Slow Dance -Kettle Soured Saison with Brett, Honey, and Oak

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Slow Dance was kettle soured on 08/12/16 and boiled on 08/14/16.  Sorry about the lack of brew day picks for this beer, my camera had died and I didn’t feel like waiting till it charged.  This beer sort of killed two beers with one stone for me; I wanted to brew another sour after the success I had with Acid Rainbow, and I wanted to brew another Saison after the mediocre Farmhouse Disco.

I really enjoyed Acid Rainbow as a base sour beer without a ton of complexity.  It’s an easy drinking summer sour and would be a great base for further experimentation.  I wanted the second sour I did to be different from that beer with some layered complexity.  I thought a Saison would be a base style that would lend itself well to being soured.  I have mixed feelings about Saison.  It’s a style I’d really like to love, but I just can’t get myself there.  I know when I’m drinking a great one, and I’ve actually really enjoyed some of the ones I’ve had.  I’ve had some Hill Farmstead Saisons for example, and they blew me away.  I realized that most of the examples of the style either had hopping levels similar to a pale ale, or were fermented with some wild yeasts.  I decided to take those two elements and combine them here in Slow Dance.

I started with a pretty simple base Saison grain bill, with a good dose of wheat for a bit of body and mouthfeel, as well as some honey malt for a hint of sweetness that I hope fill carry into the final product.  I then kettle soured this beer for two days.  This is a small batch of beer, 2.75 gallons, and I don’t have a secondary fermenter that size to age this.  I would have liked to have done a traditional sour here since I’ve heard there are more complexities, but a kettle sour method will do.  For primary fermentation I chose Omega Yeast Labs C2C Saison/Brett blend.  The Saison strain comes from a Northeast brewery which I’m hoping is Hill Farmstead, and Brett from a West Coast brewery.  I’m excited to see how the Belgian esters (which I’m not normally a fan of on their own) play with the tart Lacto and Brett funk.

In addition to the interesting blend of bacteria and yeast, I plan adding wildflower honey after primary fermentation is complete, as well as a small amount of oak cubes for a couple weeks prior to bottling.  I’m hoping that while this will be a complex beer, these flavors should all blend well together to make a cohesive final product.

For the hops, I am hoping for a little fruitiness from them to complement the existing flavors rather than overshadow them.  The Nelson hops’ wine like flavor should compliment the dry tartness of a sour Saison, while the citrus qualities of the Amarillo should add some nice fruitiness to compliment the yeast esters and funk.

The two brew days for this went pretty well for the most part.  The mash and sparge on the first day went as planned, I hit my mash temp of 152 for an hour, collected my wort in the kettle and heated to 180 to kill any unwanted bacteria or other critters present from the grains.  I cooled to 95 degrees and pitched my Lactobacillis blend.  It sat covered in the kettle from Friday to Sunday when I boiled for 90 minutes due to the Pilsner malt.  I added hops at 5 minutes and flameout, let that sit for about 10 minutes to soak in, and then cooled to 70 and took a hydrometer sample.  My sample was way high.  This was the first time I’ve done a 2.75 gallon batch on my propane burner, I usually do them on the stove.  I boiled off much more than expected.  I hopped on beersmith and added about a couple quarts of water to get back to my intended OG before the honey, which was in the low 1.050’s.  The honey should bring my OG to 1.061.  After making my corrections, I pitched my C2C Saison Brett blend and will let this ferment in my warm garage without any temperature control.  The garage is insulated, so it stays consistently around 80 degrees in the summer, so it should ferment warm without getting too hot and throwing out off flavors.

I don’t have my exact water profile I used, I forgot to save it, bit I think my Calcium and Chloride where both around 130, and my S04 was 75.

Recipe Specifications

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Batch Size (fermenter): 2.75 gal
Estimated OG: 1.061 SG
Estimated Color: 4.8 SRM
Estimated IBU: 14.8 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 78.00 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Ingredients:
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Amt Name Type # %/IBU
3 lbs 8.0 oz Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 60.9 %
1 lbs Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM) Grain 2 17.4 %
4.0 oz Acidulated (Weyermann) (1.8 SRM) Grain 3 4.3 %
4.0 oz Honey Malt (Gambrinus) (25.0 SRM) Grain 4 4.3 %

12.0 oz Honey (1.0 SRM) Sugar 13.0 %

0.50 oz Amarillo [9.20 %] – Boil 5.0 min Hop 5 6.4 IBUs
0.50 oz Nelson Sauvin [12.00 %] – Boil 5.0 min Hop 6 8.4 IBUs
0.50 oz Amarillo [9.20 %] – Boil 0.0 min Hop 7 0.0 IBUs
0.50 oz Nelson Sauvin [12.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min Hop 8 0.0 IBUs

1.0 pkg C2C American Farmhouse (Omega #OYL-217) Yeast 9 –
1.0 pkg Lactobacillus Blend (Omega #OYL-605) Yeast 10 –

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Light Body, No Mash Out
Total Grain Weight: 5 lbs 12.0 oz
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Name Description Step Temperat Step Time
Mash In Add 6.25 qt of water at 171.1 F 152.0 F 60 min

Bottling Update 09/12/16:  I ended up adding honey a week after brewday when primary fermentation had settled.  After another week, I added an ounce of oak cubes that I had boiled.  I left those oak cubes in the beer for two weeks until bottling on 09/12/16, four weeks after brew day.  The FG of this beer came in at 1.007.  Even with the Brett, I think that should be low enough to bottle without worrying about bombs.  The final ABV came in at 7%.  The flavor was already delicious.  Sour, but the Saison and Brett characters were evident at well.  The oak added some real nice complexity without overpowering.  I can’t wait to see what time and carbonation does with this beer!

Tasting Notes 10/27/16:

Appearance:  Slow Dance pours a moderately hazy deep gold.  The beer poured with a better head than I usually get with sours.  The head clings nicely to the side of the glass.

Smell:  The initial aroma is heavy on the Lacto and Brett aromas.  You can tell that this is going to be complex just from the smell.  The Lacto lends some acidic pineapple aroma.  There’s also some of that unmistakable barnyard Brett funk.  Under all of that is lemon zest and a healthy dose of floral from the hops and honey.  I’m not really getting anything from the Saison yeast or the oak in the aroma.

Taste:  Tart and funky are the things that hit you right off the bat.  The tartness has a lemon or lime type of citrus to it.  Under the tartness and funk are some honey notes from the combination of honey malt and wildflower honey.  Its just a hint of underlying sweetness.  There’s a bit of graininess from the Pilsner malt in there as well.  I’m not really getting much oak from this, it’s very subtle.  I don’t get much of the traditional Belgian esters from the Saison yeast, they are overshadowed by the more dominant Lacto and Brett flavors.  The flavors from the hops blend seamlessly with the other flavors from the bacteria and yeasts.

Mouthfeel:  This beer is lighter bodied with lively carbonation.  It finishes pretty dry and crisp as a Saison should.  The higher percentage of wheat keeps it from ever feeling too thin.  Slow Dance is pretty refreshing for a 7% ABV beer.

Overall:  I’m pretty thrilled with this beer.  The tartness and Brett flavors came together really well.  The wildflower honey added some nice dryness and some wonderful floral qualities.  I wish the oak and actual Saison flavors would have been a little more evident, but I’m pleased with the way that all these flavors have blended.  When I put this together, I wasn’t certain all of these flavors would blend, it could have been a jumbled mess of clashing ingredients, but it came together well.  I could probably balance them all a bit better, but this is good!  I’d keep the recipe the same for next time, I’d maybe just give the Lacto a day in the kettle rather than two in order to tone the tartness down just a bit.  I’d also increase the time the beer sits on the oak to try and extract a bit more from it.