Monday, March 2, 2009

Petit Saison - and a rant about my job.

Free Range Monkey

Office Monkey

Once again, I was supposed to start interning at Sixpoint this weekend, but they recently had to take a break from brewing due to some renovations. So they brewed like crazy this week. Now they have all 4 fermenters full, and no beer ready to keg! Nothing to do, so the brewery was once again closed on Saturday. Looks like my first brewday with them will be on March 14th, which kind of sucks, but it also means I'll have my birthday weekend free and clear to set up the party and make sure all the bees are ready.

The 1 month lag wouldn't be a big deal, but I am just so ready to leave my current job that every delayed week feels like an eternity! Sixpoint may or may not turn into a real job, but at least it's a step in the right direction. Today there's a snowstorm, and there is jack shit to do here at my office-monkey job, so at least I have time to update my blog. I was talking to my friend Zeke the other day, telling him the best thing that could happen to me would be to get laid off, but I know that's not going to happen, because I'm too good of a worker, and I can't sabotage myself. So here I remain, glued to my chair until further notice.

I wanted to at least get a brew in this weekend. I feel like I'm sort of stocking up for when I'll be at the brewery every Saturday and I won't have much time to homebrew. So I had a packet of Wyeast 3724 Saison yeast and I really just made this beer for myself to drink, not really to style, but hopefully very much to my taste. I'm happy to announce that I'm off some of what I considered to be inferior saison yeasts (White Labs 566: Saison II, and Wyeast 3726: Farmhouse), and back to the classic Dupont strain.

This beer is designed to be a low alcohol drinker, and a base to grow yeast, with the next recipe being a re-do of the Saison 566 recipe that did OK in competition, but really just needed a better yeast. Then if the yeast is still clean and in good condition, I might do a black saison, which technically is not a new recipe because I brewed one way back in 2005 which was not really that good. This brew was done with all American hops, but not the classic "4 C's" varieties that are very citrusy. I used a high-alpha Magnum for bittering, and an American grown Goldings for flavor/aroma, to sort of get in line with a classic saison hop, but grown in the states. It is more piney than English Kent Goldings, but there is a similar floral aroma there too. The finish hop additions are pretty big for a saison, which is what I was going for.

The shittiest part of brewing on Saturday was, I set myself up with a LONG brewwday. I had to rack the IPA to get a carboy free, then I decided I might as well rack the "Saison Sans Pantalons" that got infected with the Berlinner Weisse yeast, and has been sitting on my shelf for like 7 months. I think the infected saison was probably a waste of time and should have gone down the drain, but the IPA tasted fantastic! The kegs took forever to clean. One was completely filthy, having recently been acquired from some hillbilly's garage. I had to wash off the spiders and dirt outside and dump out the remaining 4 year old Pepsi inside, break it apart and scrub the hell out of it.

I mashed in at 2:00 p.m. and took a break before boiling to eat at a local bar (accompanied by a Racer 5 IPA). I finished cleaning after 10:00! Christ...this is supposed to be fun!

Recipe is for 7 gallons pre-boil, 6 gallons post boil, 5.25 in the fermenter
O.G. 1.048 F.G. 1.008 5% ABV IBU's 26

8 lb. Durst Pils Malt
1 lb. Wheat Malt
8 oz. Raw Spelt
4 oz. Aromatic Malt
2 oz. Melanoidin Malt
1/2 oz. carafa special II (for color and "pH balance" - wasn't that a shampoo commercial?)

All whole hops:
12 gr. US Magnum 14% 60 min
28 gr. US Goldings 5% 10 min
35 gr. US Golings 5% 0 min

Wyeast 3724

Mash: 3.75 gallons + 1 tsp gypsum. Total time 105 min.
130 for 15 min, raised to 150 over 10 min
150 for 60 minutes, fell to 145. Raised to 160 over 10 min
160 for 10 min, raised to 170 over 5 min

Sparge: 4.5 gallons at 170. Collected 6.75 gallons at 1.042 = 82% efficiency

Boil 90 minutes, adding 3 cups of top-up water during the boil
Whirlfoc at 15 min
1/2 tsp Wyeast nutrient at 10 min

Chilled to 66, whirlpooled 20 minutes, and racked to a carboy.
Aerated by hand for 8 min.
Pitched 1 quart starter (with liquid) made on a stirplate at 68 degrees.
Fermentation peaked at 76 degrees, and then fell back to 72. I am not rushing this one so I'm just letting it hang out there.

Racked to keg on 3/30/09. Amazingly (or unamazingly) this beer is still at 1.010! The yeast is still working but it seems like the low ferment temp was just making it limp along. I attached a heating pad to the outside of the keg to push it through the final fermentation. I think it may help with the flavor/aroma too.

5/14/09 This beer turned out really fantastic as a session saison, and it was incredibly clear. The only recipe adjustment I might make is to ferment a little higher for more yeast complexity. I'll try to post an official tasting soon.

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