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!

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.

BIAB Series – SMaSH Beers for Hops Learnings

Keeping up with plans for the Brew In A Bag series (BIAB), here is the rundown of the single malt and single hop (SMaSH) experiments that I have planned for the summer.

There has been one idea in the works for a few months but with the BIAB series, we need to add a few more varieties to the mix to lengthen the series and add to the fun.

The hops that will be a part of the series are as follows:

The Mosaic hops have their own SMaSH recipe so they will be the first ones to be brewed. The Equinox hops have been purchased and will probably follow the procedure as the Mosaic recipe. El Dorado hops need to be purchased, which should be done soon.

As I look over the SMaSH recipe for the Mosaic hops, it was built for 5 gallons. The leading thought for the BIAB series was brew small batches. I think these experiments would be good for 2 gallon boils/1 gallon beers. That way, we could brew them all on the same day, ferment them during the same time periods, and taste them for the same video in a few months. That would be pretty cool.

I will have to take out the calculator and figure out how to reduce the recipe from 5 gallons to 1. After I am done, I should put up an update – probably for the brew day post. The session could be worthy of an event.

Maybe we can set these brews for a homebrewing club meeting?

All of these hops are pretty new and are fairly hyped. To brew them all in the series would be a great way to really know from my own perspective how all of these hops taste.

The Red Wheat vs. White Wheat experiment is first in the series but soon after will be the brews for hops learnings.

Brew on.

Phase 2 Of The Wedding Mead Project

120 bottles got delivered to my house and things just got real. Has that ever happened to you?

120 bottles in boxes

Phase 2 of the Wedding Mead project have kicked in now that I have to find a place to keep all of these 375 milliliter bottles until we are ready to use them.

The bottles are clear so the mead will need to be clear. Since this is a simple oaked dry mead, it should appear golden yellow with brilliant clarity. At least, that is my opinion and I won’t be happy unless it looks like that.

Bottles for Wedding Mead

Some of the point of doing this project is to put myself to the test to see if I can make something spectacular with no margin of error. When I brew beer, normally I am the only one who is going to judge it.

If something goes wrong or it’s not quite to the excellent level that I was trying to achieve, I don’t lose sleep over it.

This mead is going to be given away as favors at a wedding so it has to be flawless It’s nice to have some pressure. You need to raise your game at times.

Since I ran an experiment a while ago to figure out if bentonite was a good mead clarifier, I know that I can use it to get rid of all the haziness and make all those proteins and yeast drop out.

Bentonite for wedding mead

With a shot of bentonite, some time, and another racking, we’ll be good to go in terms of the clarity. Then, it will be time to add the oak. I bought some French, double the price of American, medium toast oak spirals to lend their flavor to it. The last oaked mead I made (I almost typed “mead I meaded” – could we make that a thing?) was great. If you handed it to someone and told them it was white wine, they wouldn’t know it was made with honey and not grapes.

French Oak Spirals for Wedding Mead

Is that the point? Should mead taste like honey wine and not like grape wine? Well, sure… and I’d tell you I taste plenty of honey flavors in grape wine too.

Anyway – that’s the latest update. I will put up some photos on Twitter and/or Facebook to show how well the bentonite clarifies mead.

See the related posts to the wedding mead project here:

The First Wedding Mead Update

The Making of the Wedding Mead

BIAB Series – Red Vs. White Wheat

As discussed in this video post about understanding the difference between red and white wheat and our plans for brewing in a bag (BIAB), I started to make a plan to brew small quantities of beer to compare and contrast red wheat malt and white wheat malt.

There are a few different experiments that we would like to do between now and the end of the summer so this post is the start of the BIAB series where we use this method to brew a good number of beers over the next few months.

Using BeerTools, I was able to scale the amounts of grain to make 1 gallon recipes. Since I have a small pot, I can brew up that amount of volume pretty easily and hopefully fairly quickly following the BIAB method.

So, these recipes are very simple, following the single malt and single hop (SMaSH) convention which should help these Brew Dudes to learn about both wheat malt types.

Here are the details:

Mash volume/boil volume: 2 gallons
Batch size: 1 gallon

Ingredients:

2 pounds of wheat malt
.25 oz of Willamette hops
Yeast: White Labs WLP001 California Ale

Instructions:

Pick one of the wheat malts.

Mash it in a muslin bag in a pot big enough to hold 2 gallons of wort for 1 hour at 149 degrees F.
Remove bag and drain well. Add hops and boil for 60 minutes. Cool wort to 72 degress F and transfer it to a gallon bottles. Ferment at this temperature for 2 weeks. Transfer to a bottling bucket and prime using a calculator so you know how much sugar you need for a gallon of beer.

Choose the other wheat malt and follow the above instructions.

Predictions:

BeerTools gave me different results for white wheat malt vs. red wheat malt. Here’s the average between the two recipes.

Original Gravity: 1.054
Terminal Gravity: 1.012
Color: 5 °SRM 3.00 – 6.00 °SRM 87 %
Bitterness: 25 IBUs
Alcohol % of volume: 5.5%

One interesting thing from the tool calculating these recipes was that the red wheat malt would make a beer with a darker color than the white wheat malt beer. We’re talking about the difference of a few degrees SRM but it will be something I will report on when the experiment is over.

Feel free to follow along. I will be ordering the ingredients this week.