Beer and Pavement

New Slang Saison, pt. 1

Posted in Beer by Zac on May 13, 2011

I had a post started almost a week ago that I just haven’t had time to finish. Then, I decided to brew last night, leaving me with no time to write a proper post. So, what you get instead is part 1 of my brewing process. It’s only extract, so nothing super professional-looking will happen. Also, it’s a style that’s nothing like I’ve done before. I’ve gotten pretty good at the extract brew, but a Saison with herbs and whatnot is something new.

The recipe is here and what happened is below…

First, I assembled the ingredients: 0.5 lbs. Briess Caramel 20L (specialty grain), 7 lbs. light dry malt extract, 1 oz. Amarillo hop pellets, 1 oz. Sorachi Ace hop pellets, zest of one lemon, a sprig of rosemary, Wyeast Biere De Garde 3725 yeast

I steeped the specialty grain for about 20 minutes. It was actually when the water reached 170 degrees Farenheit. This usually adds some character – particularly in terms of color – to the beer.

Once the specialty grains were removed, I brought the water to a boil, threw in the extract, removed it from the heat (so as not to boil over), stirred until the extract was dissolved, and returned it to boil. Once the boil started up again, I added the Amarillo. While waiting, I put some cold water in the carboy and made sure the rest of my equipment was properly sanitized.

With 15 minutes to go, I added the Sorachi Ace hops. These hops are pretty new. They were developed by Sapporo and produce a lemony sent and flavor. I’ve had a beer by Brooklyn Brewery once that used the hop exclusively. It was a good beer and thought that this might add something unique to my Saison. Between that hop addition and the end of the boil, I prepped some honey by putting the bottle in warm water so as to liquify the stuff before dumping it into the wort. At the end of the boil, I tossed in the lemon zest and Rosemary, baby.

Now, comes the worst part of my process: cooling the wort. Since it was storming out, I didn’t have my typical option of chilling it outside, in this giant laundry tub, with cold water running constantly from my hose outside the pot. Instead, I had to resort to the old way of sticking it in an ice bath in the sink. Luckily, this doesn’t take that long if you consider that the ice bath is only part of the cooling process. After the ice bath, I add the wort to cold water in the carboy. That usually puts it over the top if the aeration doesn’t.

Now, the real wait begins. My hope is that the beer ferments in a week. That way I can rack it to the secondary for four or so weeks. Part of that time, we’ll be out of town. The beer will be ready to bottle shortly after I return from my travels. I’ll let you know how the rest goes in future posts.

So far, preliminary smells suggest the lemon will be pretty prominent. In fact, before I pitched the yeast, the wort smelled like an Arnold Palmer. The drink. Arnold Palmer the golfer smelled of cigarettes, sweaty polyester, and women’s perfume. The wort smelled like the drink made out of lemonade and iced tea. Herbally, lemony goodness. However, I know a little Rosemary goes a long way. So, that may come out as things settle. It will be fun to see.

Update: There’s a little action going on. I’ve never used this yeast, but I seem to remember that everyone I’ve known who’s used Belgian strains have had slow starts. I should see more bubbling by tomorrow.

Update 2: Despite what I thought and some have suggested, fermentation has been active throughout the day. I’m thinking we’re in the clear, but I’ll wait for a final gravity in the 1.012 to 1.015 range before I make any bold predictions.

Update 3: So far, so good. The beer fermented all weekend long. It’s supposed to be done in a week. Since getting a proper hydrometer (long story), I will be able to take an accurate final gravity reading. If it comes up short, I might have to hunt down some champaign yeast to finish it off. I’ll post a part 3 to this story either Friday or Monday the 23rd.

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15 Responses

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  1. Steve said, on May 13, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Fascinating stuff, and it already sounds delicious.

    I’m pretty sure I’ve had one or two beers that have smelled (and tasted) like cigarettes, sweaty polyester, and women’s perfume. Lemonade and iced tea sound better though.

    I’ve never been brave enough to brew my own beer, but I’ll have to give it a go one day. Would you recommend starting with a basic kit where everything is supplied, or being a little more adventurous? If you’re ever short of post ideas, a beginners guide to brewing would be very welcome!

    • builderofcoalitions said, on May 13, 2011 at 9:52 am

      Whatever you do, don’t get a kit that includes equipment and ingredients. Find out what you need for a five-gallon batch (too lazy to convert) and get that. Then, buy a kit for a beer style that you like. I can go into more detail later, but I’ve got to go.

  2. Jamie said, on May 13, 2011 at 9:45 am

    No starter? Looking at your recipe, the addition of honey puts your original gravity in the 1.070-75 range (depending on volume). You probably under-pitched the amount of yeast needed by more than half and I wouldn’t be surprised if you get in the 1.030-35 range and see a stalled fermentation. Saison yeast strains are known for their sluggish quality and under-pitching from the beginning won’t help in terms of getting a dry Saison (<1.010), which is typical for the style. From what I’ve read about the 3725 strain, is that it is the Fantome Strain and if that’s the case, then you will need to slowly ramp the temp up as the beer ferments (starting around 68-70 and then up near 80 towards the end of primary, possibly higher). You might want to get some additional yeast as back-up as well.

    • builderofcoalitions said, on May 13, 2011 at 9:58 am

      I never do a starter (maybe once). The smack packs from Wyeast always come through. I actually started it at a higher temp than expected and it’s fermenting fine right now. I thought about the extra yeast, though and will probably pick up some dry yeast at Cool Stuff just in case. Man, relax, have a homebrew. ;)

      • Jamie said, on May 13, 2011 at 10:11 am

        Biggest mistake (outside of sanitation) most homebrewers make is under-pitching, which is why most homebrews come out under attenuated and too sweet. A starter takes 10 minutes to make and will save you frustration down the road. Pick up the latest copy of Zymurgy and read Sean Terrill’s article on Yeast Pitching Rates, where he does a controlled experiment.

  3. Pizza Cottontail said, on May 13, 2011 at 9:48 am

    I tried to make my own root beer once but it came out more like root bread–very, very yeasty. I guess I didn’t sterilize everything enough, or maybe that’s how home-brewed root beer is supposed to taste?

    Hope it turns out.

    • builderofcoalitions said, on May 13, 2011 at 9:59 am

      It will turn out. I’ve done a bunch and have had great success throughout. My motto has been not to worry. I find fussing over all the little details just makes me worry and the beer always comes out just fine.

  4. jeffmenter said, on May 13, 2011 at 11:44 am

    The photos are great! Except the honey bear one freaks me out.

    I can’t wait to try this. I get to try it, right?

  5. Alex said, on May 14, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Looks like a great recipe! Nice carboy cozy as well. Our by-the-book NB saison was bottled last week. We didn’t add any herbs or citrus, but I’m thinking that we will next time.

    When a recipe calls for liquid extract, do you substitute the exact amount of dry, or is it a different ratio? I’m toying with using just DME in our next beer.

    • builderofcoalitions said, on May 14, 2011 at 6:05 pm

      Alex, I’m glad you asked that. I have found the NB kits to be a hair homebrewy for my tastes. Someone suggested I use DME instead of liquid. After searching around for a ratio, I decided to just put the same amount of DME as liquid. The results have been great. There’s a larger malt presence and just a heftier mouthfeel IMHO.

      Look around the link to my recipe to see some of my other brews.

      • Alex said, on May 15, 2011 at 9:32 am

        Thanks! I guess it all evens out when you add water to the primary. Some of your recipes look damn tasty; I may have to steal elements of them for future batches.

  6. [...] a comment « New Slang Saison, pt. 1 LikeBe the first to like this [...]

  7. [...] suggested by Jamie in the comments, I didn’t provide enough yeast for the beer. Luckily, friends Jeff and Brian had some slurry [...]

  8. [...] Slang Saison was the Saison I developed last year that included lemon zest, Rosemary, and the lemony Sorachi Ace hop. This year’s version [...]


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