Brew Day: Funky Dark Saison

I was one of the lucky ones to get my hands on Bootleg Biology’s yeast “The Mad Fermentationist” blend. I immediately began to think about what kind of base beer would work with this unique blend.  The blend itself is a combo of Saccharomyces, Brettanomyces, and Lactobacillus with characteristics of a Saison (peppers, clove, and citrus). Apparently if you ferment at around 80F you get stone fruit and cherry notes as well, so that’s what we are aiming for with beer.

We came with an idea to make a Funky Dark Saison tentatively named “Cookie Cutter Hooded Executioner.” We think that the combination of dark malts with the natural stone fruit/cherry phenols from the yeast would work really well with together. We had originally planned to just use Horizon hops for a more classic Saison character, but I was able to get some African Queen hops from my LHBS without having to support AB-InBEV. So that was definitely a win for us.

Grain Bill________________________________________________________
30%        Maris Otter
30%        Dark Munich
30%        Vienna
8%          Wheat
1.5%      Special B
.4%         Acid Malt
1 lb         Flaked  Oats
.5 Lb       D180 Candi Syrup

Hops_____________________________________________________________
1 oz        African Queen (45 minute addition)
1 oz        African Queen (Dry Hop—haven’t decided if we want to do this quite yet)

Yeast_____________________________________________________________
1 pkg       Bootleg Biology “The Mad Fementationist Blend”

Extra_____________________________________________________________
1 tsp        Yeast Nutrient

Brewing Information_______________________________________________
Mash:     75 minutes @ 153F
Sparge:  10 minutes @ 168F
Boil:        75 Minutes

Expected OG: 1.058 – 1.061
Expected FG: 1.010 – 1.006
Expected ABV: 6.2% – 7.2%
Actual OG: 1.060
We started this brew day relatively late because we had to bottle Smeagol’s Precious: Blueberries. There was a small bit of a sulfuric aroma coming from the fermenter even after primary had finished. I was hoping that extra time on the blueberries would get the smell out, which thankfully, it did. That beer has an amazing color and tastes like a perfect “lawnmower beer,” I’m happy with the pre-carbonated version.

We started mash in at 163F, with a 10 degree drop after we transfer the water to the tun. We transferred our strike water to the mash tun at 153.4F and left it to mash in for 75 minutes. Once the 75 minutes was up we started our sparge. For this brew, we finally got a chance to use our gravity table we recently put together, so we experimented a bit with the sprage. Instead of batch sparging as we normally do we did a fly sparge and had a constant stream of strike water flowing on top of the grain bed. We kept the grain bed submerged until we were out of water and ended up with 7 gallons of wort. As an aside, we were both pretty psyched to use the gravity table. It seemed like it made the process much more efficient and moving around was a lot easier. This was definitely a much-needed upgrade.

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Our gravity tables maiden voyage

Overall the wort boiled for 75 minutes and in those 75 minutes we; added 1 oz African Queen hops at 40 minutes, added a half pound of D180 Belgian Candy Syrup at 30 minutes, and a yeast energizer at 15 minutes. When it was finally done boiling we were in awe with the color. The wort was a deep ruby red, it looked phenomenal. From the kettle it smelled like caramel, cherries, and tobacco—it hit every note we wanted it to.

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Mashing out into the brew kettle–beautiful color

We cooled the wort down from 216F to 78F in 10 minutes. We collected 4.8 gallons of wort during the transfer from the kettle to the carboy. We hit the upper end up of our expected OG at 1.060. We pitched the yeast at 78F and hit it with a bit of oxygen (30 seconds) and put it away until bottling day. I intend to sample it after 2 weeks to see where it’s at, but I think I’m going to let this one sit for about a month before we bottle it. The blend of yeast used has a lot of unique characters, and I’d like them all to be on display for this one.

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OG 1.060, picture taken before wort was cooled down completely

We haven’t decided if we want to dry hop this with some more of the African Queen hops. I only have 3 ounces of it left and I would like to use them in a SMaSH Pale Ale, mostly late hop additions. I’ll wait until after primary finishes and an initial tasting to see if we want to go that route.

This was our first brew day in a little over a month and a half, we had both been chomping at the bit to get back in the swing of things. Everything went amazingly smooth, I don’t think we could have asked for a better brew day to get things rolling again. Up next on our agenda:

  • Fermentation Chamber
  • Keezer/Kegerator
  • Black West Coast IPA: “Temporary Lapse of Reason”
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