Friday, April 8, 2011

Brewday - The Harvester Belgian Saison II

My mission to rebuild my homebrew stockpile after it was decimated at the Homebrew Shindig continues with a new batch of the Harvester Belgian Saison. I've pondered long and hard over how to change the recipe for this beer. (for all those of you who know me I'm sure you're shocked that I was agonising over the details of a beer recipe) At length I decided that the main thing I wanted to tweak was the aroma, so I zested a Seville orange and crushed some grains of paradise and threw these into the last few minutes of the boil. I also mashed slightly hotter to add some substance and hopefully take the edge off this beer's extreme dryness. I decided on a change to the grain bill as well, reducing the pilsner malt and upping the wheat malt. Upright Brewing's Four was the inspiration for this change, a simple saison I really enjoyed that uses a large amount of wheat to augment the barley in its recipe. I'll post my review of this fine beer in the near future.

The new Half Pounder, freshly dry-hopped
The brewday was a pretty busy affair as I had a few things happening. While the Harvester was on the go, I was able to transfer and dry-hop The Half Pounder, and I think this may be the best batch yet. It's a bit early to tell but the flavours of grapefruit and mandarin orange leapt out of this beer when I tasted it at transfer; I can't wait to try it again at bottling time. As if this wasn't enough, I decided to make my first yeast starter as well. (major beer geek warning for the remainder of this paragraph) Ya, its true, I've never made a starter before. I've always used the smack-packs for lower gravity beers (lower alcohol) and then harvested the yeast for reuse in higher grav brews. This is a great and hassle free system and I recommend it, but this time I needed a lot of yeast to make an Imperial Stout in the near future, and I was worried about the amount of yeast I had in the fridge, so I figured I'd try a starter. After consulting Ken the guru at Askim's Beer and Wine Emporium on Haultain, (go to this store by the way, Ken is the man, don't let his moustache scare you) I had a plan. I dispensed with malt extract and instead took the first cup and a half of runnings off the mash from the Harvester (the richest in sugar, and thus the most food for the yeast)  to use for the starter. I boiled the runnings down to a cup to sterilise them and poured them into an opaque porcelain bottle fit with an airlock. After the yeast pack had swollen I poured it into the bottle, taking the utmost care to be sanitary as a yeast starter is one of the most susceptible things to infection that a brewer deals with. In a few hours, voila, the airlock was bubbling every few seconds and the starter was on its way, bringing the yeast population up to where I would need it for the stout. All three tasks finished, my brew day was at an end, time for dinner, hockey, and a beer. Man, I wish I didn't have to go back to work next month.

Up Next: The Beard of Zeus Imperial Stout II

Seville orange and grains of paradise

Boiling up the runnings

Tad da! All done and bubbbling away

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