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High-Citrus Saison

July 24, 2012

*Updated 8/12/12

Last summer, my friend Chris and I had agreed to get together over a collaborative brew this summer.  The trouble is – Chris lives in NJ and I’m in Buffalo.

The beer has existed in concept for quite a while, however I’d struggled with finding satisfaction in a final recipe.  After months of deliberating and tweaking, and finally finding a weekend that we’d both be able to meet up, we made this a reality last weekend.

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10:30 am mash-in.  Special thanks to the APES for the use of your Keggle.  Bout due time someone gets his own…

The recipe we eventually settled on begins as a fairly straightforward pilsner and wheat Saison, but with a heavy handed infusion of citrus.  This came in the form of three pounds of orange blossom honey and heaps of fresh citrus zest.  After about 30 minutes of trading off the microplane, we ended up with just shy of 2 ounces of grapefruit, orange and lemon zest – really a staggering amount.  I can’t believe we didn’t take a picture – just imagine a cereal bowl full of pungent zest (correction!  found a shitty iPhone pic!).

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Recipe after the jump

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Chris, adding the flameout zest.  

While there were discussions around using some wild yeast (brett C, lactobacillus were mentioned), we decided to keep it simple this time around and stuck with the highly aggressive and attenuative French Saison strain (wyeast 3711).

The warm weather should actually work in our favor with the 3711 yeast, which does well at higher than normal fermentation temperatures.  I expect this beer to be a dry, aromatic Saison with citrus dominating the nose and taste.

It turned out to be a great day with not just a top-notch brew going on, but some good company in my family, family friends the Wieses, the dogs and some awesome smoked chicken wings.

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The brew itself went as a leisurely pace, as none of us were in a rush and we were all clearly enjoying the day.  While I enjoy most of my brewdays pretty thoroughly, this was a one of the most fun.  Looking forward to getting back together with Chris in a few weeks to sample our creation.

If this recipe warrants a rebrew (I’m leaning towards yes at the moment), we’ll probably test some other fruits and split the batch to test the Brett C.  I can also see maybe incorporating some additional aroma hops, as well.

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oh grow up, it’s just sanitizer

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my better bottle, feeling a bit lonely

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Here is the recipe:

High-Citrus Saison
16-C Saison
Brewed: 7/21/12

Size: 10 gal
Efficiency: 75.0%
Attenuation: 90.0% (“measured”)
Original Gravity: 1.059 (measured)
Terminal Gravity: 1.004 (“measured”)

Color: 5.95 (5.0 – 14.0)
Alcohol: 7.00% (5.0% – 7.0%)
IBU: 21.5 (20.0 – 35.0)
ICU: 383

Ingredients:

  • 12.0 lb Superior Pilsen Malt
  • 5.0 lb White Wheat
  • 1.5 lb Caramel Malt 20L
  • 1.0 oz Cluster (7.0%) – added during boil, boiled 60 m
  • 1.0 oz Hallertauer Hersbrucker (4.5%) – added during boil, boiled 60 m
  • 3.0 lb Orange Blossom Honey – added during boil, boiled 15 m
  • 0.0 ea  3711 WYeast French Saison 3711
  • 1.0 ea Clementine zest – added during boil, boiled 1 m
  • 1.0 ea Orange zest – added during boil, boiled 1 m
  • 1.0 ea Grapefruit Zest – added during boil, boiled 1 m
  • 2.0 oz Citra™ (12.0%) – added dry to secondary fermenter
  • 2.0 ea Tangerine Zest – soaked in 1 oz vodka, added to secondary

Schedule:

  • Mash in – Liquor: 5.78 gal; Strike: 164.59 °F; Target: 152 °F
  • Batch sparge – Untitled Sparge: 7.5 gal sparge @ 168.0 °F, 15 m; Total Runoff: 11.36 gal

Notes:

  • Brewed 7/21 with Chris, in my parents’ garage.  Used the zest of (one each) grapefruit, navel orange, lemon.  Zested with microplane, total weight was 1.8 oz (54 g mass).  Added just before flameout.  Strong citrus aroma carried through chilling and racking.
  • OG measured at 1.059 – matching our estimate perfectly.  75% efficiency is a slight drop from a high of 80% a few months ago, but not cause for concern.
  • Chilled to 78F and transferred to two-6 gallon better bottles.  One went to NJ, the other stayed in Buffalo.
  • Buffalo portion fermenting at an ambient of 80F.  I wish I had A/C.
  • 8/5: transferred to sanitized secondary.  Added 1 oz Citra.
  • Zested one Tangerine, soaked zest in unflavored three olives vodka for ~5 hours in a glass jar.  Added contents to secondary.
  • Gravity estimated at 1.004 – hydrometer showing under 1.000
  • Bottled 8/12.  Stole a taste – very nice and citrusy.  I’m concerned this one may turn out to be a bit too fusel (hot) for my taste.  That could easily be attributed to the high amount of honey used, as well as the high fermentation temperature.  With the seasons changing soon, this, or at least its descendant will be brewed as the leaves begin to change.
  • Final notes: great saison.  Did not wind up being fusel, but rather the high fermentation temperature led to intense yeast flavors and aromas (pepper, citrus).  I will rebrew this beer, but will actually likely seek to lower the fermentation temp.  I found that it was so aggressive that it stripped out a lot of the citrus zest and dry hop character.  I know Chris’ half was fermented at a lower temp and had much more of those flavors.  Next time around, I think I’ll also age half with some Brettanomyces that I have from some commercial bottles.
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