|Making slants of Wyeast 3725|
Despite the name, the online consensus seemed to be that this wasn't really a typical biere de garde yeast (in his book on the style, Phil Markowski focuses more on lager and hybrid ale strains). But the official blurb from Wyeast---"Malty and full on the palate with initial sweetness. Finishes dry and slightly tart"---made me think it would work well for some non-typical saisons I had planned.
The first of these was a rebrew of the Saison de Pipaix recipe from Farmhouse Ales. I made a version of this beer last year with The Yeast Bay's Wallonian Farmhouse strain, and found the result intriguingly different from my usual pilsner-and-adjunct saisons. The combination of Vienna malt with a small amount of Amber gave the beer a distinctively bready, toasty flavour, which to me at least brought up various Autumnal and harvest-related associations. I have no idea how well the recipe matched up to the original beer (twice now the bottles I've bought have been completely flat), but I found the results interesting enough to make a mental note to come back to the recipe next Autumn.
The flavour profile of the yeasts sounds like exactly what's called for here: something to emphasise the malt and suggest at slight sweetness, while also drying the beer right out. And if nothing else, it will give me a healthy pitch for some of the other projects I have planned, which include some higher gravity beers, along with a few more yeast blends.
Due to some technology-related issues I don't currently have access to my old BeerSmith files, so I couldn't check the exact details of the old recipe. I followed the percentages mentioned in Farmhouse Ales for the grist (58% pilsner, 38% vienna, 2% amber), and used some Triskel and Fuggle hops I had lying around for bittering and aroma additions. This was all decided at the last minute, but my hope is that they will complement the maltier character of this beer. A bit of online research suggested I was more likely to get the flavour profile I was looking for by keeping the yeast on the cooler side, so I pitched in the mid 60 °Fs and set it in the fermentation chamber at 70 °F. It will have to come out after about 36 hours to make way for another batch, so at that point I'll let it free-rise to wherever it wants to go. I also added 10g of oak cubes, as part of my ongoing effort to see whether the addition of some amount of oak to the primary fermentation will subtly affect the structure and flavour profile of the beer. At the moment it is fermenting away vigorously in the fridge.
I'll end by mentioning a few things I have planned for the next couple of months: the blending project should yield some pale and red sours, some of which will end up on fruit purchased earlier this summer; I'll use some of the leftover sour beer from the soleras to cut some fresh beer (including some darker, maltier saisons made with this strain that I'll cut with beer from my Flanders Red solera); I want to work on perfecting my base recipe for a bitter spelt saison; and since I recently purchased a small kegging system, I'll also be working on ordinary bitter recipes, and seeing how well I can emulate cask conditioning in a keg.