Pineapple Sour Update

A few months ago I brewed a kettle sour which I posted about here. On brew day I split the batch, 4 gallons to be dry hopped with Mosaic and Vic Secret and the other 2.5 gallons to be racked onto 2.5 pounds of pineapple. I fermented both batches with Brett Brux Trois Vrai.

This strain didn’t drop the gravity as quickly as some other Brett strains I’ve used in the past. So I was interested to see how well it would attenuate on the pineapple batch after an additional 10 weeks. When it came time to sample I was glad to see the gravity finally dropped to a level I was happy with, 1.005. I also happened to have a keg line open up a couple of days prior which was a Brett beer. I had originally planned to bottle this small batch but given I wouldn’t have to change the beer line I decided to keg instead.

I was very pleased with how this turned out. The pineapple really punched through the hops I had used on brew day and the Brett funk was more than subtle but not over powering. The Brett seemed to amplify the over ripe pineapple character and compliment the beer overall. The lower gravity seemed to make the perceived sourness a little more pronounced. The hops surprisingly still came through and added a little complexity. Although they were more restrained due to the time from brew day to kegging, they did add something. I rarely brew a recipe twice as I’m always looking to change and improve any aspect of a beer I can. But I think I would brew this again, pineapple and Brett seemed to be an especially good combination. I’d love to get the base a little more sour next time but otherwise this iteration from my kettle sour was very good.

 

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Appearance: Pours with a light layer of white head which fades to a ring pretty quickly. Golden yellow in color.

Aroma: Sour up front with a moderate amount of ripe pineapple followed by restrained Brett funk.

Taste: Light to moderately sour, over ripe pineapple punches through followed by some light Brett funk. Pineapple, mango and some citrus.

Mouthfeel: Light-moderate carbonation, light acidic mouth feel, finished dry.

Overall: This turned out really well, I was surprised to enjoy it more than the dry hopped version. I’d certainly try something similar again sometime. It kicked fairly quickly and it went over well with fellow beer geeks. It was certainly nice to have a sour on tap for a change. Although I did like what this Brett strain brought to the beer long term, it’s not one I would use as a primary strain again. Or at least not for a hop forward beer that I want to keg within two weeks. As I mentioned earlier it did drop the gravity to where I was hoping but it simply took too long to get there.

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Brewing a Hoppy Hefeweizen with expired yeast

A Hefeweizen has to be one of the best styles to enjoy on a hot day. A good balance of clove and banana from the German yeast, silky mouth feel, yet still light and thirst quenching. Last summer I had a Hoppy Hefeweizen near the top of my list to brew.

I ordered a pack of Wyeast Weihenstephan Weizen 3068 ahead of time as special orders can take some time at my LHBS. I had my recipe written, yeast in hand and was comfortable with my hop choices. I was hoping for varieties that would compliment the German strain, not over power it. I decided on Cascade because of its citrus character, and I find it to be not overly punchy. I also wanted to use Mandarina Bavaria because it has peach and fruit character, and that sounded like it would all mesh well together. Again, I’ve used this hop before and found it to be mild to moderate in intensity.

The grain bill was fairly straight forward, the majority being Pilsner and wheat malt as well as some oats (not a traditional addition). The wheat  and oats tend to give the beer moderate to full mouth feel and allows the yeast to push into that silky character. It also helps to contribute to the hazy look the style is so well known for. Finally some acid malt for ph adjustment.

With all of that planned, life happened as it always seems to, and this recipe got pushed back for so long that it was well into the fall before I thought about it again. By then I wasn’t in the mood for the style anymore and I ended up moving onto other styles.

Fast forward to a little while ago. I noticed that pack of 3068 still in my beer fridge. I knew it would take a while to order a new pack and I had always been curious about reviving an old yeast pack. This one was 15 months past the manufactured date. So I decided to start with a small starter (250ml) and build the culture from there. Next I stepped it up to 500ml, 1L, and 2L over a two week period. Each step up resulted in noticeable activity so I knew I had grown something.

 

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Now to be honest, I didn’t do a ton of research into what would happen using an old yeast pack if I was able to get it going. Most of what I read said that the original yeast should be nearly impossible to propagate at this point. So I was happy just to see activity as I built up the culture.

Looking back I definitely should have asked myself and read more into the possible pitfalls of this approach I was taking. I assumed the yeast would be impacted but I had no idea just how much until I tasted the final product. Not only did this beer not taste like a Hefe in the slightest, it didn’t taste good at all. It had a host of off flavours. Ranging from wet cardboard, grassy notes and an odd mouth feel. I let it sit in keg for about two weeks, sampling every few days to see if any of them were starting to subside. I tried, but failed, on every attempt to drink more than a couple of ounces.

Given the fact that the beer was treated properly in every way aside from the yeast, I had to conclude this was the culprit of all the off flavors. I decided to cut my losses and pour this down the drain. It was disheartening to say the least, I’m sure anyone that’s dumped a batch can attest to how that feels.

 

Recipe Targets: 4 Gallons, OG 1.048, FG 1.011, ABV 4.9%, IBU 24, SRM 3.5

Grain:

0.15 kg               Rice Hulls (0.0 SRM)           1        4.4 %         
1.90 kg               Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM)          55.2 %        
1.00 kg               White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM)             29.1 %        
0.20 kg               Oats, Flaked (Briess) (1.4 SRM)         5.8 %         
0.19 kg               Acid Malt (3.0 SRM)                     5.5 %

 

Hops:

14.00 g               Cascade [5.50 %] - Boil 10 min               4.6 IBUs      
14.00 g               Mandarina Bavaria [8.50 %] - Boil 10         7.1 IBUs      
28.00 g               Cascade [5.50 %] - Boil 5 min                5.1 IBUs      
28.00 g               Mandarina Bavaria [8.50 %] - Boil 5 min      7.8 IBUs      
28.00 g               Cascade [5.50 %] - Boil 0 min                0.0 IBUs      
28.00 g               Mandarina Bavaria [8.50 %] - Boil 0 min      0.0 IBUs      

Extras:

1.00 tsp              Yeast Nutrient (Boil 10 mins)

 

Yeast:

Weihenstephan Weizen (Wyeast Labs #3068)

 

No tasting notes, just what I mentioned earlier. I definitely want to try brewing this style next summer, with a fresh pack of yeast. Until then, this was yet another lesson learned. I do wonder if I had built the culture up a number of times over the winter if it would have behaved the same way. But the cost of DME alone would have out weighed that approach compared to simply ordering a fresh pack.

After this experience I can say without hesitation, use fresh yeast; always. When in doubt, buy a fresh pack, the relatively small cost is easily out weighed by the potential waste of grain and especially hops. Not to mention the hit your pride will take.

Brewing Two Iterations of a Grisette

Grisette is a style I see popping up more and more lately. If you’re not familiar with it think light, or session Saison. Though there are some minor differences in the grain bill, the comparison is sound. While most Saisons have a fairly simple, and clean grain bill, a Grisette tends to have more adjuncts like wheat, oats, spelt, etc. Or at least that’s my approach. I won’t pretend to be a purist when it comes to traditional styles.

The first commercial example I had of the style was a great one, Grizacca by Oxbow in Maine. What I enjoyed most about the beer was how well the hops worked with their yeast strain. This is what I believe is the most difficult aspect of brewing hop forward styles with a Belgian strain. See my last blog post here where I made some choices that didn’t work so well.

grizacca
Grizacca – Image courtesy http://www.bonappetit.com/drinks/beer/slideshow/belgian-sour-beers#3

Grisettes are especially enjoyable in the summer, having character of a Saison on a smaller scale. For me they tend to be pale in color, light to medium mouth feel, finishing dry with some subtle spice from a Saison yeast strain. Add some carefully chosen hop varieties to that, and you have a perfect beer for a hot summer day, or any day really.

While planning my recipe I remembered that I have also been wanting to brew a long term Brett Saison of late. I felt that a Grisette comes close enough that I could possibly take care of both beer on the same brew day. I’ve never brewed a mixed fermentation beer, certainly not with a Brett and Sacc strain combined. I’m not sure if I should have pitched either strain ahead of the other to give it a head start. Or simply pitch both at the same time. For simplicity’s sake, I decided to just pitch both as primary strains.  I planned to leave this in carboy for a minimum of six months and see how it’s coming along. Most likely I would bottle half at that point and transfer the other half to a small carboy with a fruit addition. Either way both iterations should be ready by next spring.

The most recent commercial example of the style that I’ve enjoyed would be Saison Brett by Les Trois Mousquetaires out of Quebec, Canada. I loved how crisp and dry it was, backed by just enough Brett funk, yet still had some Saison character coming through as well. I really should have picked up a few extra bottles to age.

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Those styles that need a good amount of time in primary are always hard to fit into my brew schedule. There never seems to be enough time to get everything I have planned into a carboy. Family time takes priority and now with two kids in the picture, brew time is harder and harder to come by. So when I do get the chance to get a brew day in, I tend to go for something hoppy to keep my taps flowing.  A solution to this would be to simply brew larger batches. My system can accommodate 10 gallons of low to moderate abv wort. But, like I said, I have too many ideas and I tend to get tired of drinking the same beer after a while. Especially when those delicious hoppy beer start fading off after a few weeks.

But, why not get two different batches from the same mash, split prior to the boil and voila! A hoppy beer to drink in two weeks and another incorporating both a Saison and Brett strain that I could ferment long term. This does take a little more work and time in BeerSmith, or whatever software you use. You need to plan the 10 gallon batch for the mash, then each 5 gallon batch for the boil and fermentation. It’s not really that much more to take on really, just a few extra things to keep in mind and take note of on brew day. With that decided, I went ahead planning both recipes.

Planning the hoppy Grisette half was pretty easy. I had brewed a clone of Oxbow’s Grizacca following a friend’s recipe (found here) about a year and a half ago. At the time it was the best beer I had brewed to date, likely setting my expectations a little too high this time around. It is fairly consistent with how I brew any hop forward style. Low bitterness with most of the hops used at 10 minute, steep and dry hop additions. I decided to keep most of the recipe intact, though I did want to change the hops a little. That beer was brewed using mostly Azacca (another favorite on mine), and Falconer’s Flight, though the original recipe was a little different. I did have Simcoe, so I could have brewed that exact clone, but I felt using another favorite variety of mine with Azacca would make for an interesting combination.

The descriptors for Azacca are as follows. Aromas of tropical fruit, fruit and citrus. Flavors of pineapple, mango, citrus, lemon and pine. I keep meaning to brew a single hop beer with it, I think it would certainly work well in a SMaSH recipe. I wanted to keep the majority of the hop bill to be Azacca because it worked well the first time around. I also wanted to keep the yeast strain consistent with last time because it’s my favorite Saison strain and it’s always reliable. My favorite hop to pair with the Wyeast 3711 French Saison strain has to be Nelson Sauvin. It’s an elusive hop to describe though goose berry, and sauvignon blanc is commonly cited. I did want to use some Nelson in this recipe, but I only wanted it to add a little complexity and compliment the beer overall, instead of being the stand out flavor.

I kept the grist close to a recipe I brewed before. Bohemian Pilsner for the base backed up with a small amount of malted wheat and flaked wheat along with some acid malt for water chemistry adjustment. I would have liked to use spelt this time around but my LHBS didn’t have any in stock. I also used a small amount of rice hulls as I routinely do anytime I add wheat to a recipe. I’ve only ever had one stuck sparge and I plan to never repeat that awful brew day.

This did turn out fairly well, though I remember enjoying the original version with Falconer’s Flight a little more. This was a big surprise to me considering how much I enjoy both of these hops. Perhaps next time I will just stick with Simcoe, I’m sure it would work really well with Azacca, it obviously did for Oxbow.

As for the Brett Grisette half, I had a hop addition at 75 (beginning of the boil) and of course the grist had to be the same. Only time will tell how that turns out, I’ll update when I finally get to taste it.

 

Hoppy Grisette

Recipe Targets: 5 gallons, OG 1.042, FG 1.006, ABV 4.8%, IBU 34, SRM 3.0

Grain:

0.06 kg      Rice Hulls         1.8 %         
1.80 kg      Pilsner Bohemian  52.4 %        
0.75 kg      Wheat, Flaked     21.8 %        
0.75 kg      White Wheat Malt  21.8 %        
0.07 kg      Acid Malt          2.2 %

Hops:

40.00 g     Azacca [8.24 %] - Boil 10 min           17.0 IBUs
40.00 g     Azacca [8.24 %] - Steep 10 min          8.5 IBUs      
30.00 g     Nelson Sauvin [11.40 %] - Steep 10 min  8.8 IBUs
40.00 g     Azacca CHILLER [8.24 %]                 0.0 IBUs 
30.00 g     Nelson Sauvin CHILLER [11.40 %]         0.0 IBUs
50.00 g     Azacca Day 4 [8.24 %] Dry Hop       
25.00 g     Nelson Sauvin Day 4 [11.40 %] Dry Hop      
50.00 g     Azacca Day 8 [8.24 %] Dry Hop       
25.00 g     Nelson Sauvin Day 8 [11.40 %] Dry Hop

Yeast:

1.0 pkg     French Saison (Wyeast Labs #3711)

Extras:

1.00 Items  Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
1.00 tsp    Yeast Nutrient (Boil 10.0 mins)

 

Brewed on June 5th with my son, mashed in with 19L of strike water to hit mash temp of 148F for 50 minutes. Mashed out with 11L of 208F water for 10 minutes. Batch sparged with 6.6 gallons of 168F water. Two points  low on pre-boil gravity at 1.030. Wort split between two kettles.

Hoppy Grisette – 75 minute boil, OG 11 points high at 1.052. Chilled to 60F, transferred to primary which was shaken prior to and after pitching yeast starter. Fermentation temperature peaked at 72F. Vigorous within 36 hours, and seemed to be winding down within 72 hours.

  • June 8th – 1st dry hop addition
  • June 13th – 2nd dry hop addition
  • June 17th – Kegged (FG 1.005), pressure set to 35 for 48 hours then reduced to serving

Brett Grisette – 75 minute boil, OG high at 1.045, chilled to 60F and both the Saison and Brett starters were added.

I realized when I measured the OG’s that I neglected to take into account the greater boil-off volume loss splitting this batch. As opposed to simply doing a single kettle boil and splitting afterwards. Lesson learned.

 

hoppy-grisette

Appearance: Pours with a medium white, fluffy head which fades to a ring after several minutes. Golden yellow/light orange in color.

Aroma: Moderate hop aroma. Mango, slight pineapple and citrus.

Flavour: Carries over from the aroma. Mango, pineapple, lemon, light to moderate intensity. Something near the end that detracts from the beer. Perhaps very light astringency. Light bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Light mouth feel, medium-light carbonation, finishes dry.

Overall: This turned out pretty well, though not nearly as well as I had hoped. I felt it wasn’t quite as punchy as I expected given the hops I used. The possible slight astringency it barely noticeable, not at all by some that tasted it. Still, something I’ll be looking for in my next batch. The beer you have the highest hopes for always seem to be the ones that fall short of expectations. Still good, but as I mentioned earlier, I remember enjoying my first shot at this clone just a little more.

 

Brett Grisette

Recipe Targets: 5 Gallons, OG 1.042, FG 1.002, ABV 5.6%, IBU 21, SRM 3.0

Grain:

0.06 kg     Rice Hulls                        1.8 %         
1.80 kg     Pilsner Bohemian                 52.4 %        
0.75 kg     Wheat, Flaked                    21.8 %        
0.75 kg     White Wheat Malt                 21.8 %        
0.07 kg     Acid Malt                         2.2 %         

Hops:

28.00 g     East Kent Goldings [5.26 %] Boil 75mins     21.9 IBUs

Yeast:

1.0 pkg     French Saison (Wyeast Labs #3711)            
1.0 pkg     Brettanomyces Amalgamation (The Yeast Bay)         


Extras:

1.00 Items  Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10 mins)             
1.00 tsp    Yeast Nutrient (Boil 10 mins)