Thursday, November 4, 2010

Saison Brewday

I got the Breiss Cherrywood Smoked malt a while ago; since then, I have been engaged in rigorous debate in regards to the type of beer that would best showcase its attributes. The choice to run with a saison was not only because I like saisons, but with the hope that the highly attenuated beer created by the 3711 yeast would allow the subtle qualities of the cherry-smoked malt to shine through. Here’s to keeping hope alive...
Even the Ducks love Tom...
79. Saison
1 lb. Dingeman’s Pale
1 lb. Breiss Cherrywood Smoked malt
8 oz. Weyerman Smoked malt
8 oz. Breiss Caramel 20L
8 oz. Breiss Munich 6-row 10L
7.5 oz. Fawcett Halycon Pale
4 oz. Dingeman’s Cara 45

Mashed w/6 quarts water @ 140° F for 30 min. & 151° F for 50 min.
Batch sparged with 1 gallon of 180° F water for 10 minutes

Added to brew kettle, brought to a boil (70 minute) and added:
4 lbs. Breiss DME Pilsen
4 oz. Turbinado Sugar
1 oz. New Zealand Pacifica leaf 5.3% AA

w/10 min. to go:
½ oz. New Zealand Pacifica leaf 5.3% AA
1 tsp. Irish moss

@ removal from heat:
½ oz. New Zealand Pacifica leaf 5.3% AA

Chilled wort, racked to bucket, and pitched mason jar of Wyeast 3711 French Saison saved from batch 74

Brewed: 11/4/2010
Secondary: 11/20/2010 @ 1.004
Bottled: 1/15/2010 w/ 4.5 oz. table sugar @ 50° F

OG: 1.054
FG: 1.004

Tasting Notes: Cherry-Wood Smoked Saison pours a dirty hazy straw with a rather dense and prolific head. The nose combines the strengths of the two main elements; there is a soft subtle smoke component—more smoky and woody than greasy or bacon-like—that balances nicely with the fruit and floral components of the Wyeast 3711 French Saison yeast. Flavors open with a slight sweetness that quickly merges with the dry smokiness. The middle is dry and slightly tannic and woodsy mixed with floral and fruit esters from the yeast. There is also a juicy roundness that I find in all 3711 beers—it is pretty much the hallmark of the yeast—before a dry and almost papery finish that allows the malt and smoke to slowly fade off of the palate with a touch of spiciness thrown in for good measure. Light, dry, and crackery mouthfeel; coupled with the smoked malt sensations, this beer sucks the moisture out of your mouth. The bright, almost sharp carbonation further enhances the dryness; given the high attenuation of the beer, there is a slight acidity from the carbonation that melds seamlessly with the smokiness. There is a small amount of alcohol warmth in the finish as well, although it mixes in well with the smoke flavors. I’ve become increasingly smitten with this beer—when I first had it, I thought it was uninteresting across the flavor profile. However, once it fully fermented and dried out, the slight drop in sweetness allowed the smoke character to round and frame the palate sensations in a way that enhanced the 3711 yeast character. In the pantheon of random experiments that marks my brewing inspiration, this beer turned out to be far more interesting than I anticipated. The combination of smoked malt with the 3711 yeast brought interesting components of both to bear on this beer. Even slightly more shocking is that I’ve gotten quite positive response from others as well; I’m not sure if it is the novelty of the beer or that it really that good. It even ended up getting 3rd place in the first leg of the Brewster’s Cup, our year-long club competition, so I guess the praise was not merely faint and convivial. I’ll certainly be experimenting with smoked malt and saisons further to see what I can create.

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