash efficiency courtesy of my new grain mill.  This time I got it up to 92%.  That's insane.  My whole brewhouse efficiency has improved to be better than my mash efficiency in the past.  Looks like I'll have to redesign every recipe I ever want to brew again.

Le Fleau (American Farmhouse Ale)
5.5 gallon batch -- 90 minute boil
Est OG: 1.058
Est FG: 1.004
Est ABV:
IBU: 25
SRM: 5

9.00lb Belgian Pilsner Malt
2.00lb Rye Malt
1.00lb Munich Malt
1.00lb White Wheat Malt

2.00oz Hallertauer Millefrueh @ 60 min (24 IBU)
1.00oz Cascade @ Steep 5 min (2 IBU)
1.00oz Citra @ Dry Hop 3 Days
1.00oz Mosaic @ Dry Hop 3 Days

1.25oz Medium Toast French Oak Cubes (added after fermentation subsides)

1 vial The Yeast Bay Saison Brettanomyces Blend

Mash Schedule
Ferulic Acid Rest - 113f for 15 minutes
Saccharification Rest - 154f for 60 minutes

11/15/2014 -- Brew day was pretty uneventful.  Used the new B&D drill for the barley crusher which was a little difficult to get right, but once I got the hang of it, it was MUCH better than hand cranking.  My mash efficiency came in at 92%, which basically threw the rest of the recipe to the high side in terms of OG.  All said, I gathered 5.5 gallons of 1.062 wort.  Could have been worse.

12/3/2014 -- Added 1.25 ounces of medium toast oak cubes after boiling them for 5 minutes.

12/30/2014 -- Dry hopped.  I audibled to 2 ounces of Mosaic as my 2014 crop of Citra hadn't arrived yet.

1/3/2015 -- Bottled.  Carbed to 3.0vol.  Finished out at 1.005.  Interesting character, very complex.  Will be fun to see how this one ages.


  1. Nice move on the Ferulic Acid rest, a few months ago I did the same on a top off batch for my Solera, I needed more funk so hopefully it works.

    1. I can't remember where I read to do this, probably from Tonsmiere somewhere. We'll see how it goes! I gotta start a solera one of these days.