Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tasting: Saison

What a wonderful feeling to open that first bottle of a much anticipated brew, raise it up to your nose, that first whiff encouraging glass to lips and take in all that goodness and hard work, comforting you that you made a beer just the way you drew it up in your mind.

Soft on the palate, a round maltiness (thank you Weyermann Vienna) gives way to a delicate bitterness. Then comes a yeasty pepper flavor along with floral and grassy flavors of several noble hops. A dry bitterness lingers. A spectacular beer for a night when both heat and humidity begin with an 8.

Crap, my glass is empty.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Inspired by a couple great beers, Saison Dupont and Ommegang Hennepin, I heeded the siren call of saison. To me, saison is four basic ingredients of beer combined in perfect harmony. Nothing fancy. Just the finest malts and hops fermented with a difficult yeast. That was the aim of this recipe.

4 lbs. Belgian 2-row pale malt
4 lbs. US 2-row pale malt
1 lb. Vienna Malt

60 Minutes - 0.75 Amarillo % AAU
60 Minutes - 0.5 ounce Saaz 6.8% AAU
15 Minutes -0 .75 ounce Noble mix*
0 Minutes - 0.75 ounce Noble mix*
*.5 ounce each of Saaz (6.8 AAU), Hallertau (3.8 AAU), Styrian Goldings (2.0 AAU).

113 - 20 minutes
145 - 50 minutes
162 - 20 minutes

pitched starter built up from Saison Dupont Vieille Provision
OG: 1.053
78 % Efficiency.

Update: Version 2 brewed 7/16/2009 using the same recipe. 1.051 OG.

7/16/2009: 1.020 SG. First batch racked to secondary.

7/28/2009: Bottled 5 gallons, primed with 3.5 oz table sugar. 1.004 FG, 6.1 ABV, 92 % AA.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tasting: Les Fleurs du Mal

This has proved again to be one of my favorite recipes. The marriage of fruity Belgian yeast and American citrus hops has shown itself to be an excellent combination. I had only planned one batch of this for the summer but it has gone so fast I may have to brew up another to quench my thirst.

The color splits the difference between orange and amber and puts up big off-white head from the high carbonation. Oranges dominate the aroma among other tropical fruits with a grassy, herbal note adding some complexity. In the mouth, it presents a prickly carbonation and bitterness up front with a slight caramel sweetness and burning alcohol, which provides just enough kick to please a Scotch drinker, in the middle. The bitterness returns for a long, dry finish. Well chilled, its an ale that is very refreshing on a hot summer's eve.

The only change I would make would be to substitute pale malt of some, if not all, of the pils to give some extra malt to interact with the hops and yeast.