#63 Manneken Pis Saison

Eureka, its time for a relatively recent batch. The recipe below is for a pretty standard Saison beer dry hopped with some Saazer hops. My goal was to brew a dry, low alcohol Saison with a lot of hop character. In my opinion, the most important parts for a Saison beer is the right yeast and the right fermentation temperature to get a high attenuation level and the dryness in the beer. I chose Wyeast’s private collection strain #3726 Farmhouse Ale but any other year around Saison strain should work as well. To get the Saison yeast running, warm fermentation temperatures of approximately 28°C (82°F) are necessary. I brewed the beer last Summer and left a big vat filled with water in my shed and submerged the fermentation vessel in the vat. During the day the water temperature increased to approximately 30 – 35°C (86 – 95°F) and the temperature stayed warm during the night as well. I guess this is not a very sophisticated method to keep your fermentation vessel warm since the temperature is not stable and might influence the yeast. Lets go through the recipe first. Oh, I forgot to mention that I bottled half of the Saison with some raspberries…

Recipe: Manneken Pis Saison
Numbers: Volume [L] 19 (5 gal)
Original gravity 9°P (1.035)
Terminal gravity 1.7 – 2.3°P (1.006 – 1.008)
Color Around 6 EBC
IBU 28 IBU
ABV 3.5 – 3.9% (v/v)
Grains: Pilsner malt (4 EBC) 3.4 kg
Wheat malt (4 EBC) 0.23 kg
Hops: Saazer (3.2% AA) 52.5 g and boil for 60 min
Hallertauer (4.2% AA) 26.7 g and boil for 10 min
Hallertauer (4.2% AA) 26.7 g and boil for 0 min
Saazer (3.2% AA) 52.5 g and boil for 0 min
Saazer (3.2% AA) 32 g for dry hopping
Yeast: Wyeast’s #3726 Farmhouse Ale
Water: Burgdorf Mash: 9 L (2.4 gal), sparge: 15 L (4 gal) @78°C (172°F)
Rest: Mash in @64°C (147°F), 90 min @64°C (147°F), 10 min @ 78°C (172°F)
Boil: Total 90 min
Fermentation: Primary 12 days @28°C (82°F) in plastic fermenter
Secondary 1 month @20°C (68°F) in plastic fermenter
Maturation: Carbonation (CO2 vol) 3 with sugar addition
Maturation time > 21 days

08/11/2012: Brew day number 63. Crushed the grains, mashed in at 64°C and left the mash convert for 90 min. Then sparged and boiled the wort for 90 min with the hop additions mentioned in the protocol above. Then cooled down the wort and pitched fresh Farmhouse Ale yeast and submerged the fermentation vessel in the vat in my shed.

08/23/2012: Racked to secondary fermenter after 12 days of primary fermentation. Gravity down to 2.1°P already. Did the secondary at 20°C (68°F).

08/24/2012: Removed 10 L of the secondary fermenter, transferred into a smaller fermenter and added 2 kg of frozen raspberries:

raspberries09/15/2012: Bottled the raspberry version to a carbon dioxide level of 3 vol and added the Saaz hops to the version without the raspberries.

09/22/2012: Bottled the Saison without the raspberries to a carbon dioxide level of 3 vol. I then left the bottles carbonate for approximately three weeks at ambient temperatures and store the bottles at lower temperatures (not in a refrigerator) since.

Manneken Pis Saison sensory evaluation (after 7 months in bottle):

63Saison_1Aroma: Lots of phenolic and pepper. Smells really nice. Hint of Saazer hops in the nose as well.

Appearance: Yellow, frothy white, long- lasting head, clear (with some grain chunks)

Flavor: Phenolic and spicy driven beer with some lavender and ginger. Really nice!

Mouthfeel: Light body, average carbonation, dry finish

Overall Impression: Really refreshing with its ABV of 4.5%. Nice phenolic, spicy character.

Manneken Pis Saison sensory evaluation (after 7 months in bottle) with B. lambicus addition at bottling:

Aroma: Phenolic, pepper in the front and leathery in the back. Definitely picking up some Brett funk in the nose. Even some urine smell…

Appearance: Yellow, frothy white, long-lasting head, clear (with some grain chunks). Looks the same as the non-Brett Saison.

Flavor: Again phenolic and spicy notes dominate on the palate. No Brett funk detectable.

Mouthfeel: Light body, average carbonation level, grassy finish with light funky tang (tart and astringent).

Overall Impression: Flavor profile is close to no Brett Saison. The Brett only contributes to additional components in the smell and the tart, astringent finish. To be honest, I prefer the Brett infused Saison over the clean one. It kind of makes this beer a bit bolder and down-to-earth and reminds me of the original Saison setting (barnyard, refreshing beer). Really looking forward what will happen to this beer in the future.

Raspberry infused Manneken Pis Saison sensory evaluation (after 8 months in bottle):

IMG_1670Aroma: Dry raspberry smell with some grassy-herbal background notes. No hops or any phenolic, pepper aroma

Appearance: Red, clear with some fruit debris, nice pink head

Flavor: Very light raspberry flavor. Very dry

Mouthfeel: Light body, average carbonation level, dry fruity, grassy finish

Overall Impression: Fresher examples had more raspberry on the palate. Nevertheless, this is a very nice beer. Really enjoying this. And not sweet like many other fruit beers. Really interesting!

Really happy how all these beers turned out differently. I will do another batch of this recipe soon (without the raspberries) and play around with some different Brettanomyces strains. The raspberries were just a small experiment to see how much raspberries are necessary to get some of the fruit flavor into the beer. I will focus on some Berliner Weisse recipes soon and one share will be made with some raspberries. 200 g fruits per Liter of beer seem to work very well. Cheers!

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A glimpse into Swiss Lager beers

Eureka, take this blog post serious if you ever encounter Swiss Lager beers. Like most of the countries on Earth, Switzerland is no exception (for once…): the most sold beers are yellow, fizzy and clear. Not much to say about the taste. Generic lager.  IMG_1415Because we are interested in beer, we simply wanted to find out if there is a Swiss Lager beer with a unique taste and how different they are compared to each others. We therefore selected some beers, sneaked in some foreign Lager beers as well and did a blind tasting. I would like to mention, the ranking below does not represent a true ranking rather than a personal ranking. In addition, we selected only some Lager beers. We simply can’t evaluate all of them side-by-side.

Canwall_resizedWe selected the following beers: Feldschlösschen Original (Feldschlösschen being the biggest brewery in Switzerland and part of Carsberg) and maybe one of the most sold beers in Switzerland, Feldschlösschen Premium, Rugenbräu Lager Hell (independent brewery), Cardinal Draft (brewery owned and closed by Feldschlösschen), Eichhof Lager (brewery owned by Heineken), Kronenbourg (French brewery owned by Carlsberg), Heineken, Falken Lagerbier hell (independent brewery), Quöllfrisch Hell (independent brewery) and finally a beer brewed for a liquor store chain in Switzerland called “Drinks of the world”. The beer landscape in Switzerland is very typical: Some big ones and a lot of small, independent ones. The big ones in Switzerland are Carlsberg and Heineken.
All the beers were evaluated without the knowledge of the beer brand.

The tasting was even harder than expected. Most of the beers taste very similar. Although some really have distinctive characters (either good or bad ones). Funny enough, we had the impression that Heineken should be the best of all (possibly due to their commercials…) and Falken Lagerbier Hell the worst. Maybe because we had a can of this beer before and it tasted really metallic. Below is the list how the beer really ended up in our ranking.

Rank

Brand/brewery

Comments

1

Falken Lagerbier Hell Rather nice smell (compared to others)

2

Eichhof Lager Even some very, very faint hop aroma

3

Feldschlösschen Original Boring but solid

3

Cardinal Draft Peanuts and apple aroma, no real head

4

Rugenbräu Lager Hell Harsh bitterness in aftertaste

5

Quöllfrisch Hell (Locher) Weird metallic taste

6

Kronenbourg Darker color (deep yellow), huge peanuts smell

7

Drinks of the World house beer Alcoholic smell, metallic

8

Feldschlösschen Premium Peanut and urine smell

9

Heineken Very pale yellow color, no head, alcoholic burning smell, weird bitterness and alcoholic and green apple, metallic finish (just awful to drink)

First of all, I don’t want to bash any breweries here. Just give my opinion about the products they sell. Lets begin with the least enjoyable one: Heineken. This beer was close to undrinkable. Simply because of its smell. The aroma on the palate was not really nice as well. The next beers, place 8 to 4 taste, smell and look really similar. With the exception of Kronenbourg which is a bit darker in color. On the third place are two beers. Simply because we could not decide which of the two is better. On second place is Eichhof’s Lager beer. Solid beer. And the first place goes to Falken’s Lagerbier Hell. This beer smelled different from all the other ones (could not even detect any off-flavors). Funny enough, the best and worse beer are exactly the opposite what we expected. That’s the power of a blind tasting.

Just don’t get me wrong. Falken’s Lager Hell is not the best nor the worst beer I ever had. It is just the best in this blind tasting event. There is something else that I would like to point out here. I can’t stand breweries who label their beers with the “Premium” tag. Traditionally, breweries put a lot of money into commercials to sell their beers with the “Premium” label. Making these beers more expensive. And what I take from the ranking above, the only two cans with the “Premium” label finished last. The “Premium” therefore can’t stand for the taste experience. Rather for the premium price you pay for less taste.

Verdict from this tasting, there are indeed some Lager beers with (minor) flavor/aroma differences. Unfortunately, most of the differences are due to off-flavors either present or absent. Putting the test in an international view, the Swiss beers are at least as good as some foreign beer brands. Cheers!

Tasting: #40 Gielis Tripel

Eureka, and welcome to a new blog post of mine. This is about a batch bottled a few months ago, the Gielis Tripel brewed in September 2011. This post was sitting around for ages. And now is the time to spread the word how the beer tasted in the end.

gielisscaled

Aroma: Very elegant smell: Phenolic, pepper notes, lavender, fruity (gooseberries) and nice hop aroma (fresh-cut grass). No alcohol detectable nor any other off-flavors.

Appearance: Golden to yellow color, clear, with a nice frothy white head, nice bubbling going on. Head disappears rather quickly (as seen in picture above).

Flavor: Sweet malt character with phenolic yeast character. Very subtle character and balanced bitterness. Really well made. No component overpowers another.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, low to average carbonation level (could be a bit more), dry finish with no alcohol warming sensation.

Overall Impression: What a treat. I see Belgian Tripels as a very hard to make beer style because the aroma and flavors are rather subtle and mainly derive from the yeast strain. This makes it especially hard to cover any off-flavors. Any off-flavor would be recognizable immediately. I would like to mention, that the beer now has some autolysis character (umami taste and smell). I would therefore drink this beer within a few months. Last to mention, this beer (brewed by my brother) won him a first place at a national homebrew competition. Nothing to add more. In my opinion, a spot on example of the Belgian Tripel style. Since we now have the base recipe, its time to play around to make this Tripel unique in its own. Thanks for reading, commenting and stay tuned!

Tasting: Mikkeller’s Yeast Series 2.0

Eureka, I would like to share some of my tasting experiences of Mikkeller’s Yeast Series 2.0. The basic idea behind this series was to compare different yeast strains and their effects on the beer’s aroma and taste. I could get my hands on five of the six beers in the series (English Ale yeast is missing) and did a side-by-side tasting.

IMG_1505_cutThe base beer was all the same. In one case, the beer was fermented with a Lager strain, another one with an American Ale strain, yet another one with a Saison strain and two with Brettanomyces lambicus and Brettanomyces bruxellensis respectively. Lets see how they tasted and the individual strain’s impact on the flavor profile.

IMG_1509_cutLager yeast

Aroma: Very hoppy aroma (lots of grapes, fruits). The combination of all the hops used (Simcoe, Nugget, Warrior, Amarillo and Centennial) remind me of Nelson Sauvin hops. No yeast character.

Appearance: Orange, clear, 1 finger white head, nice bubbling.

Flavor: Fruity, nice bitterness level.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, average carbonation level, bitter/fruity aftertaste and a grassy finish

Overall Impression: Rather clean beer (in terms of yeast character). Very pronounced hop aroma and bitterness and a grassy finish

 

IMG_1512_cutAmerican Ale yeast

Aroma: Less hoppy than Lager example. Even a musty component in there. Doesn’t smell clean at all.

Appearance: Orange, clear, 1 finger white head, nice bubbling.

Flavor: Luckily nothing of the weird musty aroma is on the palate. Very fruity beer with a well-balanced bitterness. No typical yeast character.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, average carbonation level, bitter/fruity aftertaste. No grassy finish

Overall Impression: Compared to the Lager version, this beer is smoother in terms of bitterness. The bitterness is well incorporated and there is no grassy finish. However, the aroma in this beer is not as nice. We could not detect any yeast character in this example.

IMG_1513_cutSaison yeast

Aroma: Pine, lots of tropical fruits and citrus and some spicy character (pepper).

Appearance: Orange, clear, 1 finger white head, nice bubbling.

Flavor: Again some fruits and some spiciness in addition.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, average carbonation level, slight bitter aftertaste and a grassy finish and even a bit astringent.

Overall Impression: Slightly different aroma compared to the previous two examples. This time, we could detect some yeast specific character (pepper). This yeast seems to accentuate the bitterness in the aftertaste including a grassy, astringent finish.

IMG_1515_cutBrettanomyces lambicus yeast

Aroma: Subtle hop aroma, no funk…

Appearance: Orange, clear, 1 finger white head, nice bubbling.

Flavor: A bit of a disappointment. Subtile fruity beer with a well-balanced bitterness. No typical yeast character and no funk. Actually a rather clean beer.

Mouthfeel: Medium to low body, average carbonation level, slight bitter aftertaste.

Overall Impression: Not very funky nor very interesting. Average beer. We could not detect any yeast character.

IMG_1514_cutBrettanomyces bruxellensis yeast

Aroma: Wow, now we are talking. There is some Brett funk going on: Wood notes, horse blanket, slight vinegar and the hop profile in the back. This beer reminds me of Cantillon’s Iris with Nelson Sauvin hops instead of the Saaz hops they use. Simply amazing smell!

Appearance: Orange, clear, 1 finger white head, nice bubbling.

Flavor: Unfortunately, not a lot of funk on the palate. Some leathery notes are present. Some fruity notes as well and a well incorporated bitterness. Rather clean beer.

Mouthfeel: Medium to low body, average carbonation level, no bitter nor grassy aftertaste. Hint of tartness reminds of the Brettanomyces in this beer.

Overall Impression: Judging from the smell, the most interesting one in the series for sure. B. bruxellensis really shows itself here. The aroma profile of this beer is surprisingly complex in my opinion. The flavor on the other side is not very yeast pronounced. But the finish is rather pleasant again.

What we learned from this tasting:

Lager strain: Gives a hop forward beer. Clean and very pronounced hop aroma. More pronounced bitterness and a grassy finish.

American Ale strain: Well incorporated bitterness and nice finish. This strain seems to work for more hop forward beers.

Saison strain: Some yeast specific character in the nose and palate. This strain accentuates the bitterness and leads to a grassy and astringent finish. Not really working for me. The spicy character, the grassy thing and the astringency makes it hard to enjoy this beer.

B. lambicus strain: Not a very funky Brett strain. Rather clean beer (compared to B. bruxellensis version). A side note. This doesn’t have to be true for every B. lambicus strain. There are so many B. lambicus strains with different flavor profiles.

B. bruxellensis strain: Lots of Brett character in the nose. But not so much on the palate. Rather clean and smooth beer with a nice bitterness level and no grassy finish.

I will put some efforts into brewing something like the B. bruxellensis beer myself. I am really fascinated about the complexity one can get with a single Brettanomyces fermented beer. Unfortunately, I tried to isolate some yeast from different Mikkeller beers before (brewed by DeProef) but never managed to recover any viable yeasts from the sediments in the bottles. I guess all the DeProef’s beers are pasteurized and therefore no (or a very small) chance to get any living yeasts out of bottles. That’s why I did not bother to isolate the B. bruxellensis strain at all. Thanks for reading, commenting and stay tuned!