Here in Toronto, we don’t get the real Chinooks like out west. That said, Josh and Chris were planning a brew day, and it was set to be an unusually warm day for an early March day. So throwing an homage to the warms winds from the Rockies, they planned out a Saison and Biere de Garde using all-Chinook hops.
40 litres split into two batches.
- OG 1.044 (projected 1.055)
- FG 1.004 (saison) & 1.008 (biere de garde)
- 10 SRM
- 28 IBU
- 4kg Floor Malted Pilsner
- 2kg Wheat Flakes
- 1kg Vienna Malt
- 1kg Rye Flakes
- 454g Amber Candi Sugar
- 200g Clear Candi Sugar
- 1oz Chinook (13%) 40m
- 2oz Chinook (13%) 5m
- 4oz Chinook (13%) 0m
- White Labs WLP590 French Saison
- Wyeast 3725 Biere de Garde
Brewnorth was closed for the week for a well-deserved holiday, so Chris headed over to the new Dundas West location of Toronto Brewing to pick-up some of his go-to Wyeast 3711. But, *gasp* they were out! Settling instead on White Labs WLP590 French Saison, he also noticed there was a smack-pack of Wyeast 3725 Biere de Garde in the free expired yeast bin, so he grabbed that too.
Two days before the brew day, Chris made up a starter for each yeast, and let them get to work.
Grains milled, and strike water heated, and as always Chris fucked up the math somehow and we missed our target mash temp of 147F by 10 degrees! So decoction to the rescue! Sitting at the proper temp, we mashed for 60 minutes (plus about 15 while doing the decoction).
Vorlauf for about 5 minutes, then started our run-off. We had also added some extra hot water to bump up the temp (which could explain our low efficiency), but as the water level neared the level of the grain bed, we started our manual fly-sparge. With 44 litres of wort collected, we brought the kettle to the boil.
First hop addition went in at the boil, and we started the clock for a 40 minute boil. Nothing notable happened, 5 and 0 minute hop additions went in, and we flamed-out, fired up the whirlpool via our DIY counter-flow chiller to sanitize it, and whirlpooled for 10 minutes, then did a 10 minute stand. We started the cold-water in the chiller, dropped the kettle out-flow into the first sanitized carboy, and got going. A quick check showed our gravity was at 1.044 which was low, but again, our extra watery mash could account for that. Once the wort was split, we pitched our yeast and cleaned-up.
Fermentation started quickly with both beers, and 12 hours later both were bubbling happily. Due to not knowing how aggressively either yeast acted, Chris had to choose between the laundry room (where mopping up is no big deal) or the bath tub, but wanting to keep the temp up (and lacking literally any form of temperature control other than the house thermostat), he went for the bath tub.
5 days later both airlocks had fallen pretty much silent, so the first gravity check was taken and showed that the BdG was exactly where we wanted it (1.008) and the saison was still a bit higher than we like (at 1.004 vs <1.002). Two days later we confirmed that nothing had changed (it hadn’t). But the BdG was super hazy; it doesn’t seem like that yeast floccs out much. So it was time to have a first crack at gelatin fining. The BdG fermenter got moved outside overnight (outside temp that night was ~2C), and the next morning we added 1/2tsp of gelatin via the method explained at Brulosophy here. The fermenter was moved to the crawlspace under Chris’ front porch, as outside temps for the week was predicted at being -2 – 5C. The beer didn’t clarify as quickly as others have reported, but 2 days later it was very clear. At that point the saison joined it to crash as well, and they are ready to be bottled.
Ugh, lesson learned. So, the carboys were under the front porch, in the crawlspace. I took my meticulously cleaned bottling bucket out, and racked the saison into it. Lifted it up to carry inside, and a few steps towards the house, the handle on the bucket broke. Beer everywhere, mostly on me. There was nearly 2 litres left in the bucket (very agitated, probably will show some oxidization), so those got bottled, the rest seeped down the driveway towards the curb, the storm sewers, and lake Ontario. The good news was it broke while I was still outdoors (not, say, in my living room). And I still got a bit of beer to taste. Needless to say, with the Biere de Garde, and every time moving forward, I’ll be lifting by the bottom of buckets, and moving them in milk crates. BdG bottled off fine, and all are safely in a closed rubbermaid roughneck (so if any explode, the glass and liquid will be contained).
More to come.
Update: The precious few bottles of Saison are lovely, spicy with just a touch of fruitiness. The Biere de Garde really shows its malts well, is nicely dry, and has an assertive presence from the yeast. But don’t take our word for it; it won 1st place in the Farmhouse category in the GTA Brews Spring Showdown!