Wednesday, 18 June 2014

BIAB #7 - Vienna Sorachi Saison

A while back I received a message from Graham, one of the fellow Macc Homebrew Club members, mentioning he was having a bit of an email chin-wag with James Kemp, former brewer at Buxton, Thornbridge and Fullers, giving him loads of useful advice on brewing a black IPA. Now, if anyone is going to know how to brew a BIPA, then it’s James, as he is the brewing experience behind the likes of Buxton’s Black Rocks and Thornbridge’s Wild Raven no less. The basic gist of the conversation was that a large flame out hop addition will add a fair chunk of bitterness, which most brewing software will actually register as zero IBUs, and you make up the IBU numbers with a smaller 60 minute addition. Doing this will apparently result in a much smoother bitterness and flavour. This intrigued me so I did some research and stumbled across a great article on late-hopping on, which in a way stated the same thing, with views from well known US brewers such as Alesmith and Firestone. 

So with my next brew, I was planning on another SMaSH, revisiting a 100% Vienna malt base and throwing in the 100 grams of Sorachi Ace I had recently acquired from Al. With Sorachi having such a lemony flavour profile it made sense to go saison, so I ordered a sack of malt and some Danstar Belle Saison yeast from the Malt Miller. Having read the Mrmalty article, I totally ripped out my hop schedule and decided to go bold with a single 100g 10 minute addition. 

Not only will this be the first time using a different yeast from tried and trusted US-05, but I had also recently upgraded my kit with the acquisition of a new 29 litre Brupaks boiler, doubling my brewing capacity in an instant. Still being short on brew space I planned to continue down the BIAB route, but at least I now had the option to throw a separate mash tun in the mix further down the line to go traditional all-grain. Instead of sewing together a new larger grain sack I just bought two metres of voile material from the local textile shop, doubled it up by folding it in half and pushed it inside the boiler. I’d then simply just gather up the corners and hoist out the makeshift sack. Ta-da! 

On brewday I thought I’d try a 90 minute mash in an attempt to squeeze some more efficiency out of the grain as I had been falling slightly short with my predicted gravity. Having the grist sat in the voile lining within the boiler made stirring the grain so much easier and I can safely say that this time there wasn’t a single dough ball. The only drawback to this method is lifting the sack out, as 5 Kg of wet grain certainly isn’t light! With the back straining and the grain dunked in the sparge water it was time to put my new boiler through it’s paces. I had read various reviews about the safety cut-out inconveniently kicking in mid boil with the Brupaks boilers, but my problem was that it wasn’t even turning on! After a period of head scratching, I realised I had switched it off at the wall when mashing in...bloody rookie!

With the one and only hop addition the boil was a pretty laid back affair and having a boiler fitted with a bazooka hop filter meant I could just lob the lot in rather than having to put them in hop sacks, which felt reassuring as I have suspected that I’ve been losing a bit of hop utilisation with the hops jostling for space in sacks. I have to say I was seriously pleased with how well my new purchase performed. No only was it a more vigorous, rolling boil than I was used to with the ‘old pot on stove’ solution, but it reached the boil in record time, knocking at least 30 minutes off the waiting time. 

With the boil done it was time to see how well my old copper coil coped with cooling double the amount of wort. Initially it was working a treat, but then the cooling slowed down massively, almost to a halt. I know passed a certain point, it does take longer to cool the wort down, but this was taking an absolute age. I was convinced my coil wasn’t up to the task of cooling that volume of wort. It was only when I pulled out the thermometer probe and it remained at 60 degrees I realised the damn thing was broken...again! Thankfully, after last time it failed it’s purpose, I had bought a backup spirit thermometer and things were indeed cooling, but not quite at the pace I was expecting. Maybe I was just being impatient due to the cooling times I experienced with my previous kit? 

With the wort continuing to cool, I made a start on getting the yeast rehydrated and ready for action. I was so used to buying single packs of US-05, which is enough for a 21 litre batch, I neglected to RTFM for the Danstar Belle Saison and so didn’t realise it equated to a gram of yeast per litre of wort, and they come in 11 gram packs! Thankfully before brewday, Graham, from the club, was putting an order in with the Malt Miller so I piggy-backed on his order and he managed to get the extra pack to me in plenty of time...phew! I boiled up 220ml of water in a conical flask (another recent purchase) and left it to cool to the desired temperature (30-35°C) with some tin foil covering the opening, helping things along by running cold water over the base of the flask. Once it hit around 34°C I emptied the two sachets of yeast into the container, broke up any clumps with the end of the thermometer and let it sit for 15 minutes per the instructions. 

With the wort getting close to the pitching temperature, I transferred it into the FV and left the temperature controller to take over temp measurement duties. It was still a bit high so I let it sit for an hour or so, not ideal, as the yeast really needed to be pitched as soon as possible. I threw the yeast in and left it to do it’s thang. The temp rose to around 22-23°C and stayed there for a couple of days, but Danstar advise not to cool it and just leave it to work it’s magic. With it being a Saison of course you want those Sainsony esters! 

The OG was bang on my predicted figure of 1.050 so the extra mashing time seems to have worked a treat. Swigging down the sample, it was indeed very bitter, with lovely fresh lemony citrus notes coming through, perfect for summertime drinking. All-in-all, it was a pretty successful brewday. 

Fermentation completed without a hitch, with the temperature controller only kicking in towards the end of the cycle. It made a change to be bottling more than 20 bottles, meaning I'd have enough to hand out and also enjoy myself! So, the finished product - it was definitely a saison, with that sharp, undeniably yeasty flavour coming through in spades, but thankfully the lemony citrus tones of the Sorachi was right up there alongside, both playing off nicely against the Vienna malt base. Great result, if I do say so myself.

 Name Type EBC Percentage  Amount
ViennaGrain5.9100 %5 Kg

 Name AA% Amount Use Time
Sorachi Ace11.8 %100 gBoil10 mins