Belgian Ale

Rye Saison Mk. III

It’s been getting warm here in the Northern Sacramento Valley, to say the least. Temperatures touching 107 F (in the first week of June), have many fearing mass extinctions, global warming, and the ever present flaming fucking hot steering wheel. When I see the thermometer getting up there I get excited, as this is the ideal time for me to brew up some tasty Saisons. I will forego the well-repeated history of the style, rising out of the Belgian-French border, Wallonia, and Les Saisoneres. A very useful resource for the history of Saison is Farmhouse Ales, by Phil Markowski, and my personal favorite. My first heat-defying brew, of what is sure to be a long and dry summer, is my third rendition of a Rye Saison that has quickly found a place in my heart… and my liver. This variation of the Rye Saison will utilize a different strain of yeast. In batches past, I used my go to farmhouse yeast, which is a bit of a mystery strain, isolated from bottles of Sierra Nevada’s Ovila Saison (the original Ovila Saison, not that Abbey Saison Mandarin Orange nonsense). This time I will be using Wyeast 3463 Forbidden Fruit. This is the same yeast I used in my Belgian Wit, Hermine, some posts back. It gave a lot of interesting characters of tart acidity, fruitiness, and a bit of spice in the Wit, and I am anxious to see how this translates with some Rye and Spelt. In a few weeks I plan to rack a portion into a secondary fermenter with four pounds of Mirabelle Plums taken from a tree in my back yard… and another tree, in someone else’s yard. The portion not added to secondary will go straight to bottle for control tasting. P1020516

Recipe Specifications

Batch Size (fermenter): 6.00 gal   
Bottling Volume: 5.75 gal
Estimated OG: 1.044 SG
Estimated Color: 3.1 SRM
Estimated IBU: 25.3 IBUs

Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
4 lbs 10.8 oz         Pilsen Malt 2-Row (Briess) (1.0 SRM)     Grain         1        51.9 %        
2 lbs 15.6 oz         Rye Malt (Briess) (3.7 SRM)              Grain         2        33.1 %        
13.6 oz               Spelt (3.0 SRM)                          Grain         3        9.4 %         
1.00 oz               East Kent Goldings (EKG) [6.70 %] - Firs Hop           4        23.9 IBUs     
8.0 oz                Candi Sugar, Clear (0.5 SRM)             Sugar         5        5.6 %         
1.00 oz               Crystal [3.50 %] - Boil 3.0 min          Hop           6        1.4 IBUs      
1.00 oz               Crystal [3.50 %] - Boil 0.0 min          Hop           7        0.0 IBUs      
1.0 pkg               Forbidden Fruit (Wyeast Labs #3463) [124 Yeast         8        -             

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Light Body, No Mash Out
Total Grain Weight: 9 lbs
Name              Description                                Step Temperat Step Time     
Protein Rest      Add 8.12 qt of water at 125.7 F            113.0 F       30 min        
Peptidase         Add 4.00 qt of water at 180.4 F            131.0 F       20 min        
Sacch             Add 4.12 qt of water at 210.3 F            148.0 F       30 min        
Mash Out          Decoct 6.38 qt of mash and boil it         168.0 F       15 min        

Sparge: Batch sparge with 4.72 gal water at 168.0 F

June 12, 2014: Brew Day: pretty straight forward brewday and it wasn’t even that unbearably hot. I guess brewing butt-naked wasn’t absolutely necessary, but hey, why not? OG – 1.046 5.5 Gallons collected, aerated for approx. 5 minutes (aquarium pump), yeast starter pitched, and carboy left to ferment at ambient temperatures in my spare bedroom (approx. 83 F) Fermentation took off in less than two hours.


June 29, 2014: 

Final Gravity down to 1.008

Bottled half of the batch with 5 tbsp of clover honey.

The other half of the batch was racked onto 4 lbs of Mirabelle Plums that had been sanitized, then frozen for a week, thawed, smooshed, and then dumped into a 3 gal carboy.


July 2, 2014:

P1020520                                             “We like plums.” – Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Le Fou

As you (yes! you!) will come to realize,  I do not make many dentin-melting, palate-raping IPAs. Even when I brew something hoppy, it is usually something that would leave "Hop-Heads" scratching their hoppy heads as to where their bitter-fix is (I have officially used more hyphens in this sentence, then I ever have in any sentence).
Long story short, I brewed a "hoppy" Belgian white session IPA thing... I guess a hoppy belgian single. I was inspired to brew it after hearing "white IPA" maybe four or five times in one day... and that's pretty much all it takes to get me to do anything. Now, the grist for this white IPA resembles that of a witbier, and for good reason too (wit= white). When selecting my hops, I skipped over the hops  completely and thought about which yeast I would use first. I have really been digging on the Wyeast Ardennes strain (#3522), and it was a pretty easy decision from there.
Okay, back to the hops. Now that I had my yeast picked out, I wanted to try and use hops that would work in conjunction with the Belgian yeast (primarily, I am talking about spiciness, as the Ardennes gives a nice, complex peppery finish). Sterling and Saaz were the first that came to mind. Saaz, a very traditional hop used in Belgian beers of many sorts for a long ass time, and Sterling (bred from Saaz) is renowned for its "spiciness." From there, I had a few ounces of Styrian Goldings on hand, an ounce of Sonnet (new hop, also bred from Saaz, but acts like a Goldings variety), and I wanted to try Aurora (Super Styrian) for the first time. I shied away from anything overly citrus-y, fruity, or floral, and wanted to go for a more spicy, earthy hop character... again, to work with the yeast.

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size (fermenter): 3.50 gal   
Estimated OG: 1.049 SG
Estimated Color: 4.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 49.2 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 80.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
3 lbs                 Pale Malt (2 Row) Bel (3.0 SRM)          Grain         1        46.2 %        
3 lbs                 Wheat - White Malt (Briess) (2.3 SRM)    Grain         2        46.2 %        
8.0 oz                Oats, Flaked (Briess) (1.4 SRM)          Grain         3        7.7 %         
0.33 oz               Aurora (Super Styrian Aurora) [9.30 %] - Hop           4        17.4 IBUs     
0.50 oz               Sterling [7.00 %] - Boil 20.0 min        Hop           5        10.9 IBUs     
1.00 oz               Saaz [3.80 %] - Boil 15.0 min            Hop           6        9.7 IBUs      
1.00 oz               Styrian Goldings [3.80 %] - Boil 10.0 mi Hop           7        7.1 IBUs      
1.00 oz               Saaz [3.80 %] - Boil 5.0 min             Hop           8        3.9 IBUs      
1.00 oz               Sonnet [3.80 %] - Boil 0.0 min           Hop           9        0.0 IBUs      
1.00 oz               Styrian Goldings [3.80 %] - Boil 0.0 min Hop           10       0.0 IBUs      
1.0 pkg               Belgian Ardennes (Wyeast Labs #3522) [12 Yeast         11       -             

Brewed Feb 23, 2014

Step Infusion Mash - 100, 122, 144, 154 -- No mash out. 
Original Gravity - 1.048
Pitched starter of Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes. 
Definitely needed a blow-off tube for this one, as it took off within a few hours. 
Fermentation temperatures: started at 70 F for 24 hours and then increased to 75 F for the remainder of Primary

- left in Primary for three weeks 

March 14, 2014 

Bottled with 3.0 oz of priming sugar, for a carbonation level of 3.0 Vol CO2. 
Color was very pale, but still a tad darker than I would have preferred (maybe I can call it an egg-shell white session IPA -ESWSIPA). 
Wort was still fairly cloudy at bottling, though that is likely due to a) the wheat used, and b) the amount of hops, though I did not dry hop. 
Sample taken tasted pretty good. Nice hoppiness, while not being overpowering. Can still detect a bit of character from the yeast on the back. 
Looking forward to trying this again once carbonated. 

Belgian White Session IPA... this beer may or may not have too many descriptors. Will come back with tasting notes when it is ready. Also, I neglected to snap a photo for this post. 
Ramblings 023

That is all for now comrades. Keep brewing whatever it is you like to brew, and I will do the same.

Tasting notes for this beer can be found here.


Rather than go back and try to recollect a bunch of details from a previous project/brew, I thought it would be better suited to make my first post on a current project, where all the details are fresh in my mind.
Hermine is a Belgian-inspired Witbier. My initial intent was to try a new yeast (Wyeast 3463 Forbidden Fruit), but soon I decided that I wanted to start playing with ginger in some of my brews. Then, not long after, I thought it might be interesting to add some juniper with the ginger. For whatever reason, I always want to brew with juniper, though I rarely do, so here was a chance to incorporate some into a beer.
The Plan : 
Brew a total of 5.5 gals of a base witbier (recipe below). Pitch my starter of the Forbidden Fruit, and implore my fermentation regime (69 F for 24 hrs, increase to 72 F for 24 hrs, and then increase to 75 F for remainder of fermentation). After a two week primary, three gallons will be racked into a secondary fermenter, on top of 0.5oz Crystallized Ginger, 0.5 Juniper Berries, and 0.5oz Bitter Orange Peel.  The rest of the volume from primary will be bottled at this point (for a control and get a true sense of the yeast, which I have not yet used). The volume being aged with ginger, juniper and orange peel, will sit for approx 2-3 weeks more before being bottled.
Recipe Specifications

Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal   

Estimated OG: 1.040 SG
Estimated Color: 3.5 SRM
Estimated IBU: 15.4 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %

Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
3 lbs                 Wheat, Torrified (1.7 SRM)               Grain         1        37.5 %        
3 lbs                 White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM)               Grain         2        37.5 %        
8.0 oz                Oats, Flaked (Briess) (1.4 SRM)          Grain         3        6.3 %         
1.00 oz               Sonnet [3.80 %] - First Wort 60.0 min    Hop           4        15.4 IBUs     
1 lbs 8.0 oz          Candi Syrup, Golden (5.0 SRM)            Extract       5        18.8 %        
1.0 pkg               Forbidden Fruit (Wyeast Labs #3463) [124 Yeast         6        -             
0.50 oz               Ginger      (Secondary 7.0 days)         Herb          7        -             
0.50 oz               Juniper Berries (Secondary 7.0 days)     Herb          8        -             
0.50 oz               Orange Peel, Bitter (Secondary 7.0 days) Spice         9        -  

Created with BeerSmith 2 -

Brewed Feb 19, 2014 -
Step Mash Schedule
Protein Rest at 121 F for 30 min.
Infusion of 7 qts water at 210 F to bring Sacchrification rest to 158 F, held for 45 min. 

OG - 1.043 - 
Pitched starter of Wyeast 3463 (Starter from wyeast smack pack). 
Fermentation started within a few hours at 69 F. 
After 24 hours, temperature increased to 72 F 
After 48 hours, temperature increased to 75 F

March 6, 2014
Gravity down to 1.010                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Racked 2.75 gal into secondary fermenter with 0.5 oz Crystallized ginger, 0.5 oz Bitter Orange Peel, and 0.5 oz 
crushed Juniper berries. Remaining ~2.5 gallons were bottled with 3.0 oz dextrose for approx 3.0 vols CO2. Tasting sample: Yeast produces a rather astounding array of black pepper spiciness and a sharp tart character. I think I am really going to enjoy this yeast for the foreseeable future.  

Will report back in a few weeks with tasting notes from the bottled portion, and an update on the portion in secondary.