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Day 135 Micro-Batch Cherry Belle Saison

Micro Batch Citra Saison

Micro Batch Citra Saison

I currently have a Citra Saison batch in a 6 gallon carboy going through primary fermentation. When I brewed that batch last Monday, I wound up with an extra gallon. I decided to process that in a 1 gallon carboy and create a “Micro Batch” of Citra Saison with vodka soaked cherries. Since this batch is made using a Belle Saison yeast that I harvested from my Hi-Nelson Saison w/Hibiscus. I’m calling the micro batch “Cherry Belle Saison”. The full batch was hopped at 30 minutes and 10 minutes with Citra hops. The big carboy isn’t ready to rack yet, but will get dry hopped with Citra when it’s time.

Both carboys on the heating pad and with the Space Blanket open.

Both carboys on the heating pad and with the Space Blanket open.

This micro batch will not be dry hopped…I’m thinking that the dry hop would be too much to let the cherry flavor come through. Also, hop flavor fades over time and I think I may age the micro batch a little longer than the main batch…maybe 4 or 5 months. I’m anticipating getting about 9 bottles out of this batch and I’ll probably taste one after about a month, so I should have 8 bottles to age.

This carboy was looking pretty clear and it doesn’t really need to wait for the big batch. Plus, I’m pretty sure that the natural sugar from the cherries is going to restart the fermentation process, so I didn’t really have to make sure that it was completely done with primary fermentation. Finishing secondary and a brief tertiary stage will be important for this one.

The cherries, 1 pound, were soaked in about 1/2 cup of vodka and kept in the freezer since Monday.

Frozen cherries with vodka

Frozen cherries with vodka

I added those to a two gallon fermentation bucket with the vodka, and racked the small carboy of saison onto them.

racking onto the cherries and vodka in the 2 gallon bucket.

racking onto the cherries and vodka in the 2 gallon bucket.

The I sealed the bucket and added an airlock. I put the bucket back on the heating pad and Space Blanket wrap with the big batch and I’m done for tonight, except for the clean-up.

I got a hydrometer sample from the bottom of the 1 gallon carboy and checked it. It was 1.003 at 84F, so, corrected for temperature variation with the hydrometer, it comes out to 1.006 SG.  I’ve stuck the sample in the fridge to cold crash, so I can check the clarity and flavor later. The clarity looked pretty good before I racked it. After racking, I’m just under a gallon. DSC05204

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Day 134 Status Citra Saisons and Diet Root Beer

Switched back from blow-offs to airlocks

Switched back from blow-offs to airlocks

A quick update on my current projects: 1) Diet Root Beer. I prepared a replacement cap for my test bottle, I opened the tester and heard a slight CO2 escape. I poured a very small amount in a glass. There were very few bubbles. The soda was obviously undercarbed, but had some…hopefully, that will continue to increase! The flavor was strong on the root beer and not overly sweet, but it does have a little “diet” aftertaste. It’s okay, though, for the trade-off on sugar. I’m just hoping it carbs enough! Next time, maybe a little sweeter. I may have to find a way for a little more sweetness and a little less aftertaste without upping the sugar too much.

2) I switched back to regular airlocks for the Citra Saisons this afternoon. The action seemed to have relaxed sufficiently. Still on the heating pad on “low”  and wrapped in the Space Blanket. The main batch is bubbling about every 8-10 seconds and the little bonus gallon, that I’m going to rack onto vodka soaked cherries, is at about 18-20 second intervals. Looking good! A lot of trub…I’ll probably get 4-1/2 to 5 gallons out of the big carboy and 2/3 gallon on the small one, but they should be good!

3) Moving the Hi-Nelson Saison w/Hibiscus to storage. They were bottled on July 27th. Should be a couple of weeks before I open one and a month before I expect them to really be ready.

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Day 133 Brew Day! Citra Saison with Harvested Yeast Starter

Setting up for brewing

Setting up for brewing

This was an uncharacteristic brew day for me. I usually don’t brew on weekdays. Certainly not Mondays. But the starter I had hoped to pitch in a Citra Saison pushed me back a day. I have never harvested yeast and never made a starter before now and I was afraid that the starter was going to be too weak. I worked out a boost for the starter (see previous post) and moved the brew back a day.

After I got everything all set up and ready to go, I got my BIAB (Brew In A Bag) in place and heated my strike water, 6 gallons.  The goal was 150F…water went to 154F and I mashed in. The water only dropped 1/2 degree though. I turned off the heat and made a run for ice. When I returned, the temp was 150.2F. Over the next 45 minutes, I tried my best to maintain the target temperature of 150F; however, it was probably more consistently in the 153F range.

After the BIAB (Boil In A Bag) steep and "sparge"

After the BIAB (Boil In A Bag) steep and “sparge”

Here is where I will talk about my changes to the original recipe that I found online. First of all, I decided to do Pale Malt 2 row, instead of Pilsner. Two reasons: sale on Pale and 60 minute boil instead of 90 minute. (Some recommend Pilsner boil for 90 to reduce chance of off flavors.) Next, I added 1 teaspoon of Irish Moss at 15 minutes left in the boil to aid clarity. I also realized that I had forgotten to buy 1 pound of Belgian Clear Candi Syrup…made a run to the closest brew shop, only to find that they are closed on Mondays. Aaaargh! So, I substituted a pound of raw North Carolina honey, instead (at 10 minutes left in the boil). I am also planning on adding a dry hop step to secondary. The recipe calls for Citra hops to be added 1/2 oz at 30 minutes and 1/2 oz at 10 minutes left in the boil. I am a big Citra fan, so I am going to add an ounce in secondary.

Okay, back to the procedures: After the 1 hour mash in, I did my usual “tea bag” style dunking and draining of the bag, using a large pizza screen over the pot for support. I then set up a bottling bucket with 2 gallons of sparge water at about 150F and used the spigot with some hose on it to do an improvised sparge. I’ve used this method that, as far as I know, I made up, a few times and I think it helps a little. This left me with a rather full kettle, so the boil was a challenge and had to be monitored pretty carefully.

The pizza screen was helpful in the tea bag style sparging and in helping keep bugs and debris out.

The pizza screen was helpful in the tea bag style sparging and in helping keep bugs and debris out.

I set timers for my additions and all of that went well. Did my usual ice bath chill and managed to get the temperature of the wort down to about 90F, pretty quickly…good temperature for Belle Saison yeast.

Now, I wanted to use my glass carboy for primary fermentation, so I could have a visual on activity. The problem is getting 7 gallons of wort from a stock pot into a heavy glass 6 gallon carboy using a funnel. I struggled and spilled a bit, trying to figure out a grip and pouring into a small target that filled quickly. I could see that wasn’t going to cut it, so I poured about 3/4 of the wort into the bottling bucket I had used for the sparging, and then went through the spigot and hose into the carboy. Obviously, I was going to have too much wort, so, rather than toss it, I grabbed and sanitized a one gallon carboy and put the rest of the wort into it.

I used my oxygen tank to oxygenate the big carboy for two minutes and the little one for one minute. Between the refractometer reading of 1.048 and the hydrometer reading, corrected for temperature to 1.044, I’m  going to estimate 1.046 OG.* Rather than try to decant my yeast starter, I decided to swirl the flask to mix it well and pitch the whole thing…guesstimating some for the smaller batch. The starter wort used pale DME (Dry Malt Extract), so it shouldn’t hurt the flavor of the beer. The recipe doesn’t give a projected FG, but Belle Saison is pretty aggressive, so I’m betting on around 1.002 for the big batch. So, maybe a 5.78% ABV? I would be happy with that.

Here's the volume of wort I wound up with.

Here’s the volume of wort I wound up with and my flask of starter yeast.

I have no clue what to expect for the one gallon batch, because I’m going to add one pound of fresh cherries to secondary fermentation, rather than dry hopping it, and the sugar in the cherries will surely kick fermentation back into gear. I currently have the whole cherries in the freezer with some vodka. When it comes time to rack the small batch, I’ll crush the cherries into the vodka a little to release some juice and add it all. I’ll probably use a 2 gallon bucket that I use for ciders to do the small batch secondary, so I have a wide opening with which to work.

The recipe calls for a week each for both primary and secondary; however, my Hi-Nelson Saison needed a little over two weeks for primary and then a week for secondary. And the small batch may go longer in secondary. I’ll probably even rack the small batch to a tertiary stage to clarify once it’s off the fruit. Probably back into a glass carboy again so I can judge the clarity.

The big question mark is whether my yeast starter was going to work. The yeast was pitched at 3:15 p.m. and the carboys were set on a heating pad, on the lowest setting. At 6:30, there was no activity evident and the glass felt pretty cool.

Carboys on the heating pad.

Carboys on the heating pad. (Beside some Hi-Nelson Saison with Hibiscus and some Diet Root Beer (Truvia)

I upped the heating pad to medium and wrapped the carboys in a “Space Blanket”. By 9:30 p.m., they were both chugging along in the airlocks…not violently, but good, frequent bubbles every second or two. Success!!! Woo hoo!!!

Heating pad AND Space Blanket...now we're chugging!

Heating pad AND Space Blanket…now we’re chugging!

I cold crashed the hydrometer sample just to see what it looks like and how it tastes at this stage. Obviously malty and sweet at this point, but it seems like it will be nice and clean, light bitterness and the hops should shine through on the main batch and the Belle Saison should add a little spice and funk. The little cherry batch should be really interesting!

Hydrometer sample, cold crashed and easier to get a read. And a taste for evaluation.

Hydrometer sample, cold crashed and easier to get a read. And a taste for evaluation.

*I also let this sample come to room temperature and took another hydrometer reading. at 74.2F and 1.046, adjusted to 1.047, so that will be my new OG to go with. I read the hydrometer with no contacts or glasses and it was much easier to get a good read, so I feel confident with that figure. (An additional refractometer reading, of course, calls it 1.048, so…whatever!) Could be around 6% ABV…anywhere in that  5.75 to 6.05% range is close enough.

For the original version of the recipe, go to this link or cut and paste into your browser:

http://www.danielshomebrew.blogspot.com/2014/01/citra-saison.html

Always give credit where due!

Update: Okay…the following morning, the airlocks were fouled. I quickly set up blow offs and the yeast is going at it, big time! Definitely had enough yeast!

 

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Day 132 Bottling Hi-Nelson Saison, Diet Root Beer, Boosting Starter

Bottled Hi-Nelson Saison w/Hibiscus, Bottled Diet Root Beer, Harvested Belle Saison yeast starter, bag of grain for Citra Saison.

Bottled Hi-Nelson Saison w/Hibiscus, Bottled Diet Root Beer, Harvested Belle Saison yeast starter, bag of grain for Citra Saison.

Busy day today! Began by pulling the harvested Belle Saison starter from the refrigerator and made it better. Yeast class I attended showed me a couple of things I should fix. I made a new starter wort with DME, chilled down to mid 80’sF, added to my new flask, and oxygenated. Then I decanted the old wort and pitched the yeast slurry into the new wort. I also decanted another harvest jar and added it as well. Put a little sanitized foil over the flask and wrapped a heating pad around it, set on the lowest setting. The yeast really seemed to take off! I hope to cold crash it tonight and pitch it into a Citra Saison tomorrow! Brewing!

Keeping the yeast starter warm.

Keeping the yeast starter warm.

Moving along. Set everything up for bottling…sanitized everything. I”ve done enough photos on bottling before. Suffice it to say, I followed procedure and all went well. The biggest question was about how much corn sugar to add for priming. I wound up with about 5.25 gallons to bottle and used the 5.75oz recommended by Northern Brewer’s calculator. The hydrometer sample was a little foamy, but it looks like the FG is 1.004, after temperature correction. The OG was 1.068, so we wind up with the expected 8.40% ABV. (Woo!) I bottled 31 regular 12 oz bottles and a dozen 22 oz bombers.

This is the Hi-Nelson Saison hydrometer sample after I cold crashed it.

This is the Hi-Nelson Saison hydrometer sample after I cold crashed it.

Since I had everything out for bottling, I went ahead and tried my hand at root beer! I bought extract yesterday. I made a half gallon batch and it was pretty simple, so I did a second 1/2 gallon. Those yielded eleven 12 oz bottles. The last one was a little short, so I added a little water and marked the bottle. I’ll use it as the tester for carbonation. It took 1/2 tablespoon of extract, 2 tablespoons of white sugar, 10 packets of Truvia, and 1/8 teaspoon of  Champagne yeast, rehydrated. Then, warm water to fill the half gallon carboy. Shake to blend well. I used my siphon and bottling cane to fill the bottles. Now we wait and see how it turns out!

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Day 131 Making My First Starter!

 

I’m planning on purchasing supplies tomorrow to make a Citra Saison and attend a “class” put on by SouthYeast Labs. So this evening, I’m trying to make a yeast starter from the Belle Saison yeast that I’m hoping to have successfully harvested recently. I prepared a small wort using a half cup of old liquid extra pale liquid malt and a quart of water. I boiled the wort for ten minutes. The SG is about 1.045. After the boil, I cooled the wort to about 85F and transferred it to a sanitized half gallon carboy, into which I had sprinkled about a half teaspoon of yeast nutrient. Of course, all utensils are sanitized.

Small batch of wort plus a little yeast nutrient.

Small batch of wort plus a little yeast nutrient.

The next step was to pour off much of the liquid from the jar of harvested yeast, give the remains a swirl, and add the yeast to the wort. I then used my oxygen tank to oxygenate the wort for about a minute. [Edit: I know know that I should oxygenate BEFORE adding the yeast to keep from breaking up the yeast buds. Thanks, SouthYeast guy! And the SG shouls be between 1.032 and 1.040…mine was a bit over.]

Oxygenating the wort, after pitching the yeast.

Oxygenating the wort, after pitching the yeast.

I then installed an airlock and moved the carboy to a heating pad set on “low”…the same temperature at which the beer will be fermenting. This is supposed to help the yeast acclimate. A short time will tell if the yeast harvest was successful.

Ready for a little yeast building on the warm heating pad.

Ready for a little yeast building on the warm heating pad.

The day before I brew, I plan to cold crash (refrigerate) to get the yeast to flocculate (fall out of suspension), so I can pour off most of the starter wort and pitch mostly yeast (This limits the impact of the starter wort flavor on the beer). I hope this process is successful. I’m a bit anxious…new milestone!

1:00 a.m.  The starter bottle seemed a little cool to the touch, so I wrapped the heating pad around, it like a jacket, so it gets more surface area contact. I also drew off a sample of the Hi-Nelson Saison w/Hibiscus and ran it from the little sample glass to a 12 oz beer glass, back and forth a couple of times to open up the aroma. Nice color, good nose and it drinks like a nice wine in it’s uncarbed state.

Sample of Hi-Nelson Saison w/Hibiscus held to the light.

Sample of Hi-Nelson Saison w/Hibiscus held to the light.

8:30 a.m.   following morning. Encouraging sign…airlock activity on my starter! Now the question is: How do I determine the number of yeast and if I have enough to pitch a 5 gallon batch of beer? Sanitized my oxygen hose and gave the starter about a 30 second infusion.

7:15 p.m.    Sanitized a cap and around the top of the starter carboy and replaced the airlock with the cap, loosely. The starter went into the refrigerator to cold crash. The procedure is supposed to cause the yeast to flocculate (fall to the bottom). So, now the question is: Did enough additional yeast form or should I repeat this step tomorrow and push my brew day back?

12 Noon third day: decided to use some new knowledge from a yeast class and see if I can give my harvested Belle Saison yeast a stronger growth cycle. I have made a new starter wort, added a half teaspoon of yeast nutrient and chilled it down into the mid 80’s F. I oxygenated the new wort. Drained most of the previous starter wort and pitched the yeast into the new wort. I also grabbed a second washed yeast jar from the fridge and drained most of the water off of it, swirled and pitched that yeast. This new batch is in my new flask with sanitized foil on top and set on the heating pad on the lowest setting.

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Day 130 Racking the Hi-Nelson Saison & Washing Yeast

Set-up to rack to secondary.

Set-up to rack to secondary.

 

It has been 2 weeks and a few days since I brewed the Hi-Nelson Saison (July 4th). A check with the hydrometer, after temperature correction, shows 1.004 SG. I’ll get a final gravity reading at bottling, but right now, the ABV is looking like 8.40%. The hydro sample is an appropriate color, I think. The aroma is nice…not too pronounced yet, but I’m sure dry hopping will change that! The flavor is good, but a bit boozy at this point. I’m using a bottling bucket for primary fermentation and the trub is above the spigot level, so I’m going to have to use a siphon to rack to secondary. Since I’m dry hopping, I’m racking to another bottling bucket, instead of the carboy.

Hi-Nelson Saison hydrometer sample. Ready to rack to secondary.

Hi-Nelson Saison hydrometer sample. Ready to rack to secondary.

So, here we are a few hours later and I got the racking done. The beer in primary fermentation looks good and I can smell the alcohol.

Opening the primary fermentation bucket.

Opening the primary fermentation bucket.

I made the hibiscus tea in a pitcher with a plunger, designed for mixing, but it did a good job straining the flowers out of the tea.

Hibiscus tea.

Hibiscus tea.

I added the tea to the secondary, another bottling bucket and started the racking process.

Mingling the beer and the hibiscus tea via racking.

Mingling the beer and the hibiscus tea via racking.

I sanitized the packets of Nelson Sauvin hops and a pair of scissors and I had a nylon bag soaking in sanitizer.

Ready for dry hopping

Ready for dry hopping

I put the hops pellets in the bag, tied it off and tossed it in the secondary bucket. The new color is striking!

Hibiscus tea and Nelson Sauvin hops are in and ready to seal.

Hibiscus tea and Nelson Sauvin hops are in and ready to seal.

After racking, I still have well over 5 gallons of beer and a little under a gallon of trub.

I have never tried washing and harvesting yeast before, but I’m going to give it a shot and see how it works. I know that higher alcohol exposure may make this attempt not very viable, but I’m going to see what happens.

I have put the lid and airlock back on the trub and boiled a gallon of water.

Hi-Nelson Trub

Hi-Nelson Trub

 

The water is in a gallon carboy in the refrigerator to cool. I’m following a procedure for which I found an online video. It’s basically adding water, mixing, letting it settle and pouring off the yeast into a smaller container, letting that settle and pouring off into smaller containers, then refrigerating. If I’m lucky, enough viable yeast will survive to make a starter and a test batch of beer. The yeast is Belle Saison.

Chilled the gallon of water down…finishing in an ice bath in the sink.

Chilling boiled water for washing yeast.

Chilling boiled water for washing yeast.

I got it down to about 85F. Belle Saison is good up into the 90’s, so it should be good. Sealed bucket and swished around well. After about 45 minutes (I got distracted), I poured off a little over 1/2 gallon into the 1 gallon carboy. It immediately started separating.

Boiled water added and separation done in fermentation bucket. Poured into 1 gallon carboy.

Boiled water added and separation done in fermentation bucket. Poured into 1 gallon carboy.

After settling, I decanted to four 1-pint size jars and transferred those to the refrigerator.

Four pints of (hopefully) harvested Belle Saison yeast.

Four pints of (hopefully) harvested Belle Saison yeast.

We’ll see how that settles out over the next couple of days. I found a fairly simple looking Citra Saison that I may try some of the harvested yeast on…pinned the recipe to Pinterest. I might make it a half batch to keep the investment lower for the first test.

 

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Day 125 July 4th! Brew Day! Saison!

Supplies for brewing today.

Supplies for brewing today.

After some glitches in finding what I needed to brew today and an unexpected trip to Raleigh, I finally got a late start on brewing today. This is what I brewed: Hi Nelson Saison    By FuzzyMittens Recipe specifics: Style: Saison Batch size: 5.0 gal OG: 1.076 FG: 1.000 Bitterness (IBU): 35.5 Color (SRM): 5.1 ABV: 7.5% (my calculator puts this at 9.98%) Grain/Sugars: 11.00 lb Pilsner (Belgian), 78.6%   (Had to substitute German) 1.00 lb Munich 6L, (German), 7.1% 1.00 lb Cane Sugar, 7.1% @ 10 minutes 0.50 lb Flaked Wheat, 3.6% 0.50 lb Flaked Oats, 3.6% Hops: 1.00 oz Nelson Sauvin (AA 13.0%, Pellet) 60 min, 35.5 IBU 0.50 oz Nelson Sauvin (AA 13.0%, Pellet) 0 min, 0.0 IBU 1.50 oz Nelson Sauvin (AA 13.0%, Pellet) dry hop Recipe Notes: Use Belle Saison yeast. Add tea to secondary. Tea is made with half pound of flowers steeped in half gallon of hot water. Mash @ 148 and boiled for 60. The brew went well today. I brewed in the BIAB method. (Brew in a Bag).

(BIAB) Brew in a bag

(BIAB) Brew in a bag

I did have to make a grain substitution, but they are VERY close, so it shouldn’t be a problem. This brew really gets interesting later, when it gets dry hopped with 1-1/2 oz of Nelson Sauvin and in secondary fermentation along with a tea made with dried hibiscus flowers.

Dried Hibiscus F;owers

Dried Hibiscus F;owers

After chilling the wort, I used my new little oxygen tank set up to oxygenate the wort for about two minutes. That should give a healthy yeast action and get fermentation started faster. I wound up with about 6 gallons of wort, but, after the trub and racking, it will likely be back to around 5 gallons. OG is 1.068; a little lower than target of 1.076, but I believe others brewing this recipe were in the same range. If the experience of others holds true in fermentation, the FG would be around 1.004; rather than 1.000 and that would result in an 8.4% ABV. That’s plenty! Looks like the original recipe may have incorrect numbers. OG of 1.076 and FG of 1.000 would be 9.98% ABV, not the 7.5% listed. 10:00 pm No action in the blow off, so I put a heating pad under the bucket on the lowest setting. The original brewer of this recipe talks about ramping the temp up to 90F for the first week, I think. This Belle Saison yeast is supposed to take off fast, especially with the oxygen boost I gave it. Hmmm.

By the way, I put the tepache outside and it is starting to get a little action in the airlock tonight.

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