Thursday, October 20, 2011

No-Hop Dandelion Saison w/ Brett B Brewday

This beer is my entry for this year’s DRAFT Iron Brewer Competition. And, as you can probably guess, this year requires brewing a beer without hops. I know, I know. Consider this revenge for Reinheitsgebot. My recipe for this one pretty much follows 98 (hell, I’m even using the same yeast cake), with the exception that I cut the hops and pitched a package of brettanomyces bruxellensis, the hope being that if there are no remaining sugars in the beer—simple or complex—it will be harder for any type of infection to flourish. Gotta like that solid logic, huh? Sure, I could have gone with wormwood or lavender tips to offer some preservative qualities, but I'm a risk-taker. Plus, the other dandelion saison tasted delicious when I switched it over to the secondary—the light mineral & herbal bitterness is a good match with the lighter body of the saison. And given that 3711 ran the last one down to 1.000, adding the brett should pretty much close out anything worth consuming rather rapidly.

101. No-Hop Dandelion Saison w/ Brett B
8 lbs. MFB Pilsner
1 lb. Weyerman Light Wheat
1 lb. Weyerman Light Munich
1 lb. Weyerman Acidulated Malt

Mashed @ 152° F w/ 4 gallons of RO water for 90 minutes; collected 2 ½ gallons @ 1.062
Batch sparged @ 167° F w/ 3 ¾ gallons RO water for 20 minutes; collected 3 ¾ gallons @ 1.024

Collected 6 ¼ gallons; brought to a boil (70 minute) and added:

w/60 to go: 3 oz. dandelion leaves, coarsely chopped
1 oz. dandelion root, coarsely chopped

w/15 to go: 1 tsp. Irish moss
2 oz. dandelion leaves, coarsely chopped
.7 oz. dandelion root, coarsely chopped

w/5 to go: 2 oz. dandelion leaves, coarsely chopped
.7 oz. dandelion root, coarsely chopped
1 0z. crystallized ginger, coarsely chopped
6 g. hibiscus flowers
1 g. grains of paradise, lightly crushed

Chilled, racked to carboy, and pitched on Wyeast 3711 French Saison cake from 98 (swirled up and dumped half of cake out); added Wyeast 5112 Brettanomyces bruxellensis

Brewed: 10/20/2011
Secondary: 10/27/2011 @ 1.008 & 64° F
Bottled: 12/16/2011 w/4 oz. table sugar

OG: 1.046
FG: 1.002

Tasting Notes: (4/12/2012) I purposefully waited to type up these notes because I was interested to see if the beer would spoil. I figured the dueling experiments of no hops combined with the lack of sugar via the Brettanomyces bruxellensis would create something of a beer storage detente. And that is precisely what has happened. No Hop Dandelion Saison pours a faintly hazy and dirty gold with a thin white head that never quite fully disappears. The nose starts with a slight tartness—a mixture of faint cherry and acidity—before giving way to soft bread dough and faint graininess. All the while, there are hints of earthiness and herbal mustiness infused with malt candy sweetness dancing around the edges. The mouthfeel is dry, tart, thin, and sharp; the Brett B and acidulated malt influences are equally apparent, as is the utter lack of body to the beer—it is, to put it bluntly, bereft of substance as it is brimming with flavor, although there still might be a touch of residual gumminess. Flavors open with graininess and candy before giving way to an earthy, musty dryness in the middle—it is slightly reminiscent of the flavor and bite in champagne, although there is more dirt and earth here. In fact, I’d be inclined to describe the flavor in the middle as hop bitterness if I didn’t know this beer was lacking them, but I’m guessing that is the dandelion doing its work here. There is just a touch of residual sweetness in the finish—light and bright—before the musty funk and herbal bitterness returns to dry out the palate. As a whole, this beer is delicate and complex; it is simultaneously soft and bright on the palate, and the slight funk provided by the Brett B blends well with the soft malt and dandelion. I’m not sure I like it, but I would certainly drink it. And if nothing, this has certainly been a successful experiment—I’ll pop another one in another six months and see where it is at.

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