Archive for August, 2013

Brewed: Petite Saison

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

2013 hop harvest

Petite saisons are gaining more traction in the home brewing community as well as the craft beer community. The thought behind this “small” versions has several motivations that could be taken separately or grouped:

  • A sessionable beer that happens to be a Saison – straight forward reasoning, just a Belgian beer that can be drank all day, especially after mowing the lawn
  • Low alcohol beer with flavor – more of a “beat your chest” reason for brewing, some take small beer brewing as a challenge to make a high quality beer surrounded by low alcohol
  • Historical factors – there are those that want to recreate something close to what was made back on the farm house. It had to be a very low (< 3.0%) alcohol beer as to allow the workers to refresh themselves while working all day without side affects. The beer would also be brewed with items around the farm, therefore non-traditional fermentables would also be game: types of straight sugar, corn, etc. Spices would also be added to the beer. These spices could be used to make the beer more interesting or possibly hide off flavors (contamination). The last piece, at least that I am aware, would be adding at least Brett to the beer. Sanitation on the farm had to be lacking at best.

My goal, at least the first time around, was three fold: make a nice low alcohol Saison, with flavor, while using hops from the yard. The low alcohol was the easy part, just use less grain overall. Since the grain was low I stayed away from any “straight” sugars to allow for as much flavor as possible. In order to get more flavor and a twist, I went with Maris Otter for the majority of the base malt. Not historical but different, hopefully adding some interest. I used all my wet hops for the season: 15 ounces of mostly Cascade, sprinkled with Mt. Hood (1 ounce).

On brew day I harvested the hops, weighed them, and split them into three groups of 5 ounces. Since I had so many hops I pushed the mash temperature up to leave more sweetness in the beer, allowing to combat the bitterness from all the hops even though they are late additions.

This was my first after work on a Friday brew day. I thought it would be painful but it actually turned out great. I had brewed, racked, cleaned and completely finished brewing by 11:00pm. The weekend had barely begun and I already had yeast working. I am going to have to look at Friday brewing more as it seems to leave the rest of the weekend in front of you. Enjoy!

General Information:
Brew Date: Friday, August 23, 2013
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: ECY08 Saison Brasserie
Yeast Starter: 2 liter
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.037
IBU: 24.3
Color: 3.4 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Mash Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 4.0%
Fermentation: 21 days @68*F, 7 days @60*F

Grain Bill:
5.00# Maris Otter
2.00# Pilsner
1.00# Cara-Pils

Saccharification @155.4*F

Hop Bill:
0.35 ounces Warrior @60 minutes
5.00 ounces wet hops (mostly Cacscade but a nugget or two of Mt. Hood) @20 minutes
5.00 ounces wet hops (mostly Cacscade but a nugget or two of Mt. Hood) @10 minutes
5.00 ounces wet hops (mostly Cacscade but a nugget or two of Mt. Hood) @1 minute

1.0 tsp Irish Moss @ 15 minutes
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes


  • 2013-09-29: Bottled with 4.0 ounces priming sugar, 2.0 cups of water. 24, 22.0oz bottles. Final gravity: 1.002

Useless Fact: If you attempted to count the stars in a galaxy at a rate of one every second it would take around 3,000 years to count them all.

Mistreated Hops

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

mistreated hops

I really take pride in my home brewing. I take time to talk with brewing friends, read forums, read books, and attend a couple different local clubs. I always try to seek out the best processes for my brewing style. Chuck says that I am anal about home brewing. I take pride in that. Many people I know now expect a new beer every time they see me. They want to take extra bottles home to share with friends that are now hooked. Once again, instilling a great amount of pride in my home brewing.

A few months ago I brewed a hopped up wheat beer: Hoppy Wheat. When I tasted it, there was something wrong. I couldn’t place it but was learning towards the hops. I thought I might have had a bad group of hops. I decided to scratch the beer, brew it again and brew an IIPA while I was at. Hoppy Wheat Part 2 and Alpha Acid Aspirations – Eagle where brewed.

I was eager to try both, so why not make the Thursday night group taste the week-in-the-bottle brews too. Of course they were slightly under carbonated. I wasn’t worried about that, I wanted the “Oh, this smells fantastic” praise that accompanies over-hopped tropical style beers. There were none. I was the first to bash myself. The hops: Citra, Amarillo and Simcoe, preliminarily, between the two beers wasn’t there.

What was wrong with the hops?

I first blamed it on the 2011 hops. They were old. They had lost it. Shitty hops. Paid a lot of money for those.

Then the rashness of my decisions started to wear off and I did what I do best: started to analyze the situation. I also discussed with the group of guys (Rich, Chuck, and Pat) that I painfully brought through the process with me.

High aroma/flavor hops lacking those elements while seemingly vegetal with that being light. I know I had read somewhere that hops can get oxygenated. How would that have happened? Each hop had come packaged in a one pound bag that I never broke down and/or vacuumed sealed. I had opened and closed some of those bags 6 times, if not more, over the past two years. Allowing tons of oxygen into the bags to mingle with hop goodness that once graced the said bag.

Moron. In spite of all my analness, I have never dated or taken great care of the hops I purchased. How could I have not have had this on my radar? Frustrating that I am the demise of my hop inventory.

I still want to purchase in bulk, cheaper, but now I need a new piece of equipment: food saver of some type. Easy to purchase but I need permission from the boss to spend more money on this hobby (new brew kettle and freezer). I have to find her at a soft moment moment, striking quickly. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: It’s estimated that at any one time around 0.7% of the world’s population is drunk.

Freezer for Temperature Control

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

For a couple of years now I have been throwing around the mental note of needing a freezer to allow me to control the low end of fermentation control. At the moment I have a heat pad (for growing plants) that I can control from 68*F and up. Therefore I don’t have the ability to push a temperature down and hold it below 68. The basement is in the low 60s, most of the year, but I have a hard time hitting sub 70*F with an immersion chiller using water from the hose.

This is where a freezer could be a huge help. On brew day, I could push the temperature of the wort to the low 60s quite quickly with the freezer prior to pitching yeast. Once down to temperature, I can use a controller to keep the temperature within a range (based on my early readings +/-3 degrees while keeping the compressor in good shape.

I began my search after reading a post on The post mentioned that one of the big box stores had 5.5 cubic foot freezer on sale for $160 including free shipping. The sale was over but my quest had only began. After checking out a few more brick and mortar store websites, I decided to see if craigslist had any cheaper options.

Bingo! A 8.8 cubic foot freezer listed at $115 in a nearby town. A phone call later, I found out I was the only one inquiring as the price had been dropped three times. Motivated sellers are easy dealers. Three years old, only a few minor issues and in running shape. I had my freezer.

Next, I have to tell my wife about a temperature controller and run the electrical to the opposite side of the basement. The electrical is easy, I have all the stuff I need (except time). Depending on if I build my own, I need to get $50 – $90 for the controller. Let the begging begin. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: The venom of the Australian Brown Snake is so powerful only 1/14,000th of an ounce is enough to kill a human.

Brewed: Brett Trois IPA

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

2013 hop harvest

My recent hopped up home brews have been nothing short of brutal. I still have a few hops up my sleeve that have a bit of age on them but have never been mistreated, as they have never been opened. Hops from the south Pacific: Riwaka and Galaxy. Four ounces of each from beginning of brew day though dry hopping.

The idea to use Brett Trois was definitely not my own. I have been following a thread on for almost a year and noticed a Brett Trois IPA that Michael brew up at the The Mad Fermentationist. You will quickly notice that the recipe I chose to put together is similar to Michael’s. My edge: south Pacific hops dripping with tropical/citrus flavors and aromas to compliment the yeast.

The plan is to leave this beer in primary for 21 days, dry hopping for 7 thereafter. I will take gravity readings leading up to dry hopping to assure the gravity is terminal. Enjoy!

2013-09-07: dry hopped with 2.00 ounces Riwaka and 1.50 ounces of Galaxy.
2013-09-14: @1.010, fermentation seems about finished, bottled with 3.4 ounces of table sugar, 24, 22 ounce bottles.
2013-09-21: Already tasting as the Brett Trois is chewing through the priming sugar.

General Information:
Brew Date: Sunday, August 11, 2013
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: WLP644
Yeast Starter: 2 step: 0.3 liter followed by 2 liter
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.061
IBU: 75.5
Color: 5.1 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 90
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 5.8%
Fermentation: 21 days @68*F, 1 week dry hop @68*F

Grain Bill:
10.0# American 2-row
2.00# Red Wheat
0.50# Acid Malt
0.50# Caramel Malt 20L
0.50# Flaked Wheat

Saccharification @155.4*F

Hop Bill:
0.75 ounces Galaxy @first wort
0.50 ounces Riwaka @first wort
1.00 ounces Galaxy @30 minutes
1.00 ounces Riwaka @30 minutes
0.75 ounces Galaxy @1 minute
0.50 ounces Riwaka @1 minute
2.00 ounces Riwaka @dry hop
1.50 ounces Galaxy @dry hop

1.0 tsp Irish Moss @ 15 minutes
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes

Useless Fact: The cruise liner, Queen Elizabeth II, moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel that it burns.

Brewed: Mais Epice

Friday, August 2nd, 2013
White labs 566 yeast starter warming for pitching.

White labs 566 yeast starter warming for pitching.

On our family trip this year I scored a bottle of Saison De Pipaix a great saison from Brasserie à Vapeur. I had been mesmerized by this beer from the first time I read an article in BYO on the brewery using steam power and only brewing occasionally. It seemed interesting. The recipe was in the magazine article but I always wanted to try the beer before I brewed. Five gallons of a spiced beer that I may not like wasn’t tickling my fancy.

Now that I had had the beer, it was time to brew it up; at least my version. There isn’t much difference from the BYO article. The main difference is a change in the grain bill, affecting gravity, and not doing a step mash. I also omitted the ginger, not a fan, but I don’t think that is going to be a huge difference with all the spices that are added to the beer.

Not a hard brew day but definitely a longer one with the 30 minutes added to both mash and boil times. The temperature also added to my chill time as it took close to 40 minutes to get down to 70*F. I always capture my water that I use for chilling and place it on the various trees around the yard. The River Birch loves those five gallon drinks. Enjoy!

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, August 03, 2013
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: WLP566
Yeast Starter: 1.5 liter
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.053
IBU: 30.9
Color: 4.2 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 90
Mash Time (Minutes): 90
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 5.5%
Fermentation: 28 days @68*F, with a ramp up to 80*F

Grain Bill:
8.00# Pilsner
1.00# Munich
1.00# Red Wheat
0.50# Flaked Corn

Saccharification @149.1*F

Hop Bill:
2.00 ounces Saaz First Wort Hop
1.00 ounces Fuggles @60 minutes

1.0 tsp Irish Moss @ 15 minutes
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes
??? black pepper @ 15 minutes (crushed fresh pepper to cover bottom of small bowl)
0.25 ounces whole anise
0.25 ounces bitter orange peel
0.25 ounces sweet orange peel


  • 2013-09-08: bottled with 3.8 ounces of priming sugar, 2 cups of water. Yielded 24, 22 ounce. Gravity at 1.007

Useless Fact: The name Jeep came from the abbreviation used in the army for the “General Purpose” vehicle, G.P.