Thursday, November 1, 2012

Saison de Scully

Well I finally decided to post what I did for my last beer. This is going to be my most ambitious beer to date. I brewed a 6 gallon Saison batch. I plan on taking half of the batch and bottling it and the other half will be racked into my 3 gallon carboy on top of Hungarian oak cubes, which have been soaking in a Pinot Gris for 5 weeks, and topped off with the dregs from a Russian River Temptation (thank you jwjon1 for providing me with that).  The oak aged sour batch, which I dubbed Sassy Saison du Scully, should develop a nice funky sourness if all goes according to plan. The Russian River beer will be adding their special blend Brettanomyces, Pediococcus, and Lactobacillus.  This beer will need to condition and develop for a few months. Periodically I will take samples of it to judge whether or not it is ready for bottling.

Back to the current beer. This was my first attempt at an all grain batch on my own. Honestly it was not that hard, so if you’re afraid to take the step to all grain don’t worry about it. The hardest thing was lifting and pouring the strike and sparge water and moving my mash tun off of the ground (also standing outside in the Texas heat next to a turkey fryer was not that fun). I had a little trouble cooling the wort because I didn’t have enough ice to cool the water using my pre-chiller.

I pitched my yeast at too hot a temperature then I would have liked, it was around 80 degrees F.  Luckily, the yeast I used (Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saison) prefers hotter temperature for fermentation, but it should still be pitched at a lower temperature (around 60F) and then ramped up gradually.

If you haven’t used 3724, or the WL version whatever their number is, then you probably are not aware of the issues people have with this yeast. This yeast likes to be ferment at around 90 degrees F two days after pitching in order to prevent it from stalling at around 1.030. I did not have the ability to raise the temperature. I’ve read that people have kept it at an ambient temperature of 72-74 degrees F and had no problems. It also will stall often for beers with a starting gravity of 1.060 or greater. In order to prevent a stall, ramping the temperature will help finish it off or if you don’t have that capability, like me, then you have to go with option two. Option two takes more time, uses a lower temperature and a really big starter. I checked my beer about three weeks ago and sure enough it stalled at 1.031. It has slowly continued to ferment and is steadily producing bubbles from my blow off tube. Last time I checked about a week ago it had dropped a bit. My problem was that I couldn’t raise the temperature and I didn’t make a large  enough starter. I recently stirred the yeast cake in hopes of reactivating the dormant yeast. I will check the gravity again this weekend, if that didn’t do anything I will probably buy a packet of US-05 and finish it off.

Here are the details for my Saison. So far it smells amazing, it just needs to drop to 1.010 or under. Fingers crossed…


Grain Bill
Batch size 6 gallons (Brew date 6/19)
OG: 1.053 (anticipated 1.061, efficiency 59%)
FG: 1.011 (anticipated 1.012)
ABV: 5.5% (anticipated 6.4%)
IBU: 16
SRM: 6 degrees
Total grain bill 13.375 lbs.
  • 11lbs 4oz German Two-Row
  • 1lb 9oz English Marris Otter
  • 1lb 6oz Light Belgian Candi Sugar (see how to make Belgian Candi Sugar)
  • 13 oz Rye malt
  • 0.6oz Caramunich I
Hop Schedule
  • 1oz East Kent Golding @ 60mins (AA 5.7% Whole hop)
  • Wyeast Belgian Saison 3724

Using my home made mash calculator I calculated
Strike temperature of 160F for a single infusion mash of 149F for 60 minutes. I calculated roughly 5.75 gallons of strike water.

Sparge at 169F by using strike water at 196F. I also calculated 6 gallons of sparge water.
My total boil volume was 9 gallons for 90 minutes bring my final total to 6.75 gallons in order to compensate for losses to hops, trub, etc. so I can finish with a 6 gallon batch.

I made a half liter starter the day before (I should have made a larger starter).
Cooled and pitched yeast at 80 degrees (should have been cooler but I ran out of ice).

(6/21/11)Vigorous fermentation the first day after pitching, calmed down after 2 days.
Moved up stairs to warmer area in hopes of preventing stall.
Left for vacation and turned off A/C hopefully it will get up to 90 degrees and not stall.

(7/3/11) Gravity down to 1.031, damn it stalled, I’ll give it more time since it is still regularly bubbling.

(7/10/11) Gravity down to 1.028, lower but not at the pace I would like.

(7/20/11) Stirred up yeast cake in hopes of restarting fermentation.

(7/27/11) Gravity down to 1.020, still not as low as I would like it, obviously rousing the yeast helped a lot and I should have been doing that from the beginning. Next time I brew a saison I’ll know to do that. I pitched the starter I made three days before using the washed yeast from my porter, California ale yeast, and give it a shaking. Hopefully this will finish it up and I can bottle this weekend.

(8/6/11) Hazaah! Finally down to 1.011 time to bottle. Bottled half with .35 cups of table sugar (2.1 oz) boiled and cooled table sugar. The other half was racked into my 3 gallon carboy with the Pinot Gris soaked Hungarian oak cubes and the dregs from the Russian River Temptation. Now only about 8 more months and the sour version should be ready.

(9/1/11) Tasting notes

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