Saturday, November 21, 2009

(Gluten-free) brew day: Piper at the Gates Saison

As I've discussed previously, my buddy Pete (pictured in the label to the right) is gluten-intolerant and occasionally I like to brew gluten-free beer for him. It's fun for me because I get to do some outside-of-the-box thinking, and it's fun for him because my gluten-free beers are better than anything currently on the market (or so he claims). In the past I've brewed White Riot Gluten-Free Witbier and Folsom Prison Gluten-Free Stout (which actually came out more like a porter).

Pete liked the Wit more than the porter, and I think that beer worked particularly well for two reasons. First, the spices in the Wit mask the unique character of the sorghum syrup. Second, the one character of sorghum syrup that's hard to hide is a slight tartness, and a slight lacto bite is appropriate for a Witbier. Well, this time around I decided to go with another style that has a similar spicy, slightly tart character: Saison. And thus, Piper at the Gates Saison was born (yes, I'm sticking with the music theme for my gluten-free beers; if you don't know what I'm talking about, you need to purchase this).

One of my favorite Saisons is Hennepin, so I started with the BYO clone recipe. I tweaked the spices a little and changed the yeast but here's the recipe I'm planning on brewing at this point:
  • 6.6 lbs. sorghum syrup
  • 1 lb. cane sugar
  • 1 lb. dark brown sugar
  • 8 oz. maltodextrin
  • 6.5 AAU Styrian Golding hops (bittering hop)
  • 1.75 AAU Saaz hops (aroma hop)
  • 1 tsp. Irish moss
  • 1/2 oz. dried ginger root
  • 1/4 tsp. grains of paradise
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 oz. coriander
  • 1 oz. bitter orange peel
  • White Labs WLP500 (Trappist Ale) yeast
  • 3/4 cups corn sugar (for priming)
One of the nice things about gluten-free brew days is that after brewing 10-gallon all-grain batches for the past three years, it's a quick and easy brew day. The problem, as I learned today, is that when it's quick and easy you can make rookie mistakes. And I made three.

Things went pretty well early on. I brought 2.5 gallons of water to a boil (as I cut my 5-gallon recipe in half), added the sorghum, cane sugar and brown sugar as well as 2 oz. of Spalter Select hops (I went with Spalter Select because they were old and I didn't trust them for flavor/aroma hopping; I assumed 90% of their alpha acid as well due to aging).

Mistake #1: at twenty-five minutes I realized that I was supposed to augment the 2 oz. of Spalter Select hops with .4 oz. of the Saaz hops (with the rest of the Saaz added at knockout). I added them at that point but according to Beersmith that'll drop my bitterness by two IBU's and may contribute a flavor I wasn't planning on.

At fifteen minutes I added Irish moss and yeast nutrient and submerged my buddy's immersion chiller (I figured using the plate chiller for 2.5 gallons was overkill). I ground the coriander, black pepper and grains of paradise in a coffee grinder and got the ginger ready to go as well. At five minutes I added the spices.

Mistake #2: as I started to type this blog post, I realized I forgot the bitter orange peel. Fortunately this is a Saison, not a Witbier, so it'll change the character somewhat but won't take it out of style.

At knockout I added the final 0.6 oz. of Saaz hops and turned on the water to the wort chiller.

Mistake #3: I thought I had my thermometer between the coils such that my reading should be fairly characteristic of the wort overall. Apparently I was wrong because I thought I chilled it to 80°F but it turns out it was really around 100°F. And, because I'm an idiot, I added the yeast and THEN measured the temperature.

The good news is the Trappist yeast is supposed to be fairly temperature tolerant, so I threw the carboy in my chest freezer (which is around 40°F) and I'll pull it out once it gets down to around 75°F. I guess we'll see how it affects the flavor profile.

So there you have it. Gluten-free beer #3 is complete, even if it wasn't exactly as planned.

UPDATE: I was able to get the temperature down to 75°F in about two hours, and 30 hours later I'm seeing signs of fermentation so I think everything will be okay. :-)

UPDATE II: You can read my final analysis of the beer here.


Blogger Señor Brew™ said...

Ahh, mistakes. It's not a brew day without them.

I'll have to make a sorghum beer for H. While she doesn't have celiac, gluten does not treat her well--call her gluten intolerant--she can only have it in small quantities. She likes Saison too, so let me know how it turns out.

Of course I have about 7 months to work on one, since she's not drinking right now. It was too early to tell people at Novemberfest, but we figure it's o.k. now. Yes, Señor Brew™ is joining the Daddy Club.

9:38 PM, November 21, 2009  
Blogger Leah said...

Congratulations, Señor!

6:20 PM, November 22, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratters on your brew. I hope my son Pete will bring some home when he visits for Xmas. Congrats on your great name as well!

-Russ Smucker

7:21 PM, November 23, 2009  
Blogger Matt said...

Phew! Sounds like a good recipe for gluten-free. We're aging a porter that used grains of paradise as well as black pepper - very curious to see how it turns out.

12:36 PM, November 30, 2009  

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