Posts Tagged ‘saison’

phantom carriage: barreling batch 4 and brewing batch 5

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013


over the past week a lot has been happening over at the phantom carriage.

  • first, a full batch of brett saison (french saison yeast with a brett trois/drie kicker in primary) crept below 1.01 in the conicals, so it was time to rack it into barrels.  the brett accentuated the saison yeast nicely and gave it a nice earthy tropical fruit kick.  hopefully three months in barrels will round out the beer even more (I got some baking spice, vanilla, and sweet vinous notes from the barrels as they were being filled).  I can also see some dry-hopping in the cards…
  • next, it was time to fill the void left by the saison with another wild creation.  this time, 14bbls of blonde ale based on my all-brett blonde experiment hit the stainless and was introduced to a sizable pitch of the brett trois strain (which I selected from the three trial strains due to its great aroma and flavor contributions as well as its strong and relatively rapid fermentation).  this batch was special – it will be the phantom carriage’s first release!  more info is imminent, so keep an eye out for updates!

trying out the sparge arm               churning away

the stack keeps growing...

dark house II bottling/kegging/racking

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

slurry and friends

seven months had passed since I pitched my house slurry into my dark saison wort, so I broke out my autosiphon, a keg, and some bottles and got busy.

  • the beer finished at 1.005 (6.5 brix) for a final ABV reading of 7.07%.  my gravity sample had an assertive, rich fruit aroma and a smoother sourness than what I remembered from my first dark saison batch.
  • in addition to kegging five gallons and bottling close to five more, I also racked around 2.5 gallons onto 2lb., 2 oz of frozen persimmons from my earlier harvest in celebration of my last last “sour” saison for the forseeable future (although I did save the slurry, so you never know…).  after six months the fruited batch will be bottled, and we’ll see how the delicate persimmon notes add to the total package here (or if they can stand up to the already prominent fruit presence in the beer).

racking               the source



rye amber ale three ways, blonde tasting

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

last weekend I decided to rehash my all-brett amber ale with a couple of variations.

  • first, I decided to spice up the mash with the addition of 20% malted rye.  I also went with some spicy/earthy hop additions late in the boil to impart those aromatics into the finished product (12 gal, 80% efficiency):
    • 14 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 58.1 %
      5 lbs Rye Malt (4.7 SRM) Grain 2 20.7 %
      2 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt – 80L (80.0 SRM) Grain 3 8.3 %
      2 lbs Munich Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 4 8.3 %
      1 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM) Grain 5 4.1 %
      1.6 oz Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 6 0.4 %
      2.00 oz Palisade [8.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 7 22.2 IBUs
      2.00 oz Palisade [7.50 %] – Boil 15.0 min Hop 8 10.3 IBUs
      4.00 oz Williamette [5.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min Hop 9 0.0 IBUs
      2.00 oz Tradition [6.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min Hop 10 0.0 IBUs
  • I mashed in at 154F and had a post-boil OG of 13 brix (1.053 – I blame my extensive use of rice hulls for the loss of a couple of gravity points).  Once the wort was chilled to 71F, I oxygenated by shaking the fermentors (my oxygenation stone is all gummed up at the moment) and fermented the wort three ways – 5 gals with a stepped up vial of WLP566, another 5 with a stepped up vial of WLP650, and another 2 with a blend of both yeasts (I transferred some wort from each fermentor once they both reached high krausen).  although both yeast vials had been sitting in my fridge for quite some time, they took off without any hesitation on the stirplate and had the wort going within ten hours.

during the mash I used some down time to taste the three all-brett versions of the blonde I bottled a week ago.

  • I’ll save an in-depth review for a couple more weeks to let each of the beers fully develop, but after just one week I was excited to find that the WLP644 trois strain had carbed up nicely and left a dense white head in the glass upon pouring.  its overripe, earthy guava aroma and flavor really impressed me, especially for a brett beer just under a month old.  I’m really happy with this strain and am looking forward to using it a lot more in the future (maybe in a citrus-hopped pale or IPA?).



homegrown saison

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

with local temps hitting the low 90s, I knew there was only one style I could safely ferment without using a fermentation fridge – saison.

  • although I currently brew a house saison twice a year, that project turned sour quite some time ago, and I was in the mood for a relatively lower gravity beer that showcased local produce from my own backyard (and that I could server to friends who had not yet become accustomed to wild/sour beers).  as a result, I threw together a variation of a classic saison with some sweet orange zest from my backyard valencia orange tree and a homegrown vojvodina hop addition:
    • 18 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) Bel (3.0 SRM) Grain 1 81.8 %
      1 lbs 8.0 oz Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 2 6.8 %
      1 lbs Munich Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 3 4.5 %
      8.0 oz Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM) Grain 4 2.3 %
      1 lbs Candi Sugar, Clear (0.5 SRM) Sugar 5 4.5 %
      4.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] – Boil 75.0 min Hop 6 29.8 IBUs
      1.80 oz Orange Peel, Sweet (Boil 5.0 mins) Spice 7
      2.00 oz Saaz [4.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min Hop 8 0.0 IBUs
  • I mashed at 147F and added a small orange’s worth of zest at flame out.  I guess the use of valencia oranges is apropos in a summer saison, since as it turns out valencias are the only orange variety in season during the summer.  I should note that a little zest goes a long way here – less than a tablespoon’s worth of zest was enough to create a pleasing but subtle orange aroma in 12 gallons of wort.
  • I also added to the wort 2.75 oz of last year’s homegrown vojvodinas, which are a hybrid of northern brewer, golding, and a wild yugoslavian hop.  the vojvodinas added some depth and variety to the herbal/spicy saaz hops I also added after the boil.  I also added a pinch of fresh ground pepper to the boil after reading about it a while back over at the mad fermentationist.
  • I hit a starting gravity of 1.058 and added a starter of wyeast 3726 pc farmhouse when the wort cooled to 89F.  you read that right – after reading some illuminating articles and forum posts, I decided to pitch at just under 90F to get the most out of this strain.  fermentation was visible overnight and is still chugging along (despite a surprising lack of krausen/blowoff).  after a month I’m planning on kegging and bottling seven gallons and racking the other five into secondary with some brett b for the long haul.




averting brew day disaster, feb PG meeting

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

last thursday I headed back to culver city homebrew for my second monthly pacific gravity meeting.

  • belgian and french ales were the style of the month, and both local and international varieties were popped open to try out.  surprisingly, my favorite commercial brew of the night was ommegang’s hennepin, a beer I often overlook but was pleasantly surprised by its effervescence and drinkability.
  • I also brought along a keg of my winter house saison, and was stoked to see that it had won homebrew keg of the month by the end of the meeting!  it was very validating to see fellow club members appreciate the beer as much as I did.
  • I also started a flickr page for my pics of PG meetings and events – those interested can check it out HERE.

on saturday I fired up my keggles and embarked on what I thought was going to be a simple, straightforward brewday.

  • the plan was to put together a simple kolsch (recipe for 12 gals, 80% efficiency):
    • 15 lbs Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 73.2 %
      5 lbs 8.0 oz Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 2 26.8 %
      2.00 oz Pearle [8.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 3 26.5 IBUs
      1.00 oz Tettnang [4.50 %] – Boil 15.0 min Hop 4 3.7 IBUs
      1.00 oz Tettnang [4.50 %] – Boil 5.0 min Hop 5 1.5 IBUs
  • after mashing in at 152F, things started to fall apart.  noticing that my plate chiller wasn’t cooling as well as it had during earlier batches, I decided to disassemble it and take a look.  what I found blew my mind – despite backflushing and thoroughly rinsing my chiller after each use, nasty gunk was caked inside the chiller and fittings (likely a result of a couple sessions of chilling wort without filtering pellet hops).  I immediately soaked the chiller in PBW and power flushed it with scalding hot water numerous times, then filled and boiled the chiller on the stove, soaked it again, and flushed it an umpteenth time.  I can’t believe I had dodged infection for so long!
  • with my paranoia kicked up to a frenzy, I turned to my march pump and attempted to remove the fittings so that they too could receive a thorough cleaning.  in the process, I managed to crack off all but a single thread on the pump’s output port.  since I still needed to both sparge and chill my wort, pump failure was definitely not a favorable turn of events.  luckily, with a little thread wrap and a delicate touch, I managed to bootleg the pump operation just long enough to get both jobs done.  now I just have to choose between a plastic or stainless replacement pump head
  • to top it off, my kolsch slurry didn’t take off, and after three days with no activity, my kolsch became a saison with the addition of WLP568 and wyeast 3724.  when it rains, it pours…



amber kegging, brewing with basil

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

this last week’s brewing activities included some of the old and a little of the new.

  • last weekend I managed to keg and bottle AP’s amber ale.  the beer finished at 1.014 for an approximate abv of 5.4%.  I stashed some of the s-04 slurry in one of  a bunch of autoclavable bottles I scored through homebrewfinds, one of my new favorite blogs.  these inexpensive bottles are easy to clean and are perfect for yeast storage.
  • while I was kegging the amber, I ran through some ideas for an upcoming local “homegrown” saison.  I already had local hops and yeast, but needed something to distinguish my saison and give it a truly unique character.
  • inspiration came while deadheading my basil to keep it from going to seed.  when I smelled the fistful of blooms in my hand, their pungent spiciness let me to immediately vacuum seal them for future use.  after a little research, I confirmed that not only are the blooms used in everyday cooking, but basil has been experimented with in various homebrews with great success.
  • as a result, the ingredient lineup for my homegrown saison now includes homegrown heirloom basil blooms and some orange zest from our backyard tree (and maybe some local honey), all of which will likely be added at flame-out.  now I just need to fit in a brew day…


saison session 2011

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

motivated by the success of overcarbed’s last two strong beer sessions, and in celebration of two years of successful brew blogging, the first annual saison session was celebrated last weekend.


beer critiques and recipe modifications

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only brewer out there who is a little biased while reviewing the fruits of their labor.

  • after spending hours milling, mashing, sparging, boiling, and cooling, results that taste anything close to beer are most likely celebrated.  in addition, friends and family who enjoy the fruits of the homebrewer’s labor may be reluctant to offer even the slightest criticism, as a result of politeness or perhaps a desire to maintain a steady stream of homemade libations.
  • however, constructive criticism resulting from accurate observations of a beer’s characteristics can only help to improve future incarnations of such beer.  even casual drinkers unfamiliar with the BJCP style guidelines can help by summarizing significant elements they observe in a neutral manner (e.g., “I smell a lot of grass and flowers,” “this beer tastes like bread,” “it smells like a dirty diaper,” etc.)
  • in my case, I was able to review some valuable criticism when I got my OC fair beer comp scoresheets back in the mail.  the reviews ran the gamut – some were written by BJCP certified judges, some by fellow homebrewers; some were thorough and offered suggestions, while others were painfully sparse and overly general (and frankly worthless).  scores ranged from a 9 (saison) to a 35 (golden strong).
  • reading these score sheets opened my eyes to some overlooked “defects” in my beers and prompted me to impartially review my current draft lineup.  in the interests of progress, I also made note of some potential modifications that could be used to overcome identified undesirables.


nightmare stout


dry irish stout


light coffee nose, thin body, slight tang in finish, poor head retention


mash higher for more malt/body, use a bigger starter, use 2-row instead of pils, longer boil




trappist weisse


belgian wit


dry finish, “delicate” floral/spice aroma


mash higher, higher fermentation temp for more phenols, use different yeast (german hef or belgian wit instead of trappist strain)




simple cider


dry apple cider


dry champagne nose, tart apple flavor with tart, dry finish, very champagne like


experiment with other yeast strains that are less dominant/highlight the apples more and don’t attenuate as much (beer strains, etc.)




house saison


saison/belgian specialty ale/sour ale


fruity/sour aroma, clean barnyard funk with smooth sourness, slight oxidation

modifications:enter in a more relevant judging category(even though fantome is an example of the BJCP saison category)/explain beer in notes, higher initial fermentation temps and more dregs earlier during fermentation, purge carboy with CO2 when adding dregs



  • hopefully objective tasting sessions like these will lead to an improved experience for everyone involved, even if I don’t brew with competitions specifically in mind.  constructive criticism shouldn’t hurt any brewer’s feelings!

weissbier, apricots, and a funk/sour tasting lineup

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

last week JF and I got around to kegging my trappist weiss.

  • due to an unfortunate slip-up (literally) during the brew, I was unable to grab the starting gravity of the brew, but the end result has the characteristic cloudiness and fruity/banana aroma of a classic weissbier.  it will be interesting to see what dimensions the trappist yeast strain adds to the mix.

additionally, after expressing interest in DP and PP’s apricot tree, they agreed to let me harvest some of this year’s crop for brewing purposes.

  • fifteen minutes and a six-foot ladder netted my a few pounds of ripe apricots that I vacuum-sealed froze for future use.  hopefully I can work them into one of my sours (maybe by brewing a few extra gallons of a low-gravity blonde and racking it on top of them in a three-gallon better bottle?)

also, CB took a trip down from SF this weekend, and brought some goodies along to share.

  • we tried his 100% brett brew, along with his saison bottled with white labs sour mix I and his two-year old flanders.  the brett ale was slightly tart, remarkably clean, and sessionable, while the saison was spicy with some earthy funk and some fruit on the nose (it was interesting to compare it to my version, which had pretty much the same malt bill but had bugs added much earlier).
  • the flanders was truly wild – our guess was wild yeast included with a homegrown cherry addition took over and dominated secondary fermentation.  the beer tasted and smelled strongly of roses/blossoming flowers, and completely dominated a jar of starter wort that we had been pitching dregs into (including heavy hitters like framboise de amorosa, upright’s six, and cigar city’s sea bass (which was my favorite of the night)).  thanks again for the tasty brews CB!

bottle waxing, etc.

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

last friday I stopped by san pedro brew co. to swap some beers and check out JW’s latest lineup.

  • I dropped off my house IPA and wild patersbier and sampled a red and brown ale, as well as a killer german pils.  JW was busy cranking out a black IPA, and I watched as he weighed out pounds of hops for the boil additions.  can’t wait to try that one.

over the weekend I also sampled a bottle of my saison, and was pleased to discover that the beer was sufficiently carbonated (not to mention complex and delicious).

  • to celebrate, I decided to wax dip the bottles.  I had done some research on inexpensive bottle wax and came to the conclusion that polymer “wax” was the way to go.  I picked up a few pounds of polymer wax on clearance and also grabbed a bag of wax from the local homebrew store.
  • in the spirit of summer, I went with green wax for the saison.  I heated up the wax over the stove in a recycled can and held the bottles in the wax for five seconds apiece for a lighter dip that wouldn’t have to be cut off before using an opener.  you can double dip for results similar to bottles from deschutes, etc.
  • a few tips: use a disposable stick to stir the wax as it heats, and place the waxed bottles on newspaper to avoid drips sticking to the counter top.  I also noticed that the wax retained heat for a while after cutting the range off (such that I could dip quite a few bottles before applying more heat).
  • I used less than a quarter of the one-pound bag and dipped 24 bottles, with plenty of wax left over (the green wax cost me $11-12/lb).  for me, dipping bottles is a great way to produce a more upscale product without having to resort to more costly methods such as corking in belgian bottles.