corked and caged saider

The making of Amour, a French Saison (and Saider!)

I haven’t been talking much about our homebrew adventures of late, but that’s not for lack of activity, just standard life craziness. So let’s update!

All the way back in November I was asked to participate in the first ever CannonBLOG Event at Fifty West Brewing. The back story to this is that the  50W brewers started a competition called Cannonball amongst their staff for who can brew and pair the best beer/food. For CannonBLOG they changed things up and asked us Cincy beer bloggers to brew beer instead!

CannonBLOG! at Fifty West

Myself, Hoperatives, the Brew Professor, Beer Mumbo, Queen City Fresh, Jesse from WCPO #9Beer and Queen City Drinks all gathered together at Fifty West, had some tasty brunch, and brewed. It was a fantastically fun day and we all learned a thing or two about the various homebrew systems we all have.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the day.

For our beer, I decided we should brew up that farmhouse saison I told you about, but this time try out the Wyeast 3711 French Saison Yeast. The beer turned out great, but in the end Beer Mumbo won the competition with his Whiskey Morning, a brown ale with whiskey soaked oak chips (a very tasty beer). We placed third behind Brew Professor’s extremely drinkable American Pale Pale. I was still quite proud of our beer, a very citrus and fruit forward saison, though I think it would’ve benefited from higher carbonation. We got many compliments on the beer and some folks even asked for the recipe, SO! here it is:

“Amour” French Saison

  • 1 liter yeast starter using a packet of Wyeast 3711 French Saison Yeast
  • 9 lbs pilsner malt
  • 2 lbs torrified wheat
  • 4 lbs light munich malt
  • 1/2 lb flaked wheat
  • .25 oz warrior hops (AA 16.7%) @ 60 minutes (use a hop bag if you have one)
  • .5 oz Citra hops (AA 12.5%) @ 30 minutes
  • .5 oz Citra hops @ 15 minutes
  • 1 organic orange, zest removed in strips with a potato peeler
  • 1/2 organic grapefruits worth of zest as above
  • 2 grams of black peppercorn
  • 1 gram of coriander
  • 1 oz Sorachi Ace hops for dry hopping in secondary (in hindsight I might have chosen a different hop like citra, or not dry hopped at all. I found the Sorachi Ace a little minty and odd. Not bad . . . just strange)

This recipe will produce a 5 gallon batch of beer. Mash in at 148 degrees for 45 minutes, then step up to 152 for another 45 minutes. Mash out. Boil for 60 minutes. At 5 minutes we add a whirlfloc tablet, which is a blend of Irish moss and purified carrageenan that helps prevent hazy beer. You should really check out Beer Mumbo’s excellent post about other ways to make a nice clear beer. At the very end of the boil add the orange and grapefruit zest, coriander and black peppercorns into the hop bag. We always ferment in plastic buckets, typically for a week or two then transfer to a glass carboy for another week or two. This yeast, unlike the Belgian saison yeast, ferments best at room temp.

Here are the specs:  

  • Pre-boil gravity: 1.063
  • Post boil gravity: 1.071
  • Final gravity: 1.007
  • ABV: 8.6% ABV
  • IBU: 32 IBU
  • SRM: 7

We estimated our efficiency at 75% and realized we’re really at 85% which is why our version ended up as high in ABV as it did (we were shooting for ~7.5%). Next time we brew this we’ll probably decrease our total malt by 10%.

When we actually brewed it, we added 30% extra grain so that we’d end up with 3 gallons of extra wort for our experimental saison cider hybrid, “Saider.” All we did was add the wort to 2 gallons of freshly pressed cider juice (after letting it sit for 24-48 hours with 1/4 tsp of sulfites to kill off any wild yeast). We fermented with the same French saison yeast. We aged the saider for extra time since cider takes a couple months to taste really great. The final gravity ended up at 1.000 – super dry! You can’t quite tell that it is that dry, I think the fruitiness in the saison really helps but the flavor really came together after aging.

We just bottled the Saider with our super awesome new corking tool. We wanted to carbonate at 3.75 volumes of CO2 to get the traditional high carbonation of many Belgian styles. This requires thicker Belgian style bottles, and we’re crazy so wanted them to look authentic with corks and cages. I took a couple of short videos on Instagram of the corking and caging process, super fun! I can’t WAIT to see what it tastes like after carbonation is complete, but we’ve got another week to go before I’m willing to try it. Then there’s our new IPA to tell you about. That’ll be carbed next week and is sure to be delicous too. 

Stay tuned!

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