Sunday, 12 April 2015

Brew Day: Buckwheat Saison III

I've been brewing quite frequently over the past few weeks, but I don't have time to do write-ups for every beer.  Besides, since I'm back to brewing saisons again, most of the brew days were fairly similar.  For the record though, I started another six gallon pale solera with The Yeast Bay's Melange blend, adding to the other soleras already underway.  I'm hoping to make my first serious blends from these in the Autumn.  I also started another spontaneous fermentation project (post to follow),  rebrewed Table Beer III (adding some Motueka hops at flame out to accentuate the citrusy flavours from the rye), and also made a version of this 'classic saison' recipe, hopped with Sterling and Crystal, and fermented with The Yeast Bay's Saison Blend.  There's more to come in the next few weeks as well: my first attempt at using the Dupont yeast strain (in the form of Wyeast 3724), both as a sole fermenter and as an element in some homemade blends, some with brett and some with other saison strains.  More on that in another post.

The beer I brewed today was another version of the buckwheat saison I've been making lately, and will eventually be another biere de coupage.  The first version was blended with a small amount of 'lambic'-style beer and some white wine, and is currently conditioning in the bottle (tasting notes here).  It still has a slightly unpleasant 'soapy' flavour that I'm hoping will dissipate with time, but otherwise it's tasting quite promising: tart, fruity, and with a subtle but definite funk.  The second version was blended 4:1 with the first pull from my pale Roeselare solera, yielding  a total of five gallons that I packaged last week.  It was tasting lovely at bottling: tart and very fruit forward, with lots of pineapple and citrus notes.  I have no way of knowing if this is from the brettanomyces processing the caprylic acid in the buckwheat, or just a combination of the yeast strains in the various beers and the fruity amarillo hops.  Either way, I like where that batch is headed, so I decided to just go ahead and brew another along the same lines.

Today I produced four gallons of base saison, with a recipe of roughly 30% buckwheat to 70% base malt (pilsner and a little bit of six row).  I've written about my process in earlier posts: boiling the buckwheat in a separate pot to make a gloopy porridge, then adding this back to the main mash for conversion.  Today I did a protein rest around 130°F while the buckwheat boiled, then used the porridge to raise the temperature of the main mash up to around 145°F, later adding a final rest in the mid-150°Fs before mashout.  The hops were Amarillo and Sterling, with a fairly heavy late addition---I'm hoping to turn this one round relatively quickly, before these flavours fade.  (I'd like to dry-hop at least one of these blended saisons to really amp up the aroma.  Perhaps I'll do that with this one.)

The wort is currently fermenting with a pitch of Wyeast 3726 taken from the rebrew of Table Beer III.  Once it has fermented out most of the way, I'll combine the four gallons of saison with one gallon of the pale sour from the Roeselare solera, and give them about a month to reach an equilibrium before bottling (based on past experience, the saison is usually already very dry at this point---drier than the sour, in fact---so isn't much left for the bugs to ferment).  After a month or so in the bottle, this should be ready to drink at the start of summer, though I'll probably keep at least half the batch around to see how it ages.

As I've said before, I'm very happy with the beers I've produced using this method of coupage.  It produces tart, fruity, complex beers that I enjoy much more than most of the equivalent beers I can find/afford on the shelves around here.  I only have one gallon left from the first pull from the solera, and I don't know yet whether I'll use it to cut saisons, or keep it around as a possible element in the blends I'll be making this Autumn.  That means this might be the last coupage I make with properly aged sour beer for a while, although I do have three gallons of no-boil sour ready for blending with some more straight-forward summer saisons.  After that, I'll be waiting impatiently for my big blending project in the Autumn.

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