Monday, May 14, 2018

Brew Day - Strong Saison with Bitter Orange

NYE "Champagne."

My adoration for Brasserie Dupont's "Avec les Bons Veoux" began several years ago. The first time I had it I was blown away by the beer's ability to balance such a big, rich malt character with a beautifully spicy yeast expression. Knowing it is brewed in celebration of New Years, a couple years back I decided to begin drinking it instead of champagne on the 31st. Garnering inspiration from ALBV, I decided to craft something similar that packs a bit more punch than a traditional Saison.

In designing the beer, I knew I wanted a complex, rustic malt character with a distinctly dry finish. I love including unmalted grains other than barley in my Saisons and this beer is no exception. To amp up the earthiness of the malt profile I used a combination of equal parts flaked spelt and flaked rye. Additionally, I included a portion of Vienna to enrich the maltiness and lend a subtle toasty note.  To round out the fermentables I added corn sugar to ensure the beer would attenuate to around 1.010 or less for a dry finish.

To provide a similar yeast profile as ALBV, I chose White Labs Belgian Saison I. Purported to be isolated from Brasserie Dupont, this strain exhibits a lot of the character people associate with the Saison style due to Saison Dupont's popularity. It is distinctly earthy and peppery while lending a subtle, pleasing tartness. I've brewed with both this strain and the Dupont-isolated Wyeast strain (Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saison), but I've found I prefer the White Labs strain. There are a lot of similarities between the two strains, but I prefer the more pronounced spice profile I get from the White Labs strain. To avoid the maniacal "Saison-stall," I take Drew Beechum's advice and open ferment the beer for the first couple days of active fermentation.

Finally, as I am living in Rome, I decided to take advantage of the early winter harvest of citrus fruits in the Mediterranean. I decided to use fresh bitter orange grown on the grounds of the American Academy in Rome and picked by the crew of the Rome Sustainable Food Project. Knowing I wanted to infuse the flavor and aroma of orange into the beer, I decided to zest the oranges and add it as both a hot side and cold side addition.

Freshly zested bitter orange.

Recipe Specifications:
Estimated O.G.: 1.062
Estimated F.G.: 1.011
Estimated ABV: 6.7%
Estimated IBU: 31
Estimated SRM: 4

Brewing Liquor:
100% Roman Tap Water treated with ~1 g Ca(OH)2 / gal brewing liquor, allowed precipitate to settle for 18 hours followed by decanting
1 g CaSO4 / gal finished beer

72.4% Pilsner Malt (Dingemans)
6.9% Flaked Rye
6.9% Flaked Spelt
6.9% Vienna Malt (Durst)
6.9% Corn Sugar (simple syrup added at high krausen)

0.08 oz. / gal finished beer Hallertau Magnum @ 60 min
0.13 oz. / gal finished beer Hallertau Mittelfruh @ 10 min
0.13 oz. / gal finished beer Bitter Orange Zest @ 0 min

1 pkg White Labs Belgian Saison 1 in a 1.5 L Starter - 3 days unstirred (separated 0.5 L for harvesting)

1.5 hrs @ 148 F (BIAB)


90 mins
1/2 tsp Irish Moss @ 10 mins
1/4 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient @ 10 mins

Cooled to ~65 F

Encouraged splashing from kettle to the fermenter

Pitched 1 L White Labs Belgian Saison I Starter
Open fermented for 3 days at ambient temperature (~70 F)
Added airlock after 3 days

Post-Primary Fermentation:
0.13 oz. / gal finished beer Bitter Orange Zest @ 1 day

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