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Four Grain American Farmhouse Ale

July 6, 2013
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Wonderful on a humid summer day

It seems the Saison or Farmhouse Ale has become in vogue.  Just about every brewery and homebrewer is producing their own take.

Unfortunately, in my experience, most commercially available examples aren’t particularly interesting.  Despite its light color and (usually) low gravity, a Saison should have a subtle complexity.  Accessible to most drinkers, but interesting for those more pensive towards their beverages.

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Historically, a Farmhouse Ale would have been made from whatever the farm brewer had available to them.  In homage to that, I created a rustic farmhouse ale incorporating four different grains.  Five, if you consider pilsen and vienna [both barley’s] different.

Utilizing other ingredients that I had on hand – american and new zealand hops, second generation belgian saison yeast – I came up with a modern, urbanized version of the farmhouse classic.

This beer should be dry and well carbonated, straw-colored with a subtle malt complexity and grassy, citrusy hops.  A spicy/peppery belgian yeast character should be the highlight.  Just right for warm summer days and un-air-conditioned city apartments.

Here’s the recipe:

Four Grain American Farmhouse Ale
Brewed 5/27/13
Size: 5.5 gallons

Efficiency: 79%
Attenuation: 80%
Original Gravity: 1.048
Terminal Gravity: 1.010

Color: 2.63
Alcohol: 5.03
IBU: 30.5

Water (all in ppm):

Ca: 77 Mg: 15 Na: 19 SO₄: 91 Cl: 28 HCO₃: 177

Ingredients:

  • 7 lb Pilsen Malt
  • 1 lb Red Wheat Malt
  • 1 lb Vienna Malt
  • 0.5 lb Flaked Oats
  • 0.25 lb Rye Malt
  • 1.33 oz Cascade (6.7%) – Boiled 60 minutes
  • 2 oz Motueka (7%) – Whirlpool
  • WY3724 – Belgian Saison (DuPont) – second generation slurry

Schedule:

  • Mash @ 150
  • Mash out @ 175
  • Batch sparge – water alkalinity adjusted

Listening

  • Portugal. the Man – Evil Friends

Notes

  • 5/27: Brewed on Memorial Day, by myself.  Everything went well – hit mash temp, pH.  Collected plenty of wort and boiled off meeting my targeted OG and volume.  Chilled to 80, pitched yeast and left at ambient of 75 to ferment.
  • 5/28: Outdoor temp has unexpectedly dropped below 60 bringing my ambient with it.  Placed a space heater next to the fermenter, but concerned that I won’t get the peppery phenolics from the yeast.  Time will tell.
  • 6/18: finally reached attenuation to 1.010.  Racked into CO2-purged keg and sealed.  Left at ambient to condition and wait until a spot opens up.
  • 7/1: Got sick of my Citra IPA.  Gave away growlers of the rest and put this beer in to chill overnight.
  • 7/2: Set to 30 psi for 36 hours.  Bled off excess, pressurized to 10 psi.  Not quite enough carbonation.  Set to 20 psi for another 12 hours.  Checked in morning – looks good.
  • 7/3: drinking.  Tasty.  Tasting notes to follow.
  • Final verdict: This is a really nice beer.  Almost everything is as it should be – crisp, dry, interesting with lots of little nuanced flavors to ponder.  The only issue I have is, as I suspected, the drop in temperature resulted in a less than perfect yeast character.  The citrusy esters are there, but there just isn’t enough of the peppery phenolic note to really take this to the next level.  Fortunately it’s a fairly simple fix and next time around, I’ll nail it.  Regardless, a very tasty brew that has been popular amongst my friends – beer geeks and otherwise.
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6 Comments
  1. Martin permalink

    Thanks for recipes!! You gave me a lot of ideas!! Cheers from Argentina!!

    • pjdunn permalink

      Thanks Martin, glad you like what I’m doing!

  2. Thanks for visiting my blog PJ. This looks very nice. It’s been a few months since I brewed and it is definitely time. This might be my next batch even though I rarely brew all-grain.

  3. pjdunn permalink

    Sure thing! I stumbled across it while reading up on some BBQ related stuff (Fergus Henderson’s Beans and Bacon). I’ve only had the chance to read a little bit, but will be back for more! Let me know if you decide to brew this, I’d be glad to answer any questions you might have.

  4. Thanks PJ. I’ll plug your recipe into my Brew app to keep track of it and it is certainly on my next to do. In Houston, TX I have no issue maintaining the warmer temp in my guest bedroom bath tub – where my fermenter usually goes 🙂 . We’ll also keep having warm weather through October at least, so this will be great drinking.

  5. It’s been a while, but I finally brewed this one! My only hiccup is the OG which was closer to 1.030 and I had no LME to bring it up. Looking forward to tasting it.

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