Sunday, 17 April 2011

Frabjous Saison starts

One of my prime enjoyments in the whole brewing malarky is letting my wheels spin over a period of time while a recipe slowly comes together. This is a big part of where the 'art' in The Art brewing is for me. Its a bit like a low grade itch in the middle of my head when its going on, great!

As i said in an earlier entry i am going to make a Saison to attempt to wean myself off the IPA's(Hah, fat chance)!. I had a read online and then on the advice of Steve at JBK(Jim's Beer Kit) i bought the brew book farmhouse Ales by Phil Markowski. I enjoyed the book and have been returning to the wine like qualities of Saison.

Farmhouse Ales: Culture and Craftsmanship in the Belgian Tradition

With this in mind i bought a couple of kilos of dried Apricots while i was in Turkey the other week. You may ask what Apricots have to do with wine like qualities in Saison? I would of course then distract you with an IPA and hope you forgot your question!

 Dry and seriously attenuated with high carbonation in a Saison makes me think of champagne, this leads me on to Peach Belinis which have nothing in common with champagne but come to mind through Randy Mosher book 'Radical Brewing' and how to make a peach flavoured beer(use Apricots). I will be departing these fine Scottish shores for The Baltic sea in the next few days. I decided i should 'fix' the apricots into a preservable form before going.

While shopping in the market in Turkey i also bought some Oranges and a Lemon straight off the trees.

We start the preservation process(and further additions) to the apricots with a stainless pan, added some boiled water and started liquifying the Apricots.

Once i knew that the Apricots would liquify as expected i just went for it!

Then some more.

The secret to this is to keep the heat as low as possible and stir like crazy.

While doing this i found some time to remove the zest from my Citrus fruit collection.

Quite a lot of zest in fact.

By this point the apricots were well liquified and the solution had become as we scientists call it 'gloopy'. I managed to catch a quick sample while adding water to reduce gloop factor. The vast majority of the sample taken is water with a minimal volume of the liquidish Apricot.I have no way of measuring what amount of sugar is added to the party by using 2kgs of dried Apricots. My extremely rough calcs guess at around 1 kg of sugar. As this is a Farmhouse Ale i am going to go for the rough and ready 'not really bothered approach' coupled with the ever popular 'well you know this particular style of beer is famous for its winelike qualities' line of utter waffle to mask my lack of true ABVness.

Following on from this liberating mindset i decided to throw caution to the wind and use my last almost Kilo of homemade Belgian Style Orange flavoured candi sugar.

In it went and i still think the colour of the candi is great!

Swiftly topped off with the fruit zest and the juice of the Lemon to sterilise but only long enough for that and not to lose the zesty aromas.

After a few minutes i realised that 'Gloopy' had come back to bite me again. Knowing all too well the damage that burnt sugars can do to a beer i used my discretion and called a halt to the proceedings. All was decanted to a large plastic sealable tub and left to cool before being frozen.

The beer itself won't be brewed for over a month and today's endeavour will be used in a slow secondary fermentation to hopefully lock in some of the flavours and colour. As i am 'Through the looking glass' with this beer i decided to borrow Mr Carrols word for the beer name. Hence 'Frabjous' in the title. Since we are in the company of these Belgian Farmers, Hatters and Dormice i though we could keep with Saison tradition and add a little spice. As so much of this beer will be influence by Turkish flavour components i thought it only fair to continue the theme(the Hatter would approve).

Its only a touch of Red but we all know its there!

The grain in this beer is going to be a Marris Otter/Wheat split at 70/30. The hops in this beer will be some of my own homegrown 'First Gold' for bitterness while aroma will come from a smattering of Hallertau Tradition. I am absolutely gagging to get on with this beer but i must learn discipline. :)

Thanks to Bangladesh, The Phillipines, Guernsey, South Korea, Latvia and Macedonia for adding to the List of countries with brewers geting out and about on the web and adding to their own Lore or just laughing quietly at my folly!. Hope you guys are brewing good beer there!

The most exotic brewer of the Month award has to go to the Guy or Gal from Nepal who read The Blog! Isn't it great? From the plains, forests and coasts of our respective countries to the high mountains of Nepal you can smell the mash is on!

Randy Mosher rocks!

Radical Brewing: Recipes, Tales and World-Altering Meditations in a Glass

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Sunday, 3 April 2011

Gasp, horror etc. A beer that's not an IPA!

We tried the Oceania IPA over the past couple of nights. Its a cracking refreshing IPA that has highlights of spicy limes with a sherbety brightness while chilled. As it warms another layer of tropical fruit starts to come out to play. Its bitter and its still young. It is a tad overcarbonated but we are happy to live with that. All in all, its a great beer and can hold its head up anywhere!

While we were there we thought it was time to try my Kingsland Dark IPA for comparison. It has mellowed nicely and is smooooooooth as silk with a sweet chocolate thing going on in amongst the hops. Outstanding and now officially moreish.

So that's two excellent beers that can stand up anywhere. I think it's time to change direction on the beer brewing! With this in mind i asked one of my brewpals at JBK if he could send me a sample of his Saison Dupont yeast from a brew he was completing. Very nice man and this he duely did. The Saison yeast is descended from a red wine yeast so is nothing like my favourite 05 yeast. The Saison needs to be fermented at 30 to 35 degrees to achieve its best profile. I am a cold fermenter with my US-05 yeast and i am not(normally) set up for artificially heated beers.

Maybe  i should say i 'wasn't' set up for these beers. One inverted glass vase, one lava lamp base with bulb and a digital thermometer and i am off and running with a nice wee microclimate boosting the yeast sample up to something useable for a 5 gallon batch!

This is one of the things i like about beermaking. It doesn't have to be fancy to get it to work! I am going to put together a simple recipe for the Saison. it will use the remainder of the  belgian candi sugar i made a few months ago. I am aiming for a lowish ABV(4.5%) highly refreshing Summer drink with an Apricot overtone. I've never made a Saison before so it's going to be fun. I'm off to Turkey tomorrow to buy dried Apricots, I will update on my return. Cheers!  

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