Jul 19, 2008

Rustic Farmhouse Ale

I am unsure if you are supposed to pronounce it (Says-on) (Say-sun)or (Sas-son), so I am avoiding the term "Saison" in favor of a description of what it is: a French / Belgian beer made with available ingredients with a strength so to fortify but not get the farm hands who drank it completely sloshed so they could continue doing their work. Okay, I do know how to pronounce Saison, but saying I did not lent itself well to that lovely first sentence, huh?
Many recipes warn drinkers to the surprising strength of Saison. Mine should clock in at around 1.070. Since this beer seems to have a history of including what you have on hand without overcalculating, I am rounding the weights. For example 1.6 becomes 1.5 and 1.93 becomes 2. This will also be my first time using Rye (which should add spiciness) and Piloncillo (a partially refined sugar from my favorite supermercado).

Another thing that got me all excited was the fact that this style loves hot weather. Some people ferment this one at temperatures upward of 90 degrees. Hot Damn. I wish I knew this years ago.

Rustic Farmhouse Ale:
Target Gravity: 1.070
Original Gravity: 1.066

Malt Bill:

9.33 lbs (60%) Pilsner Malt
1.5 lbs (10%) Munich I
2 lbs (10%) Rye
1.5 lbs (10%) Wheat

1 lb Piloncillo (in boil)

2 oz Saaz (3.8%AA) -- 90 minutes
1 oz Mount Hood (3.7%AA) -- 60 minutes
1 oz East Kent Goldings (5.6%AA) -- 30 minutes
.5 oz Saaz (3.8%AA) -- 15 minutes

35 IBU

Big Belgian Saison Yeast Starter -- about two quarts, maybe unnecessary . . . (the starter part that is).
Recipe Cost = $39 (which includes ice and water)
4.65 gallons of strike water
3.14 gallons sparge water needed
Brewday Notes:
My last beer, Noc-a-homa II suffered from temperature losses almost all the way through the mash. I suppose this was because I thought that since it was the summer time, I did not need to prime the tun with boiling water or cover it with blankets. This time I primed it, and got down my zero-degree sleeping bag to wrap it up. I will be surprised if I loose much heat at all.
16 minutes into mash: temperature was around 152-153, so I am pleased. I also know the thermometer needs a little time to get it all the way up sometimes, so I am good. I am not going to check again for a while.
64 minutes into the mash: temperature was right around 150. It surprises me that I am losing any heat at all, but I am not going to worry. I need to stop worrying so much about temperatures (not that they are not important); a fluxuation of a few degrees should not get me all riled up. This is a rustic beer anyhow.

Since the O.G. (1.060) came out a little bit lower like last time, I am going to have to recalculate my efficiency. It is not at the 75% I have been using anymore.


9.33 lbs Pilsner Malt x 36 = 335.88
1.5 lbs Munich I x 35 = 52.5
2 lbs Rye x 29 = 58
1.5 lbs Wheat x 38 = 57
1 lb Piloncillo x 46 = 46

335.88 + 52.5 + 58 + 57 + 46 = 553.8 (total potential gravity)
6 gallons x 66 (1.066) = 396

396 / 553.8 =
72% Efficiency (not bad)

-- Just like I heard Saison yeast was supposed to do, this beer bubbled away for about two days, which included a small but messy explosion, and then pooped out. I took it and a thermometer upstairs, and proceeded to wait a couple days for it to actually warm up. Once the rain and nice cool weather abated, it is bubbling again in the mid - to - high 80s upstairs.
8.23.08 -- We have had rainy / cloudy weather (which is such a rare blessing for us), and I think that has caused fermentation to come to a halt. It was in the mid 70s this morning, and I know that is not enough to keep this going. It did spend quite a few days in the 80s. I am going to wait until the weather heats up, and see if that causes it to wake up. If it does not, I will assume it should be racked in to the secondary. My wet hops arrived in the mail today.
8.25.08 -- I figured racking the beer into the secondary carboy would be best done upstairs so not to lug the beer up and down. I was largely correct except for a small spill (approximately one half-gallon) that got through the floor and rained down through the ceiling downstairs. It was minor, but it did not appear to be to my wife who had a minor conniption about the whole thing. She still loves me, and the gravity measured 1.013, so much fermentation has already happened.
8.29.08 -- After no additional activity, I kegged it, and it still had a gravity of 1.013. I turned the gas up more on this one to give it the carbonation character it needs. ABV should be 6.9%.
9.3.08 -- After getting gassed for five days, this beer is ready, and my first impressions are very positive. The beer is a bright gold color, and has nice spicy complexities. More later. . .
10.9.08 -- There is absolutely no reason I won't brew this up every summer. This beer is so pretty and complex. The Rye gives it a bit of a sour apple essence, and the Belgian yeast provides a spicey edge. Perhaps I will continue exploring the possibilities of Saison and other Belgian styles.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just made a farmhouse ale today, and it smells wonderful as it goes into the fermenter. I put sweet and bitter orange, corriander, cardimom, and black pepper in for an extra bit of taste.