Belgian Witbier Yeast

Ever gone to the brew shop with a firm plan in place; then all the ‘other’ stuff in stock distracts you into dreaming of other brews? I know its happened to me plenty of times. Well this time the brewers daydream effect got to John while shopping online for his next Belgian witbier.

John wanted to brew a Witbier with WY3944 but he checked out with WY3942 Belgian Wheat! Rather than simply be bummed we decided to turn this into a second chance to bottle culture yeast! (Lets forget my sour beer Oud Bruin attempt to culture that up.)

So our plan is to pick three or so of our favorite Belgian Witbiers, make a batch of starter wort and then drink some beers and pitch some dregs. Hopefully, we’ll stay clean this time and then we’ll get a decent Belgian Witbier Yeast strain for John’s beer.

The key will be to stay clean and get a good start with that initial culture. Get it to take off and the wort should be safe from being over run by mold or bacteria. We also have seen debate online about which Witbiers are likely to be pasteurized and which are not. Hopefully, we’ll see it first hand in the starter cultures.

Any comments or suggestion for how we should get started?
What’s your favorite Witbier on the market?
Leave a comment below or on our YouTube page.

Lawnmower de Saison Kit Brew Day

Summer brewing has begun and although it has taken until the end of July to kick it off, the brew day went smoothly so any fear of being rusty were unfounded.

To help me ease back into it, I bought a kit from Midwest Supplies. We did a review of one last year and the beer I brewed from it won an award in competition.

The kit was shipped to me unmilled and all the grains came mixed together in one big bag. The trade off of not being able to know for sure the measurements for each of the grains was the ease in which one bag’s contents can be poured into the top of the mill’s hopper.

I had a hankering for a saison but I didn’t feel like thinking about putting an ingredient list together. Buying the kit saved me time in that respect and shopping online. I clicked on one button and the whole thing was in my cart.

The recipe had 3 different grains, 3 hop additions, and some special ingredients like bitter orange peel, grains of paradise, whole coriander, and Belgium candi sugar.

I almost didn’t add the spices, but then I decided I was all in on the recipe. I thought to myself that if I was going to brew it, I might as well brew it as it was intended.

The only variation was the yeast choice. I went with the dry strain (Lallemand Belle Saison) since Mike had luck with it last year, which I don’t think was one of the choices when I bought the kit. With two packets and proofing it as instructed on the packet, I felt like I had a good plan for the fermentation.

The yeast took off pretty quickly. I started seeing signs of fermentation after just 3 hours after I pitched.

The only thing that didn’t measure up was the starting gravity. The beer is supposed to be a lawnmower version of a saison but my gravity reading was at 1.060 when I racked the wort to the Better Bottle. I thought the kit’s target range was 1.052-1.055, but I looked online and it tops out at 1.059. Meh, I think it will be ok.

Saison Kit Brew Day

Brew On!

Mixed Berry Mead Tasting

We take mead to the next level with this mixed berry mead. Making mead is fairly straightforward and easy once the basic techniques are mastered. Despite the simplicity in process, the flavor profiles achievable can be tremendous and complex. John’s mixed berry mead is is just that. Rivaling some of the better red wines I have had.

John employ the staggered nutrient addition method of mead making. This technique focuses on supplementing the yeast with nutrients otherwise not found in the mead must. Doing it this way produces a fermentation character from a very healthy yeast population. As we know and appreciate from beer brewing fermentation is everything. In mead making, helping the yeast along with the nutrients creates a cleaner more complete fermentation profile in a shorter period of time. This also means that the mead does not need to age for 12 months or more to really shine.

In this example, the mead was fermented with 10 pounds of mixed frozen berries. Along side a healthy dose of freshly harvested blackberries. The complexity of the fruit flavors in this mead recipe is amazing. It is jammy and full of dark fruit character. The acidity is well balanced against that fruit character. Notes of strawberry are in the background, but it really helps to support the fuller flavors of the raspberries and the blackberries.

The addition of oak is also subtle but provided a tannin like quality that makes the mead seem very red wine like. The oak works really well to help balance the fruity nature of the berries. The base mead is still very dry however. The acidity, fruit flavor and oak make the mead very complex while that dryness makes it very very drinkable.

Have you tried mead making yet?
Do you use fruits and or staggered nutrient additions?
We want to hear about it in the comment section!


Wedding Mead Bentonite Results

I think the heading of this post should have a question mark at the end of it, or maybe have the word results in quotation marks.

What would you think if you had experimented with a certain clarifying agent and had had dramatic results as a conclusion of that experiment but when you followed the same procedure again, you were underwhelmed with the outcome?

If you’re like me, you keep on trucking.  That’s all you can do.  The other thing about being me is that you have to blog about it.

So I had scheduled a week for the clarification process.  I added the bentonite to the secondary vessels and waited 7 days for the clay to do its thing.

After a week, I didn’t see much difference.  Take a look at this photo album of the mead depicting different periods of time during the bentonite process.

At the far left, the mead was put in the fridge to chill down before the bentonite was added.  The middle picture shows you what it looked like a week later.  If you look really closely, maybe it looks clearer?  The color is a little different but it still has a haze to it.  The photo to the far right is the mead after a racking and the oak spirals floating at the top.  You can see that the third vessel is a better bottle.  The volume of mead has been reduced a bit.  I probably left around a half gallon in the second vessel along with the yeast and the clay.

The mead now gets to sit and condition with oak for six weeks.  I am confident that during that time, the mead will clear up even more and will be looking beautiful by the bottling day.  We’re planning to bottle it on Saturday, August 30th and that is plenty of time for the rest of the haze causing particles to settle out.

I guess my biggest disappointment was the lack of a tremendous, overwhelming reveal after the bentonite phase.  Boo Hoo.

It’s clearer – you just aren’t blown away by it.  At least I am not.

Mead On.

Kohatu Hops

If you are researching new hop varieties like me, you have come to the right place.  For the past seven years, I have been writing up hop profiles for all the varieties that interest me.

Mostly, I was unhappy with the descriptions I found online and offline.   They were short, vague, and redundant across different websites.

What I try to do is to collect as much information as I can and present as much as a well-rounded profile post as I can.

I like the new hops that have been released lately, especially the ones that are influenced by the American craft beer movement over the past 20 years.

The hops of Australia and New Zealand have most of my attention lately.  There is a large collection of these hops in my basement fridge currently and I do have plans for a Down Under IPA.  This variety is another one that is worth a full investigation.  Here is my profile of Kohatu hops.

One of the things I did find out is that these hops have Hallertauer Mittelfrüeh as a parent. I think this fact plays into a few factors with the hops’ potency.

Read more about the details of Kohatu hops:

Origin:  Named after a tiny village south of the hop-growing region of Nelson in New Zealand (not to be confused with the village of the same name in Estonia).  It also  may take its name from the Maori word meaning stone or rock. They were bred in New Zealand  and were released commercially in 2011.  They are a product of the NZ hop breeding programme.

Aroma/Flavor: Pineapple is the leading descriptor mentioned in all the sources that I read.  One went so far to state “sweaty pineapple pants”.  Pine needles, lime, and classic Hawaiian Punch flavors.

Alpha Acid: 6.0 – 6.8%

Typical Usage: With the low alpha acids, Kohatu hops are an flavor or aroma hop, added later in the boil.  The sources I read concluded that they were not as strong as the other Southern Hemisphere hops so using lots of them in your beer would not be a bad thing.

Beer Styles: Any beer that you want to showcase fruity, tropical flavors.

So the Hallertauer hop parent makes me think that this variety is a little more refined and subtle than the other Down Under hops like Nelson Sauvin or Motueka.  Kohatu may be hops to purchase if you are looking for something to try out but you are not ready for the over the top flavors of the other AU or NZ hops.