Tuesday, December 10, 2013

“Polar Vortex" Saison [secondary]

Racking date: Dec. 8, 2013

The full batch sat for two weeks in my furnace room alternating between high temps of 73 'F (when I was heating it with my carboy wrap) and lows of 63 'F at night. After initially sitting the first night at 64 'F, I heated the batch to 78 'F before letting it cool back down. That really kicked off fermentation. After that, I tried to get the temps up to the low 70's every evening.

I split the 6 gallon batch between two 3-gallon carboys. The first will simply continue to sit, clarify, and age. The second was racked on top of black caps from my parents property. I will let both sit for about a month before bottling.


OG: 1.009. MUCH better attenuation than expected. WOW.

Appearance: Dark brown color with an almost a watery chocolate milk opaqueness. It sounds worse than it looks, but doesn't have much clarity.

Aroma: Belgian fruitiness, faint chocolate or toffee.

Taste: Tons of complexity. Very slight sour taste at first, flavors of prune or plums. This quickly gives way to sweet toffee. Almost a faint bready aftertaste. Nice. Definitely has that Belgian character I was hoping for.


  • 28 oz frozen wild black caps

  • Very slowly heated frozen black caps in sauce pan with a little water to ~160 'F. Chilled and then added to carboy. Racked 3 gallons of beer on top.

“Hackett" Irish Red [secondary]

Racking date: Dec. 3, 2013

Racked to secondary after about 10 days fermenting at about 64 'F. Stored in our downstairs guest room to maintain a cooler temperature. Will give this another 7+ days to site in my furnace room at ~66'F before bottling. 


OG: 1.019

Appearance: Amazing clarity! Looks almost like a lager in this respect. Bright red color, almost ruby with a very slight orange-ish hue.

Aroma: Light breadiness, some faint caramel.

Taste: Definitely tastes like an Irish red. Finishes clean. Slight oat flavor at end.

“Hackett" Irish Red

Brew date: Nov. 23, 2013
#22 - 6 gal

My second beer of the afternoon. Note to self: Never attempt two brews in one day unless you start REALLY early in the morning, or having nothing going at night. It was definitely biting off more than I could chew. I missed my mash in temps and had to settle for a higher protein rest.

After tasting Karben4's Lady Luck Irish Red, I was inspired. Initially I was looking at doing a similar big red in the hopes of landing somewhere near their recipe, but decided on a smaller grain bill and lighter alcohol alternative at the last minute. Looked to recipes on AHA (Joe Gillian's Red) and NorthernBrewer.com (Irish Red Ale and Irish Draught Ale) for inspiration.

  • 9.75 lb Maris Otter malt
  • 0.75 lb Victory malt
  • 1.25 lb Caramel 60L
  • 0.5 lb Caramel 80L
  • 0.25 lb Special B malt
  • 0.25 lb Oat flakes
  • 0.10 lb Roast barley
  • 0.15 lb Chocolate malt
  • 0.5 oz East Kent Goldings (6.6% A, leaf) (60 min)
  • 0.5 oz Fuggles (5.3% A, pellet) (60 min) 
  • 0.5 oz Styrian Goldings (3.8% A, pellet) (15 min)
  • 0.25 oz Fuggles (5.3% A, pellet) (5 min)
  • 1.5 t Gypsum (mash)
  • 1.5 t Irish moss (15 min)
  • Wyeast 1335 British Ale II
Target OG: 1.058
Target FG: 1.014
Target ABV: 5.6%
Target IBU: 22.6

  • Mash in 6 gal. water @ 140 'F*
  • Protein rest @ 130 'F (20 min)*
  • Sac rest @ 160 -> 152 (60 min)
  • Boil 60 min
  • Chill and ferment @ 65 'F
*Intended to protein rest @ 122 'F but missed my target temp.

  • First runnings: 3.5 gal. @ 1.068
  • Sparge: 4 gal
  • Pre-boil: 7 gal. @ 1.047
  • Collected 5.15 gal. @ 1.054

“Polar Vortex" Saison

Brew date: Nov. 23, 2013
#21 - 6.25 gal

With temps hovering in the low 20's and the wife away, it was time to brew all afternoon. Make that two beers. It may have been biting off more than I could chew, but it was fun, even in my cold garage.

I had decided on a dark saison long ago after seeing the AHA's Saison d'Hiver recipe. My intention is to split the batch into two 3-gallon carboys to secondary for about a month. One will be left to its self, while the other is added to about one pound of wild black cap berries picked from my parents property earlier this summer and frozen.

Brewing went smoothly enough, especially after adding a large piece of steel pegboard to the top of my brew stand to act as a table top. It sits between burners and finally provides a place to rest utensils and other tools during the brew day. I also hooked up a 1/4 horsepower utility pump to my wort chiller and recycled cold water from a tub containing frozen water jugs. It definitely sped up the chilling process, but I need to get some fasteners for my tubing and steelhead pump to recycle the wort while chilling to get a true whirlpool effect.

In the future, I should prepare 2-3 tubs of cold water for the chilling process. The first helps to reduce the temperature of the wort to about 160 'F, while the other one or two can be used to bring it down to pitching temp.

The only thing I think I would change about the recipe and schedule would be to add some Irish moss to the end of the boil to better clarify the wort. Even now two weeks later, it still has a milk chocolate opaqueness. Also, since I was a little short of my target gravity, I decided to spike the end of the boil with another quarter pound of brown sugar.

  • 12 lb Belgian Pale Ale Malt (Dingemans)
  • 1 lb Caramel 120L
  • 1.25 Munich Malt
  • 0.75 lb Vienna Malt
  • 0.5 lb Red Wheat Malt
  • 0.3 lb Debittered Black Malt
  • 0.2 lb Dark Chocolate Malt (Briess)
  • 0.5 oz Brewers Gold (10.5% A, pellet) (60 min)
  • 0.5 oz Willamette (5.7% A, leaf) (60 min)
  • 0.5 oz Saaz (3% A, pellet) (15 min)
  • 1 lb Dark Belgian Candi (5 min)
  • 0.5 lb Dark Brown Sugar (5 min)
  • Wyeast 3711 French Saison yeast starter (11/21)
Target OG: 1.077
Target FG: 1.019
Target ABV: 7.6 %
Target IBU: 26.5

  • Mash in 6 gal. water @ 160 'F
  • Sac rest @ 149 'F (60 min)
  • Mash out @ 168 'F (10 min)
  • Sparge 4 gal. water @ 168 'F
  • Boil 60 min
  • Chill and ferment @ 70-76 'F
  • First runnings: 3.3 gal. @ 1.070
  • Sparge: 4 gal. @ 1.030
  • Pre-boil: 1.046
  • End-boil: 1.070
  • Added 4 oz brown sugar to spike gravity to near 1.077