It is done. It is in the glass. More specifically – and importantly – it is in my mouth. And it is good. It is the saison that Mr. Science and Homebrews, Christopher Wood and I collaborated on. And it is damn tasty, if I do say so myself. And I do not often say that about my beers. And here is proof.
With a gentle pour it produced a huge, quintessentially saison-style, “rocky” head.
It has a lovely smell and is dry, crisp and refreshing. And I thoroughly enjoy drinking it. It is not overly funky or wild in either aroma or flavor but, nonetheless, there is a lot going on aromatically and in the mouth. And just knowing that it's a wild strain is half the fun anyway.
[In fact, I'm so happy with this one, I'm sharing the recipe. See below.]
That's the quick assessment. Now let's get constructively critical.
It is dry – if I'm being honest, perhaps a touch too dry. This could be the result of the cane sugar added for, ah, dryness. At six percent of the total grain bill, I might reduce that a bit next time.
It's a nice color, though next time perhaps a bit closer to golden and further from orange might be more like it. That could be the Caramunich malt, which here again, accounts for just over six percent of the grist.
And it is bitter, a touch too bitter perhaps. In the finish, it kind of recalls a Belgian Golden, like Duvel, more than a saison. (The broader category of Farmhouse Ale may be the more appropriate style designation for this beer, in the end). The bitterness is more puzzling. I did add 60 and 30 minute hop additions of Cascade and Horizon, respectively. But both only clock in at, or under, 10% alpha acid, so I'm surprised the beer is so bitter.
But that's part of the pleasure of brewing: to learn and explore. To see what we would do differently or what ingredients or processes we would change the next time around.
I know one thing I'd definitely keep, however, and that is Chris Wood's yeast strain. Slow and steady wins the race is the apt phrase here. It didn't exactly rocket out of the gate but it sure as hell did a fine job overall.
Fermentation was rythmic and unrelenting. The yeast was rock-solid in primary. And, it imparted distinctive phenolic aromatics, most of the flavor, and it was still hanging tough enough in order to carbonate the sucker up to the level where it produces a MASSIVE head. Or, in brewing-speak, about 3.2 volumes of CO2.
Not bad at all for a microorganism that began life on blueberry at sunny Clemson University (Go Tigers!) and ended up in my glass on a frigid, snow-covered night in New Jersey.
Thanks for an excellent collaboration Chris.
Five Gallon Partial Mash
OG 1.068 FG 1.003
8 oz. Caramunich
6 lbs. Light Dry Extract
12 oz. Wheat Dry Extract
8 oz. Cane Sugar
1 oz. Cascade (60 min.)
1 oz. Horizon (30 min.)
1 oz. Willamette (5 min.)
1 oz. NJ Local Hop, Unknown Variety (5 min.)
1 oz. Cascade (1 min.)
South Labs B3 Yeast
Step by step
Steep grains at ~155ºF for 40 minutes. Bring wort to boil. Switch off heat and add extract. Return to boil and boil for 90 minutes. Add hops according to above schedule. Add cane sugar at 5 minutes. Cool to below 80ºF and pitch yeast. Ferment warm. Rack to secondary after at least two weeks. I waited three. Bottle after at least two more weeks but could be longer. For bottling my five gallons, I used 6.3 oz of corn sugar for priming.Last modified on