With our summer brew season coming to an end we wanted to get one last lighter beer in before it’s dark beer time. After much deliberation, we finally decided on a Saison. I’m not entirely sure why we chose that style since we didn’t have any of the grains that we would need, but we didn’t let that stop us. After acquiring all the Belgian Pils that we needed we made some changes in the hops while still keeping the alpha acid low and in line with the style. This brew would be our first all grain brew since November and the first on our new keggle system.
Brew Day – Saison
The morning started off with a healthy dose of nervousness, anxiety, and optimism all in one. That was slowly washed away with a tasty number from Stillwater “Stateside Saison” to calm the nerves and set the pace for the day. We always drink the style we are brewing, we feel there is some brew Karma there. After finally getting all the parts cleaned and tightened up it was time to use out keggle and brew a 10-gallon batch. Since the day would be long we decided to mill our grains and get started. While milling we started bringing the mash water temp up to ~1480 so that we could mash a little sooner. After all the grain was stirred into the mash water we temped it at 147.30, then put the lid on the mash tun and set a 75-minute timer.
We were a little concerned that our false bottom wouldn’t seat properly causing problems during sparging. Luckily, this didn’t end up being an issue at all. Sparging would actually take less time than expected based on the amount of grains in the mash tun. About 40 minutes later we had all our sweet wort collected and ready for the boil. Getting the ~13 gallons of wort up to the hot break and a rolling boil proved to be the longest step of the day. We knew that a new burner was a purchase we needed to make, but we have since decided to expedite that process and have already started looking at replacement options. Of course if anyone reading this has any recommendations I would love to hear them. Keep in mind that we are small time brewers with families and small budgets, so keep the suggestions under $100 please. The hop schedule for the boil is was another simple two addition schedule of Hallertau at boil and Saaz at flameout, so nothing to interesting going on there. Shortly after the boil started we did realize that we forgot to add some sugar. By some sugar I mean 2 pounds worth! Talk about changing the outcome of our beer. Luckily I had just enough in the house and we were able to add all that we needed to bump the ABV accordingly. The sugar not only contributes to the ABV, but will also give our beer the dry finish that is characteristic of a saison.
After the boil was finished we took a reading with the refractometer and we were at 12.3 brix. We then used Northern Brewer’s brix calculator to figure out the original gravity of 1.050. We were shooting for 1.059, so it seems that we didn’t lose much in the area of efficiency, which was a bit of a shock considering this was the first brew on a new system that is twice the size of the old one. We are hoping for a final gravity of 1.007 of less, putting the beer around 6% ABV.
We decided to use the big mouth bubblers again for fermentation since they are so easy to transfer to secondary/kegs/bottles and really earn their keep in ease of cleaning. We ended up with just over 10-gallons of wort so there was no need to top off after the two carboys were filled to the 5-gallon mark. We did end up getting two different yeasts to compare the finished product and determine which one we would use when we brew this recipe again. We chose WLP568 and WLP565. Both are great saison yeasts, but they have different fermentation characteristics such as temperatures and attenuation. Another interesting thing about fermenting this saison is that temps will need to be 700-800+ for complete fermentation. Usually we are worried about getting temps over about 680 and with this one we are going to be well over that mark. All in all it was a great brew day that left me very excited for not only this beer, but future brews on this system as well. I think that we will be able to handle as big of a beer as we would like with the much improved efficiency we have now. It looks like year round garage brewing in Illinois will be a thing this year!