A three-headed Saison Part 2: Tasting the beers

redhotjuly4 Tis the Saison… or it was, has been? Hard to say really. It seems like July/August were years ago somehow as winter takes a firm hold on seemingly the entire US. Ah, but still the summer brew ages on… This is a follow-up to A three-headed Saison: July, August & Red Hot and Hoppy with Mirasol chiles and quite a bit past-due. As you may recall, I brewed an over-hopped Saison that I finished three different ways. Mother nature toyed with me, turning a hot August cool after only 14 days of primary fermentation. I’ve done everything short of building a warm water bath for these bottles and still they stubbornly trod towards completion, oblivious, following their own tedious pace. Along the way I have tried each several times and think now is as good a time as any to review them and give my two cents on the pros and cons of Belgian yeasts.

July: Bottle conditioned with only the original yeast – As I mentioned above, the late Summer temperatures fell far short of normal and I hadn’t arranged for any artificially controlled environment. My first tasting was just over 3 weeks into bottling. Very very green. The tastes and smells of green apples were dominant, indicative of unprocessed Acetaldehyde. This is a naturally occurring by-product of fermentation that is normally consumed as the beer ages and reaches maturity. This clearly was not going to be anytime soon. As weeks and months went by I began sampling this beer less frequently, in the hopes that I would have some left by the time it was really ready for tasting. To date it’s been over five months and still it’s not quite there. It does improve, however, so I’m confident it may just be a matter of patience.

Red Hot July: Bottle conditioned with only the original yeast. To each bottle I added one sliced and quartered Mirasol chile pepper – This beer is absolutely delicious. How? Why? Because the heat completely hides the lack of maturity of the brew. This pepper and the quantity added lends just enough heat and pepper flavor that in all honestly most of the beer flavors are lost. There are a fair number of commercial breweries putting out spicy beers, but often as was true early in the IPA IBU race, the Scoville scale score bragging rights outshine the point of making a drinkable and enjoyable brew. If you try this at home, keep in mind that heat fades over time and consider bottle conditioning with peppers to follow a similar time-table to dry-hopping and drinking an IPA. 3-5 days exposure to the peppers is minimal. In fact I prefer adding the peppers at bottling, although this gives you much less control over the level of heat imparted. In either case, if the beer initially seems too spicy let it age a couple of weeks and try it again.

August: Bottle conditioned with an additional strain of Belgian yeast known to be far more temperature tolerant – The best laid plans… This really should have improved/hastened the aging of an unfortunately off-season brew. It did not. In fact as I followed a regimen of tasting July and August together, I found this brew to follow the same painfully slow pace and in fact to be further tarnished by a very complex yeast flavoring. Bah…

As a lover of all things IPA it was unlikely that I’d be overly fond of these Belgian style home brews. Despite being known as lighter in both malt and hops, less bitter and characteristically flavored by the brewer’s choice of yeast(s), rather than take the summer off from brewing I decided to give these warm-weather yeasts a try. I must admit I have enjoyed the experiment more than the final products. I suspect next summer I will invest in a cooler of sorts, or perhaps build one from an old dorm fridge so that I might avoid specialty yeast strains altogether.


About mrhopsbeertalk
Avid homebrewer and craft beer taster. I love all the hops I can get. #hops #ipa #iipa #ipl #porter #dipa #specialtyale #saison #craftbeer western mass · mrhopsbeertalk.wordpress.com

One Response to A three-headed Saison Part 2: Tasting the beers

  1. Pingback: Mastering 3724 – Brewing with the Dupont Saison yeast round 4 #3724Saisonyeast #Summerbrewing #warmtempyeast |

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