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11/02/05 09:52 PM  
Re: WLP 565 Saison I yeast: update
For what it's worth (see post above), I gave in to temptation and pitched the Dupont yeast cultured from the bottle. Then, after getting the same hydrometer reading for 3 days and not perceiving a lot of action (it had gone from OG 1.054 down to 1.031 and sat there), I also pitched a 2-step starter I'd worked up from a bottle of Fantome Saison (about 4oz to 12 oz steps).

I had gotten some beer for the brew day and was really blown away by the Fantome - I'd had it before in a couple places and been underwhelmed, but this bottle was spot on - delectably lemony/citrusy, with a fantastic tartness that was still balanced. Then I bought another bottle a few days later and it seemed rather lackluster. Alas).

Anyhow, putting the airlock on after that made it evident that fermentation was in progress with a steady bubbling about every 4 seconds, consistent now for the last several days. The sulfury smell has entirely disappeared, replaced by a pungent pineapple aroma and flavor. Otherwise, it tastes quite clean and ale-y. So, I'm out of panic mode and hunkering down for the long haul, as I'm only 7 days in at this point. Should be interesting to see what impact the Fantome has in addition to the WLP 565.

Since I've found a good spot for higher-temparature fermenting, I am considering using the yeast slurry from this batch for a dry carbonated mead or similar, possibly per the popular recipe handed down from Papazian's ginger mead . . .never tried anything like that before.

12/02/05 12:45 AM  
further adventures in Saison-land
Been a month or so since I last posted here, but I'd like to continue to add some data regarding WLP565, etc.

I racked this batch into a secondary fermenter after 14 days, with the SG coming in at 1.010. Patience, I thought. No activity was evident after that, even though I kept temps in the mid-70s. 2 weeks later, with the SG unchanged, I gave in and pitched the Eau de Vie yeast I had held in reserve. Soon after, a bubble every so often (maybe an hour or two - don't really know except when I caught one happening) indicated that some progress was being made. Today (a week after pitching the Wyeast 3347) the SG is 1.009. I had hoped for more progress in 7 days.

So, here I am 5 weeks in and still 3 points or so above where I thought I'd aim for terminal gravity. I'm wondering if anyone here might have any advice. How long should I hold tight before bottling? For what it's worth, there is still a very slight sweetness up front for this, followed by a fairly tart taste that lingers into a tangy aftertaste that I am tempted to describe as slightly salty (?!?) The aroma is still densely tropical fruit-y, with a faint hint of spiciness.

Aside from that, I'm enjoying a nice Affligem Tripel during my racking efforts this evening, which I should probably stump for as 'typical' for the style on the relevant threads here. The meady-thingy I mentioned before also has gone great guns and fermented out to over 11% ABV (in fairness I should add that it sat apparently inactive for 3 days after the WLP565/SD/Fantome yeast cake was pitched, and did not show significant activity until I added some red wine yeast 3 days later, by which time a mild gueuze-y sourness had developed . . .), and is now going to age for a few months in secondary. Perhaps from the lemongrass I added with the ginger in the boil, it has a pungent, herby 'shampoo-like' aroma. Not unpleasant, really, with the very warming alcohol as background and a faintly sour lingering finish. "Mead the Gueuze", anyone?

12/04/05 09:28 AM  
Re: WLP 565 Saison I yeast
Quite an odyssey here Eric, lots of info but I'm not sure all the info you provided was the right info. Kinda buried in all this was your starting gravity, which was 1.054, yes? From that it sounds like you scored a 1.009 beer, albeit via a lot of focus on fermentation agents. From everything I have read here from you I don't think the question is "how can I get this beer drier", I think it is "how dry could I expect to get a beer made with liquid malt extract". Pushing down that finishing gravity is not just a matter of yeast handling - although that is certainly a significant factor. You need to consider exactly what the yeast has to work with. I think your best course of action now would be to read up all you could on the specific extract (manufacturer and type) you used to find out what the greatest potential for fermentability is. If you are fairly new to brewing then I would say that 1054 > 1009 ain't half bad. One of these days you'll no doubt have a bigger area to work with and can consider grain brewing, when that happens you will have greater control over the fermentable potential of your wort. Till then I think you are doing fine with what you do have to work with.

It sounds to me like your living situation has you focusing on the one area of brewing that you can, developement of fermentation agents. I think your results will improve when you are in a position to give all aspects of beer production the same level of attention. I guess till then you have a great opportunity to research yeast handling, which in the long run can only help. Bottom line: nice job! Steve

12/04/05 03:38 PM  
Re: WLP 565 Saison I yeast
I will second Steve's words. A TG of 1.009 for an extract beer is pretty respectable. Depending on which extract you are using will determine how much actual fermentables you have to work with. I have seen numbers anywhere from ~50% fermentables (for Laanglander) up to as much as 80-85% fermenetable (a Canadian malster, don't remember the name). The numbers may be a bit off, but it's off the top of my head trying to remember from a thread from another homebrew forum about the subject. Anyway, I think it's safe to say that your in good standing to start bottling your beer and enjoying it for what it is. A well cared for homebrew.

Besides, I don't think you will be able to tell the difference between 3 gravity points. I know I probably couldn't.

12/08/05 12:24 PM  
Re: WLP 565 Saison I yeast
Thanks so much for the feedback on my rambling story above! I am checking out the specifics on the liquid extract (United Canadian light, I believe). I think you guys are probably right on it being effectively done, but the 1.007 finisher from a few years back that I noted above, which subsequently turned into a gusher in the bottle, still has me a little spooked.

Since I don't think there's any harm in 'warm-aging' this style in the carboy and I'm in no rush, I think I will wait a little bit before taking your advice and bottling.

12/08/05 12:47 PM  
Re: WLP 565 Saison I yeast
Erik, if I interpret your comment correctly, it sounds like you want to be certain the fermentation has concluded lest you risk making glass gernades. This isn't how I operate any more, but I made plenty of batches that fermented for the recommended 1 week, sat in secondary for another week then went into the bottle. That used to be the standard homebrewer approach. Gushers were a rarity. The part about gushing isn't necessarily realted to normal fermentation activity. Other undesireable entities that can outperform yeast can easily be the cause. If super long storage time was necessary for yeast to do its job without making gushers then beer would probably not be a viable commercial product.
12/22/05 05:38 PM  
Re: WLP 565 Saison I yeast
Thanks, Steve. Yeah, the only overcarbonated beers I've had in the past were in retrospect accountable to over-priming, except for that one Saison with WLP565, and with no other yeast strain have I experienced a need or desire to extend fermentation time like this.

Anyhow, I did end up waiting (for a champagne corker which never arrived from the usually-reliable Brewer's Apprentice folks in Freehold. I'm still interested in this finishing method, and I suspect other folks here have some experience, so maybe that's a new thread for another time . . .) an additional 2 weeks but, as you had predicted, there was no further change in gravity, as it has remained at 1.009. So it's bottled (and prosaically crown-capped, alas) now.

As a side note, as of bottling time, the tartness from the previous tasting had developed into a significant, though not overwhelming, sourness. Although I did want some of the 'twang' I liked in the Fantome, this seems more gueuze-like than saison-like to my taste - as least relative to my other target models, like Dupont and Pipaix. Markowitz does mention 'tart' or 'sour' saisons - one by the name of 'surette' I seem to recall.

Anyhow, I'm hoping the process for this one doesn't continue into what I believe you referred to elsewhere here as 'salad dressing' land, Steve! Been there once with a pseudo-lambic attempt and have no desire to return. Will have to wait and see. . . .

12/23/05 10:01 AM  
Re: WLP 565 Saison I yeast
Good news then, the time of year is not right for the sourness to become vinegar.
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