Monday, July 22, 2013


Brew day 6/27/13

I am not in the habit of brewing beers using malt extract. In fact, of all of the batches I’ve made a grand total of 4 have not been all grain. The first two were the first two batches I ever made- an oak aged stout that came out wonderfully despite a long list of mishaps, and a Belgian pale ale that I didn’t like. I wasn’t keeping the blog up yet at that point so they have no write-ups. I also did  a sour brown with cherries this winter  that will be in bottles soon and is showing quite a bit of promise (write-up to come). The fourth was a recent Table Strength Saison that has me more convinced than ever of the merits of extract brewing if used for the appropriate beer. There’s just something about the using extract that seems “cheap” to me, but the more I get past the point of pride I’m realizing that it can be a great way to save A TON of time without sacrificing much—you just have to keep a few things in mind:

Don’t use extract if the sublty of the malt is something you want to showcase-- I brew a lot very simple recipes, and usually I rely on the subtle complexities of the base grains I pick to be the source of much of the malt character. For these beers, I think it is very important to stick with all grain as it provides the flexibility needed to really control the water profile, nuanced malt selection, and delicacies of FG and the body of the beer.

Don’t use extract if you are worried about a lower final gravity—Extract brewing takes away your control over the mash temp, which means you don’t know how dextrinous the wort will be. From what I’ve read (and my super limited experience of 2 clean batches) the maltsters make super dextrinous extract that will rarely get near a FG that even hints at being dry.

Don’t use extract if you want to use any un-malted grains that at don’t bring their own diastic power to the equation—we all know that adjunct can’t be steeped, so if you’re looking to use some corn for your Classic American Pilsner or some oats for your Dry Stout, mashing is the only option.

Otherwise, go for it! I reckon extract could make a great option for something like a porter or stout that has a long list of specialty grains that generally overpower any subtleties from the base grain… or maybe a super hoppy Pale where the whole beer is overwhelmed by icky-sticky aromatics anyhoo, or anything particularly yeast driven (given that the water treatment and finishing gravity restraints don’t get in the way) like a triple that is all about sugar and yeast. I’m also convinced that extract with steeping-grains is a pretty perfect solution for sour production as I think sours need a very neutral water profile and the high FGs are a sure way to make sure that the brett and bacteria in mixed cultures have plenty of wort to funkify during secondary fermentation.

So where does this Strawberry Saison fit in? The all grain recipe I wrote was pilsner malt only with some table sugar and was so low gravity that I had no reservations about it not finishing dry enough (not to mention Saison yeast will generally chew through very dextrinous wort with ease), and I was looking for all of the character in the beer to come from the esters and phenols from the yeast and the addition of 8lbs of whole strawberries. So I converted it to useing Pils extract, and it was sooo nice and easy.

Pilsner Liquid malt extract (100% pils) and sugar for a traditionally dry and neutral malt presence, soft water to keep the malt and hops in the background, the Dupont yeast strain and leftover brett bugs living in my dedicated brett bucket for that wonderful earthy/ spicy/ fruity blend of black pepper/ pear skins/ and flinty lemon notes, SUPER low gravity because I want to session the hell out of this one, and 8lbs of frozen strawberries because I think they will be just the thing to pair with the expressive Dupont yeast.

The Recipe (6 Gallons into fermenter):

5lbs Pilsner Liquid Malt Extract~ 87%
.75lb Table Sugar~ 13%

8lbs Whole Frozen Strawberries into Fermenter at k/o

2oz Hallertauer (aa 5.4) @ 30min Boil
2oz Perle @ k/o for 20 min steep between 180F and 120F

Oakland tap water untreated for calculated Ca: 5 ppm and SO4: 7 ppm. Calc Mash PH 5.5 ** hoping that the yeast nutrient and long boil process used to froduce LME will provide the extra calcium needed for the yeas health**

LME and Sugar added to 6.5 gal boiling water for 30min boil.

1 whirlfloc and dose of WY yeast nutrient at k/o

WY3724 DuPont Strain

OG: 1.034
FG: 1.004= 4% ABV
Calc SRM: pink ;)
Calc IBUs: 25 avg

6/27- Pitched 1L slurry of WY3724 @ 69F and left in Miguel’s Basement for ambient in the mid to high 70s.

7/8- checked SG @ 1.008

7/16- Miguell found the bucket leaking!! He quickly transfered the remaining 4.5gal to a different bucket.

8/18- Bottled for 2.6 vol CO2 into champagne bottles. Quite a gnarly pelicle on top and the samples taste awesome. Unfourtunately the brett has overtaken the strawberrys in the nose, but the taste is subltly and sublimely earthy and berry kisse. FG@1.004