For my second Brett beer, I decided to make a saison. Mainly because saison is just about the widest beer style there is and I wanted to play around with a lot of different ideas here. I wanted something pale in color, slightly acidic with citrus notes and a nice hoppy character on top of spicy, smokey, barnyard-y Brett. I’m sure you can find a beer that fits that description and is marketed as a saison.
I do want to make some true sour beer soon, but this time I wanted to cheat for a few reasons. First of all, I’m just impatient. Second, I put this beer on the cake from my first Brett beer and I plan to continue to utilizing this yeast for at least a couple more batches. So to get some acidity, I made close to 15% of the grist Acidulated Malt.
Acidulated Malt, or Acid Malt, originated in Germany as a way to adjust mash pH without breaking the Reinheitsgrebot. The malt is made with lactic acid. Because the acid comes as part of the malt, it doesn’t interfere with the famous German purity law.
For it’s original purpose, only a couple percent of the grist should be Acid Malt. Much later, someone came to the realization that using a larger portion of the specialty malt could lower the pH of the wort enough to imitate a sour fermentation. This still isn’t a very common practice as far as I can tell. I had trouble finding very solid information about how much to use and how much it would change the finished beer’s character. Ten percent seemed to be a common idea to get some noticeable acidity so I decided to push it a bit further to fifteen. By the time I finalized the recipe, it ended up being slightly lower than that, but I hope it will give a nice tang.
The rest of the grist is fairly straight forward, even if it is pretty varied. There are no other “specialty” malts, technically, but to fit with the tradition of farmhouse brewers who originated this broad style, I included several grains. The base malt is German Pilsner, accounting for fifty five percent of the grist. Rye Malt makes up twenty percent. There is a small amount of Flaked Wheat and the fermentables are rounded out with a pound of sugar.
The farmers who brewed the original saisons used any ingredients they had. Being farmers, they often had multiple grains, thus the rye and wheat. Those grains were in different conditions, malted and raw, thus the flaked wheat. The sugar will help further dry the beer out (though the Brett will do a pretty good job of that anyway). Yes, the rye will bring a little bit of spiciness to blend with the Brett’s fermentation character and the wheat will also help head retention and mouthfeel, but I really wanted to just add different things without putting too much emphasis on ratios and specific contributions of each. This beer is mostly about fermentation character and the variety of grains is there to add to the complexity, hopefully without getting in the way.
Despite all that, this isn’t necessarily a very traditional saison. Those beers were meant to be refreshing for the workers on the farm so the alcohol content was very low (the crude equipment and limited understanding of the brewing process could have also added to this). It has become normal now for saisons to be much stronger than their ancestors. This one should be somewhere close to 7% ABV, which is pretty standard now, but much higher than historical versions.
Also, while it is true that saisons were the hoppiest of the traditional Belgian styles, they were not this hoppy. They would have likely been hopped with traditional German and Czech Noble hops. I used two new hop varieties, but picked them due to their relation to the traditional hops. Saphir is a (relatively) new German hop variety.
I don’t know much about it and I’ve never used it but from what I understand, it has some of that traditional spicy Noble hop character along with a unique tangerine like citrus character. That sounds pretty interesting and seems like it could work well with the Brett. It is also German, so it has ties to the traditional hops used in saisons.
Motueka is a new variety that I have heard a lot about and I believe I’ve had a couple beers that featured it, but I’ve never used it myself. The variety originated in New Zealand, but it was bred from Saaz hops, so again, it has ties to more traditional saison hops. They have been described as having a blend of citrus (sometimes said to be lime-like) and floral aromas.
Between the tangerine, lime and my inclusion of lemon zest towards the end of the boil, I’m hoping for a lively, citrusy beer. One of my goals here was to combine a bunch of citrusy characters while shying away from the bitter grapefruit and rind character that has become synonymous with a lot of hoppy beers. I guess I haven’t otherwise mentioned the lemon zest up to this point.
Spices were also common in the early farmhouse saisons. I originally toyed with including some coriander or peppercorns, but ultimately decided against it. I added the lemon zest instead. I zested one lemon early in the boil and added the result with fifteen minutes left.
I hope that despite the long fermentation, a good amount of hop character persists in the finished beer. If not, I may decide to dry hop. For now, I play the waiting game and try to keep the carboy warm in this cold weather to help the Brett do its thing.
I didn’t have a name picked yet on brew day. When I got the wort into the fermenter, I was surprised to see that it had a bit of a green tint. I guess I didn’t filter out the hop residue as well as I could have? Or could it have been from all the Acid Malt? Was it the light or was I just overly tired from a long day? Anyway, it doesn’t look so green now, but that got me at least a direction for the name.
It is hoppy, so green make sense, anyway. Hopefully it will ultimately be pale and yellow or golden. It includes lemon zest. This line of thought brought me to thinking about an album by one of my favorite artists, Atmosphere. Their 2008 release, “When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold” is one of my favorites. Anyway, Green Painted Gold was the result this search for a name.
I wrote the rest of this post in fits and spurts over the last few weeks, but only hours before posting this, I took my first sample of this beer. It was fantastic. I am so excited. It has been less than three weeks since brew day and I plan to give the beer a couple months before bottling, but it already has more Brett character than my first batch of Brett beer. The citrus notes come through even more, though. Lemon is the biggest character, but lime is close behind and the beer is noticeably tart from the Acid Malt. I think I have a winner here.
Now back to the waiting game.
Grains & Adjuncts
Amount Percentage Name
8.00 lbs 55.17 % Pilsner (2 Row) Ger
3.00 lbs 20.69 % Rye Malt
2.00 lbs 13.79 % Acid Malt
0.50 lbs 3.45 % Wheat, Flaked
1.00 lbs 6.90 % Sugar, Table (Sucrose)
Amount IBU’s Name Time AA %
1.00 ozs 21.63 Motueka First Wort 6.50
0.50 ozs 6.19 Motueka 15 mins 6.50
1.00 ozs 3.98 Saphir 10 mins 3.30
1.00 ozs 0.00 Saphir 0 mins 3.30
0.50 ozs 0.00 Motueka 0 mins 6.50
Amount Name Laboratory / ID
1.0 pkg Brettanomyces Lambicus Wyeast Labs 5526
Zest of 1Lemon 15 mins