Saturday, June 30, 2012

Brew day: Saison D'Etre

Back in the dark ages, before Leah and I had kids, Leah brewed her first solo beer--a Saison that we called "Saison D'Etre"--and she ended up winning third place in her category in the 2005 Queen of Beer competition.

Fast forward to 2012. In a week we're having a joint birthday party for my oldest daughter (who's turning 6), my youngest daughter (who's turning 2) and my sister's two boys (she's due with her third in about a month, so we figured we would spare her the chore of throwing a birthday party while over eight months pregnant). However, due to poor planning (and the fact that the Roggenkölsch we brewed a few weeks ago is earmarked for a block party) we found ourselves in need of beer with only two weeks between our one available brew day and the party.

What could we brew that quickly? I have two go-to beers when I need something quick (our Step Leader Hefeweizen and our Village Green Mild Ale) but we've brewed both of those recently. Thinking of other options that are quick but also fairly accessible for non-beer-geeks, I suddenly remembered the Saison that Leah brewed. Perfect! Unfortunately, I didn't have the recipe handy (it was brewed when we were still doing extract batches and so I don't have records in Beersmith) but I decided to modify my gluten-free Piper at the Gates Saison, which I thought turned out pretty tasty. I also decided to simplify the spices, going with coriander, ginger and black pepper.

Compared to the multi-step, 90-minute-boil German beers I've been brewing lately, the brew day itself was a breeze. One 60-minute infusion at 146°F and a 60-minute boil. I yielded 10.5 gallons of wort at 1.060 (overshooting my target by two points). The only thing that slowed me down was that something clogged the pump a bit which led to a slower-than-usual flow through my plate chiller. It was a fairly hot day so I was only able to chill to around 70°F. I wanted to pitch cool and allow for a natural rise so I threw the beer in my chest freezer set to 60°F and didn't pitch until later that night.

I had fermentation the next morning with the ambient temperature around 64°F. Three days later I moved the beer up to our bedroom which is around 72°F (according to a refrigerator thermometer I have, though I'm skeptical because our thermostat was reading 76°F the other day and our bedroom is the hottest room in the house). I'm thinking of moving the beer to our closet (which is even hotter than the rest of our bedroom, as it abuts our attic) for the rest of fermentation, which I'm guessing will bring it closer to 80°F. Supposedly the yeast I used--WLP 566 Saison II--can take higher temps, and obviously I want it to finish as quickly as possible. I guess we'll see how it turned out in a week!


Blogger Adam said...

Well there Mr. Russ. I haven't been commenting on much Interweb stuff in the beer Blogosphere (is it still called that?) these days, but this one hit close to home. Just brewed a Saison myself. My first all grain batch in fact. Seemed super easy. Unwittingly followed your approach for the most part, except I mashed a bit higher due to lack of experience on my equipment. Next time I'm shooting lower to see if I can get something more fermentable. Finished around 1.014. Started fermentation around 65F in the basement and brought it to the garage after a while to expose it to some warmer temps. Use T-58 yeast which isn't particularly saisony, but, then again what is?

It was quick and tastie and seasonally appropriate. A new go to quick brew for me as well.

Here's to your brew! Cheers!

1:02 PM, June 30, 2012  
Blogger Adam said...

oops...subscribed to comments

1:04 PM, June 30, 2012  
Blogger Russ said...

Hey Adam... I actually saw the pic of your Saison (I think you posted it on twitter) right after I brewed mine. Yeah, 1.014 is a tad high but I'm sure it's still pretty tasty. Weird thing is half of my batch fermented nicely (~1.008) while the other carboy is still at 1.020. Goofy Belgian yeast...

11:36 AM, July 06, 2012  
Blogger Adam said...

Interesting, yeah I heard the saison yeasties can be kinda fickle. Also, in my case I may have rushed it a bit. I'm pretty sure one of the kegs fermented out a bit more. (totally subjective...only measured by taste)

1.020 well now, that seems kinda freaky. Coulda been lotsa stuff I guess. Might be fun taste testing them side by side.

7:50 PM, July 06, 2012  

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