I decided to do a kit this time. I had a few things in the works in BeerSmith, including a recipe for Heffeweizen I found in the BS “cloud”. I had also been thinking of doing a Maibock in time for May Day (just because). But this Belgian Saison called to me from the shelf, along with the idea of an easier, simpler brewday.
Turned out, with the Steep-to-Convert method advised in the instructions, it ends up being very similar to a mash (in fact, with steeping at 152F for 45 minutes I’m not really sure how it is not just labeled MASHING) Really, it’s the same thing as the brew in a bag method that I did on my first 3 brews. In any case, the steeping grains just get you a small amount of wort, then you raise that 1 gallon of wort to 2.5 gallons by adding water, bring to a boil and mixing in Dry Malt Extract. At the end you just add water to bring the whole thing to 5 gallons. Bringing to a boil 2.5 gallons of wort (and moving, pouring it) takes less time and effort than the full volume. When you have to cool from boiling to around 70F, that takes a lot less time too. I actually cooled it to about 90, then mixed in the ~50% cold tap water and ended up with ~62F-64F wort. All of that makes life easier than an AG 5 gallon brew (but it just feels like cheating to me!)
This particular kit also came with Candi Syrup, which is a first for me, and was supposed to have a “spice pack”, which was not present. This is what I hate about kits. I don’t want to add a “spice pack” – I want to add spices, and know exactly what I’m adding and in what amounts. I guess it’s to keep you coming back and buying more kits. In any case, I think the Saison yeast that came with it will contribute style-appropriate flavors, and I’m not too worried about the missing spice-pack. People online mentioned coriander and orange peel, but I didn’t want to take any chances without researching it enough. I also don’t want my beer to taste like Shock Top, because I hate that stuff.
- 1 lb Vienna
- 12 oz Flaked Wheat
- 4 oz Caramel 30L
- 1 oz German Tettnang (at start of boil)
- .5 oz German Hallertau (at 30 min)
- .5 oz German Hallertau (at flameout)
- Nope. Did I mention the spice pack was missing?
Brew Day (4/2/16)
- Heated 1 gallon water to 155F and steeped specialty grains. Since my thermometer is still terrible, it crept up past 155F. Instructions said not to let it get above 155F (I think because of tannin extraction), but I cooled by dunking the steeping bag, and using a spoon to spoon the liquid over the bag. After it got down (5 mins in), kept temperature within 148-152F per instructions. During the last 4 mins of the 45 min steep, I had the flame on as I was once again getting the temp up, and I got distracted with filling a bucket of water to mix up more Star-San, and the temp crept into the 160s – D’oh! I immediately pulled out the steeping bag, and added the wort to the bigger brew pot. ~41 mins is long enough for the steep. Consulting Palmer’s book, he seems to say that tannin extraction is more likely after 170F, so I hope that didn’t happen.
Added 1.5 gallons of water and brought to a boil. 3 lbs DME mixed in.
- 1 oz Tettnang at start of boil
- .5 oz Hallertau at 30 mins
- 1 lb DME, Candi Syrup, 1/2 tsp Irish moss (not from kit), wort chiller added at 15 mins. This is where the instructions say to add the spice pack.
- .5 oz Hallertau at flameout
- Chilled wort to about ~90F in about 10-15 mins.
- Added to bucket (through strainer) then brought to 5 gallons with water from sink. Instructions say to check your gravity as you do this, to make sure it stays within their specified OG of 1.048-1.052, but I didn’t do that. I had the hydrometer in there as I filled the bucket, but it was so frothy and almost impossible to read. I decided, it is what it is. How off can it be?
- Collected my sample for OG, then poured into 6.5 gallon carboy through funnell. This has become my method: pour from brew pot to bucket through strainer, to keep the gunk out, then funnell that into carboy. This process ends up aerating too. I prefer the carboy because I don’t get a good seal on my bucket, and never see bubbling. Plus you can’t take a peek. I keep a dark T-shirt over my carboy and can look whenever I need to.
- OG: 1.047
- Pitched yeast with wort around 62F. Kit instructions say DO NOT REHYDRATE – in caps like that, so I went with it. I can’t imagine how not rehydrating is that important (To avoid possible contamination? To not affect gravity?). On the back of the yeast pack, the manufacturer says to rehydrate, by the way. Not rehydrating was easier (and this was supposed to be an easier brew).
- Somewhere around 12-15 hours later, it was bubbling away!
Racked to secondary on 4/9. I wasn’t planning to, since I haven’t done that on my last few brews, but the directions said to, and I thought to myself, I invested $50 in this kit and I want it to be a great product, including nice and clear beer. Plus timing for bottling in one week from now didn’t work out. So it’ll be in secondary for 2 weeks. Took a sip (it was 9 am) and… wow! I love that peppery saison taste it has. So good. I think I’m going to love this one. I collected about an 8oz glass, plus a full hydrometer test jar, and I am planning to drink that flat tasty beer this evening! OG: 1.005
It was in secondary for 2 weeks and 5 days, and was bubbling about once per minute even on the last day. Bottled with 4 oz corn sugar dissolved in 2 cups boiling water. Yielded 41.5 bottles. It tastes great. The peppery character of the Saison yeast is really unique. This is the clearest beer I’ve made yet. FG: 1.003 (5.8% ABV)
Tastings (Mid May 2016)
This tastes great! It is not among my favorite beer styles, but it’s very nice for what it is, and it has a nice finish. The peppery taste is unique.