Saturday, December 22, 2012

Carnelian Red Rye IPA | DREGS #8

My hobbies are starting to rub up against one another, in a bad way.  I like to run.  For fun, 5Ks, half marathons, triathlons.  In the back of my mind, I always felt like brewing (and the subsequent drinking and consuming of calories) gave me a reason to exercise.  From an opposing perspective, exercising with intention seemed to provide me with license to imbibe.  Lately, it feels like the two are less complimentary than they have been in the past.  When I should be running, I find myself drinking a beer.  When I want to brew, I don't because I won't have time to run.  Maybe it's the holidays, but often I don't seem to have energy to do either.  Every time I find motivation, something interferes and prevents my good intentions from being realized.

Carnelian Gemstones
Yesterday, I got a decent run in right after work.  5 miles through a canyon nearby with no one else around.  I didn't feel tired or distracted or out of sync.  Then last night I brewed for the first time in over a month.  I used rye for the third brew session in a row and made a beer that I hope will be reminiscent of Alpine Nelson, but with more caramel malt character.  Carnelian Red Rye IPA uses sizable portions of Nelson hops in the flavor and aroma additions and in dry hop additions as well.  There's plenty of rye in the malt bill along with American 2-row and a variety of Caramel Malts rounding out the malt profile.  I used rice hulls for the first time to offset the gumminess of the rye and avoid a stuck sparge.  Safale US-05 yeast provides the magic.  It came out a nice deep red color (hence the name, Carnelian).  Check the recipe below:

Carnelian Red Rye IPA

I had a bottle of Oude Gueuze Tilquin á L'Ancienne that I'd been wanting to drink.  Gueuzerie Tilquin blends gueuze the traditional way, using worts from a variety of Belgian producers like Cantillon and Boon.  It's a beautiful beer in my opinion.  It's very tart and aromatic.  There's heavy citrus notes in the taste and the finish is wonderfully dry.  It's funky, but not in your face.  I decided to make a dregs beer using the yeast dregs, so I made an extra gallon of wort when brewing Carnelian RedRye IPA.  I admit, the profile of the base beer doesn't exactly scream wild fermentation, but I guess that's sort of the point with dregs beers.  You get to combine ingredients and processes that aren't "supposed" to play well together.

DREGS #8: Gueuzerie Tilquin - Oude Gueze Tilquin á L'Ancienne

Next, I'll be brewing Lewy's Blackout IPA.  It'll be the first time I've replicated one of his recipes exactly and it's a personal favorite of mine.  Can't wait...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mixing Ingredients In A Big Pot | Crystal Rye

About a month ago, I set off to brew my third Flanders Red.  I had a new recipe and couldn't wait to get started.  I've been a dedicated patron of the largest homebrew supply store in the area for 10 solid years.  In that time, I've watched them expand their home brew shop as well as their brewing, and despite my appreciation for the beer they make, have found myself a little disappointed in the selection, knowledge base, business hours and customer service on the homebrew end.  As I started to measure out my Flanders recipe, two of the five malts that I had planned to use were sold out.  Both Special B and Caramunich were out of stock.  I had experienced similar disappointment often in the past, arriving with a recipe in hand, only to find that I can't brew the way I'd planned and changing it on the fly for better or for worse.  I decided to head elsewhere.

The Best Damn Homebrew Shop inside of Krisp Market reminds me of what my old homebrew supply store used to be like.  It's homebrewing done on a smaller scale and without pretense.  Why is pretentiousness a factor?  I've waxed philosophical in the past about homebrewing being more than just mixing ingredients in a big pot.  I still feel like it's a creative outlet akin to art, and that exclusivity and elitism cheapen it in the extreme.  You take simple, fresh ingredients, combine them with intention, control (but ultimately just embrace) the intangibles in fermentation, and end up with a product greater than the sum of its parts on many different levels.  There's no reason why you should have to navigate any false terrain in the process.

The Best Damn Homebrew Shop has a good selection of malts, many that are new to me.  One of the most interesting is Caramel/Crystal Rye.  Rye adds a distinctive spicy, dry flavor to a beer when utilized correctly and with appropriate subtlety.  I'm a huge fan of Alpine's Nelson which makes great use of rye in conjunction with Nelson Sauvin hops, and I've used rye with some success in the past (most recently with Ryenoceros IPA).  Crystal Rye is something I don't have experience with, though.  It's toasted like any other crystal malt and ends up at roughly 100 L. Tasting it in its raw form gives the impression that it will impart the same flavors as its unkilned counterpart but with the additional roundness and intensity of flavor you'd expect in a crystal malt.  The last two beers I've made have used Crystal Rye and I'm excited about the possibilities.  Recipes and descriptions below:

Dotted Line Rye Mild

A recent issue of Zymurgy focused on SMASH beers and included a Rye Mild recipe.  Two weeks ago I decided to brew something similar but substituted Crystal Rye for standard Rye and made some adjustments to yeast and hops to suit my preferences.  The Maris Otter base malt and single bittering Fuggles hop addition are classically British. I pitched WLP039 East Midlands Ale Yeast to maintain the British flavor profile. The result is a 4.8% ABV Rye Mild that's conditioning right now and should be on tap in a few days.

Handsome Grandson Double Rye IPA

Yesterday, I brewed a double rye IPA with Lewy, Eric and my new friend, Bill.  I looked at a lot of different recipes when formulating this beer and decided to stay relatively true to what's worked in the past.  A large amount of American 2-Row provides the bulk of the fermentables with a pound of standard Rye and a half pound of Crystal Rye adding complexity.  Over a pound of the hops I bought a few weeks back find their way into this beer (Chinook, Amarillo, Columbus, Centennial, Cascade), and I'm hoping that they leave some room for the rye to shine in the final product.  I'll be dry hopping it three times before it's done.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Getting Front Row Seats

If you're a fan of live music, then you've likely had this experience:

Your favorite band is coming to town to play a show, and tickets are scarce.  They go on sale on a certain day at a certain time.  You carve out that time in your schedule far in advance, making sure you won't have conflicts that might jeopardize your purchase, and when the tickets go on sale you're online, refreshing the page every few seconds until you're given the chance to buy them.  You don't worry about ticket price.  You're not concerned about convenience fees.  You know that if you miss the opportunity to see the concert, that you'll regret it and that's not acceptable.  In the mad rush to purchase you buy as many tickets as you can, thinking of your friends and knowing that they will certainly buy one from you, essentially spending their money for them without pause.

That same sense of urgency seized me this week as Hops Direct finished pelletizing some of the most sought-after hop varieties and placed them on sale earlier this evening.  I checked their site on Monday and saw that Amarillo, Chinook and Citra hops would be available for purchase on Friday.  There has been talk in the homebrewing community about the difficulty in acquiring certain hop varietals.  Some types are trademarked, and can only be grown in limited quantities.  Many of the most desirable aroma and dual purpose hops used in IPAs are purportedly difficult to find this year for the homebrewer with limited buying power.  I started to get anxious.  When would their website refresh?  Should I stay up until midnight with the expectation that 12:01 would be the start of my chance to purchase these hops?  Lewy and I discussed some strategy, but ultimately braced for disappointment.  Early this morning and then throughout the day, I checked Hops Direct and saw that the new varieties had not been added to their online store.  Away from the computer all afternoon, Lewy sent me updates periodically, telling me that there had been no change.  Suddenly, at ten minutes to 5:00, Lewy sent me a text message:

"Buy, buy!"

I dashed upstairs to the computer. logged on, and made my purchase, a pound each of:


By the time I finished checking out, the Citra and Amarillo were sold out, hundreds of pounds purchased in less than 10 minutes by the brewing public, hungry for alpha and beta acids in their homebrews.  Now it's time to tweak my favorite Double IPA recipe.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Three+ Years of Lambic -or- I Do a Decoction Mash

Step mashes are intimidating.  Different water volumes and temperatures.  Infusing here, removing wort there.  It's one of the more advanced brewing techniques that I have yet to take on.  When my friend Steve gave me over 20 pounds of fresh Cabernet grapes a few months back, I immediately added half of them to a nearly year old Flanders Red Ale.  I froze the remainder and started to mull over the best use for them.  Ultimately I decided to do the following:

  • Brew a series of three lambics, each roughly one year apart
  • Blend them when appropriate (3-4+ years) into gueze
  • Add fruit (the cabernet grapes, tart cherries, etc.) to portions of them if appropriate

It's an ambitious plan when you think about timelines and the potential for error-much like mead in that sense.  The desired final product is close to half a decade in the making and that's a long time to wait for certain uncertainty.  I'm hoping that I can make a quality fruit lambic using portions of the first one I brew when it's less than two years old.  With this plan solidified in my mind, I set out to learn all I could about the complexities associated with traditional lambic brewing.  I reread websites and books that had offered guidance in the past and approached them with renewed creative context.  As usual, I scoured the web for more information, the jewels of experience that make such a huge impression on my resolve to go forward with something potentially disastrous.

First water addition.
Traditional lambic brewing in the vein of Cantillon, Haansens, Oud Beersel and others typically utilizes a series of steps.  Water of different temperatures and volumes is added at particular times to raise the mash temperature and convert different starches.  Likewise, runnings are pulled from the mash and heated to halt enzyme activity and provide some of the long-term fermentables that keep non-traditional fermentation agents busy and make lambic interesting.  I went ahead and followed a comparable procedure, taking much from the Mad Fermentationist and his post on turbid mashing among other sources.  It was complicated and a little nerve-racking but worked out well in the end  Here's how the decoction mash shook out:

Water Temperature of Addition
Resulting Mash Temperature
3.1 quarts water
5 quarts water
1 quart, heat to 176°F, hold
6.5 quarts water
4 quarts, add to previous quart, heat to 176°F, hold
5.4 quarts water
5 quarts pulled, heated wort
Begin sparge

I adjusted volumes slightly on the fly in order to reach the desired temperature at each step.  I ended up gathering more than 8 gallons of wort when the sparge was complete, and a pretty hard two hour boil yielded the 6+ gallons I needed (5 gallons for the lambic and one gallon for a dregs batch made with Goose Island Sofie bottle dregs).  Pulling runnings from the wort at different times was really interesting, with the liquid coming out milky white and primordially hazy.  I ended up with a better original gravity than I expected based on past efficiency, and pitched Roselaire Yeast shortly after chilling.

I'm really excited to get this process under way and am already thinking about the recipe for Lambic #2, planned for roughly a year from now.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Red Giant Flanders Red and Zythos IPA

I brewed last weekend for the first time since mid-July.  It's the longest I've gone without making a beer in recent memory.  I was able to get two beers done, but it took all day:

Red Giant Flanders Red

Red Giant

After blending Flanders Red Ales with Lewy a few weeks back, we poured all of the remaining yeast cakes into a single carboy.  The huge cake comprised multiple pitches of Roselaire and innumerable dregs batches.  Seeking to continue some of the success we had, I brewed a new Flanders Red recipe and pitched it directly onto the cake after chilling.  The new recipe focused on Vienna as a base grain with some significant wheat for mouthfeel and crystal for color.  I had planned to use Special B but couldn't get my hands on any prior to brewing.  The brew session was sort of a mess.  I spilled a bunch of first runnings through a faulty seal in a bucket.  My SRM, gravity, and volume were all off.  My garden hose broke right when I needed to start chilling post boil.  It'll probably be the best beer I've ever made.

Zythos IPA

I bought a pound of hops from Hop Union that approached hops in a completely different way.  Traditionally, hops are always sold as harvested varietals, with the brewer deciding if and how to combine desirable flavors.  Hop Union created its Zythos blend of hops specifically as a multi-use hop for IPAs and other American-style hop-forward brews.  The idea of creating a proprietary blend of hop varietals and selling it under a single name is pretty interesting and Zythos is supposed to have many of the most desirable characteristics of favorites like Amarillo and Sorachi Ace.  I wanted to use Maris Otter in quantity for this beer and added a little bit of color and head retention properties with some non-fermentables.  A full 8 ounces of hops go into the recipe, and it's the first beer I can remember making that uses a single hop for bittering, flavor, and aroma.  WLP051 CA Ale V should impart some fruit notes to compliment Zythos' supposed tangerine, lemon, grapefruit and pine flavors and aromatics.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Looking Back...and Moving Forward

I made my first real homebrew on March 7, 2004.  I remember it being cloudy and overcast outside.  The sort of day that suggests activities inside. I had bought an aluminum pot, and made the beer on the stove in my kitchen.  The London Brown Ale recipe was chosen because it was supposed to mature quickly and be drinkable faster than others.  I was 24 years old, unmarried, no kids, no expectations.

Why was I brewing?  Because things that you make on your own retain more meaning than things you buy and consume passively.  Because I didn't have any money.  Because I wanted to make something unique.  Because I was (and continue to be) idealistic.  Much has changed since then.   In the interim moments between making my life something more than myself, I've found time to brew 112 beers.  Here's how they're      

American Amber Ale 7
American Barleywine 2
American Brown Ale 6
American IPA 12
American Pale Ale 10
American Wheat or Rye Beer 1
Baltic Porter 1
Belgian Dubbel 1
Belgian Pale Ale 3
Belgian Specialty Ale 3
Biere de Garde 2
Bohemian Pilsner 1
Braggot 1
Brown Porter 2
California Common 1
Dry Mead 1
English IPA 1
Flanders Red Ale 3
Gueze 2
Imperial IPA 6
Imperial Stout 3
Irish Red Ale 1
Mild 2
Munich Dunkel 1
Northern English Brown Ale 1
Oatmeal Stout 3
Oktoberfest/Marzen 1
Other Fruit Melomel 1
Other Specialty Cider or Perry 2
Pyment 1
Robust Porter 6
Saison 6
Schwarzbier 1
Special/Best Bitter 2
Specialty Beer 6
Standard/Ordinary Bitter 1
Straight (Unblended) Lambic 1
Sweet Mead 1
Sweet Stout 1
Vienna Lager 1
Witbier 3

I've made plenty of beers in style categories that I love to drink, and I plan to continue doing so.  Pale Ales, IPAs, Porters and Saisons will always have a place in my kegerator.  However, I also want to make new beers and experiment.  Looking at the list gives me some perspective and provides guidance as to styles I want to brew soon:

English Barleywine
Northern German Alt Beer
Belgian Dark Strong Ale

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Perils (and Triumphs) of Experimentation

When you're standing at the edge of discovery, staring into the abyss, it's hard to take that step away from the known and familiar.  When you put yourself out there you risk failure and disappointment when things don't work out, but stand to gain knowledge and a sense of satisfaction if you innovate successfully.  I've had  homebrewing experiences in the last month that have fallen on both sides of the spectrum.

The Bad

In mid-July I brewed side-by-side experimental saisons.  Antagonist Dark Saison had dates and molasses added, and Protagonist Cucumber Saison got dosed with (you guessed it) cucumber in secondary.  Neither beer came out the way I hoped.  Truthfully, neither one was palatable in the least.  In the course of brewing over 100 different beers during the past decade, I've only dumped two as completely undrinkable.  Both of the saisons I made found their way down the drain last night, an experience that's disheartening.

Protagonist Cucumber Saison down the drain.
I added too much molasses and dates to the Dark Saison, making the taste harsh and overly sweet at the same time.  With the Cucumber Saison, I left the cucumbers in secondary too long, making the cucumber flavor overpoweringly intense.  Both beers ended up with the their respective intended complementary flavors dominating.  I learned something in the process but the lesson was painful.

The Good

Preparing to blend.
Lewy and I started out almost a year ago with the intention of making a delicious Flanders Red Ale and learning something about blending. The idea of making and learning about sour beers was the catalyst for the birth of this blog.  Our first sour batch was made collaboratively, and since then we've made many other sour beers and dregs beers, all of which have added perspective and experience to our brewing.  This past weekend we met at Lewy's house for our first attempt at blending.  With 25 gallons of Flanders Red to work with, we shrugged off intimidation and immersed ourselves in the process, ending up with (what we think are) amazing final products.

Here are the beers we had for blending:
  1. Farmer's Bitch (Lewy's) - Flanders Red with Roselaire and various dregs added.  Sour and funky but also some prominent fruit notes.  Beautiful red color.
  2. Farmer's Daughter (Lewy's) - Beautifully clear and deep dark red.  Mouth-puckeringly tart and delicious.  Roselaire yeast.
  3. Flanders Base (Lewy's) - Flanders Red brewed with WLP001 as a blending base.  Somewhat oxygenated but some desirable fruit flavors.
  4. Crumple Car (Mine) - Different recipe than Farmer's Daughter.  Medium toast American oak cubes added.  Slight sourness and big funk.  Off red in color.
  5. Farmer's Daughter (Mine) - Part of the 10 gallon batch brewed with Lewy.  Roselaire yeast and 10 pounds of crushed cabernet grapes made this fruit-intense and slightly funky/acidic.
After trying different combinations we were blown away by Blend 7:

Farmer’s Bitch
1.5 Parts
Farmer’s Daughter (Lewy’s)
1.25 Parts
Flanders Base
1 Part
Crumple Car
.7 Parts
Farmer’s Daughter (Mine)
1.5 Parts

The finished beer had a beautiful fruit nose with a hint of the funkiness that you would expect in a Flanders.  It tasted tart enough to be refreshing but still retained plenty of the complexity that you get from bug fermentation.  The flavor was smooth and complicated, the color a clean even red.

Lewy and I split the ten gallons that we netted and are each going to crash cool the beer and bottle or keg it as we see fit.  We made two additional blends (one each) based on our own taste preferences and will get those ready to serve, as well.  

**Check out Lewy's excellent (and more detailed) write-up on the entire experience for a clearer picture of the process.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cabernet Grapes

My friend Steve has a green thumb.  He's always bringing me zucchini and cucumbers and tomatoes from his garden.  His parents also have a backyard garden, and a few weeks ago Steve was walking, talking with his Dad when they passed his father's cabernet grape vine.  The vine was a giant natural bramble of twisted branches heavy with sun-ripened grapes ready to be picked.  Steve's father had purchased the vine in wine country in the bay area over a decade before, and the vine had steadily begun baring more and more fruit as it matured.  The grapes it had produced this year were dark and sweet.  Steve's Dad generously agreed to cut them and give them to Steve so that he could share them with me.  That's how on Friday afternoon last week I sat staring wide-eyed at this box resting on my front lawn:

My kids started eating them right away.  Organically grown, perfectly ripe wine quality cabernet grapes are easy to enjoy.  They tasted of deep berry (blackberry?) flavors with a hint of complimentary vanilla, and were sweet and juicy.  I realized that I needed to use them right away.  So after consulting with the Mad Fermentationist (thanks for emailing me back!) I decided to add some to my Farmer's Daughter Flanders Red that's been fermenting for almost ten months.  But first I needed to figure out how much I had.

So early last Saturday morning I started to remove the grapes from the vines.  I had some help from Claire and Ben who really just wanted to eat them.  The whole process took about two hours, with me carefully removing stems and bagging the grapes after washing them.  The result was much more than I expected.  Altogether the box contained almost 21 pounds of grapes!
Four 5 +lb bags
Ben sorting (eating) grapes
I decided to use half of them in the Farmer's Daughter Flanders Red.  I crushed them into a pulp and racked the Flanders on top.  The other half I decided to freeze.  Freezing fruit is a good way to preserve its flavor and helps with fermentation because when frozen, fruit cell walls tend to  burst, giving the yeast and other microbial cultures a chance to get to all of the available sugars and ferment.  It seems counter intuitive to freeze such a fresh product, but it's actually the best thing to do.

Over the past few days, I've worked out my plans for the remaining ten+ pounds.  I want to start a cycle of lambics, brewing one roughly each year for the next three years, and ultimately blending the three batches into a gueze that has the potential to be greater than the sum of its individual parts.  I'm planning to incorporate the remaining grapes somewhere within the process, but honestly am not sure exactly where.  Tentatively I think it might be added to a portion of this first lambic after at least a year of fermentation.  The grain and hop bill couldn't be any easier, with pilsner malt, unmalted wheat and aged hops providing a simple base for the myriad of microfauna to work its magic.  I plan to brew the first one with a turbid mash schedule mid-week:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Dunkel and Ambrée

After a solid two months of waiting, the lagers I brewed at the beginning of the summer went on tap last week.  I brewed a Bavarian Dunkel and a Bière de Garde, two styles that are pretty unfamiliar to me, and both of which have a distinct regional association and following.  Dunkel originated in Munich and is popular throughout Bavaria.  Bière de Garde is a product of Northern France where Belgian influence is strong.  All in all, I'm very happy with the results.  Here's a quick review of both:

Peacesteiner Bavarian Dunkel

AROMA  Browned toast and sweet crusty barley.  Muted hop aroma, almost not existent.  Aromas intensify and the bread notes become more pronounced as it warms.

APPEARANCE  Deep umber in color with slight garnet tones when tilted.  Creamy, but short-lived slightly tan colored head that leaves rings on the glass with each sip.  Very clear but not quite brilliant.

FLAVOR  Clean and bready with a rich, complex undertone of bread crusts.  The Munich malt is intense and melanoidin-rich.  Hops compliment and balance well, taking a decided back seat to the malt, which reveals significant sweet character.

MOUTHFEEL  Medium-full body and creamy smooth, with only the slightest hint of alcohol warmth present.

OVERALL IMPRESSION  A uniquely German and surprisingly thirst-quenching dark brown lager that showcases the bready aromas and flavors associated with Munich malt used in force.  The balance is very nice, and the the beer is to style without off-flavors in all categories.  I'm very happy with this beer.

Ambrée - Bière de Garde 

AROMA  Noble hops and malt in equal portions with distinct Pilsner and Munich malt aromas blending together well.  A small mustyiness, not unpleasant, in the background.

APPEARANCE  Somewhat clear, strong red in color with a wispy tentative off-white head.

FLAVOR  Cool and complex on the tongue, with malt complexity almost making it convoluted, but not quite.  Hops are present but in nominal quantities and low in bitterness.

MOUTHFEEL  Medium-bodied and crisp.  Some alcohol warmth detected and almost too thin.

OVERALL IMPRESSION  All the elements of a bière de garde are present in this beer and are mostly in balance.  The alcohol content and thinner body could be slightly adjusted (down and up, respectively) to give this beer a little more malt backbone.  Hop presence is delicate and clean.  A very nice beer that lagered beautifully.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Saison vs. Dark Saison

Day vs. Night...
Order vs. Chaos...
God vs. Satan...  
Hero vs. Villain...  
Morality vs. Temptation...  
Good vs. Evil...  
Saison vs. Dark Saison...  

Perhaps a bit of a stretch, but no less intriguing than the other classic dichotomies.  They each present a metaphor for man's struggle against his own human weakness (perceived or real) and suggest a certain codependency of existence.  In much the same way that good as a concept cannot exist without evil, so must Saison beget Dark Saison as a counterbalance. ;)

All joking aside, Dark Saison is nothing new among homebrewers and other beer innovators.  Its very name is a bit of a misnomer along the lines of "Black Imperial India Pale Ale" since the saison family is typically pale straw to orange in color; I'm not particularly inclined to a strictness of style (and I prefer the term Cascadian Dark Ale, personally).  The idea of taking the highly attenuated dryness and spiced characteristics of a saison, and complicating the profile with darker flavors suggesting stone fruit is intriguing.  I took plenty of cues, recipe ideas and encouragement from others who have already brewed this style.  I also decided to do something different with a more traditional saison base and have two saisons fermenting side-by-side.  And, taking the philosophical/literary approach, I named them appropriately.

Protagonist Cucumber Saison w/ Grains of Paradise

Yes, cucumber.  Lewy suggested this idea and it appealed to me immediately.  Cucumber water is the sort of delicate beverage that you find in spas and upscale summer resorts, but it's a pretty refreshing and simple drink to make.  The cucumber gives the water a mild clean neutrality that I hope will compliment the refreshing, thirst quenching flavors in a saison.  I plan to add sliced cucumber to the beer for a brief amount of contact time after transferring to secondary.  The grain bill is about as simple as you could ask for, using only Belgian Pale Malt and Flaked Wheat (87% and 13% of the grist, respectively).  I also added grains of paradise during the last 20 minutes of the boil for a citrusy pepper note.  Czech Saaz hops and WLP568 Belgian Saison Ale Yeast Blend round out the ingredient list.

Antagonist Dark Saison w/ Dates and Molasses

Pureed dates.
With the two saisons being complementary, I decided to use the same percentage of base malt for both, with Belgian Pale and Pilsner Malts making up 87% of the Dark Saison's grist.  Vienna, Carafa II (dehusked), Caramunich, Flaked Oats and Special B provide the additional grain-based fermentables and up the SRM above 21.  The specialty grains should provide some additional sweetness and complexity.  I'm excited to see how the Special B's characteristic raisin flavor works as a compliment to the nearly two pounds of pureed dates I added during the final fifteen minutes of the boil.  An additional 6 ounces of a mild molasses (not blackstrap) added along with the dates should give some burnt brown sugar flavor.  I decided to hop this beer a little more aggressively, using Citra hops in greater than normal quantities to provide some additional fruitiness in an attempt to layer the darker malt flavors.  Like the Cucumber Saison, this beer is fermenting with WLP568.

1500ml of WLP568.
Lewy provided yeast from his delicious Sorachi Ace'd Saison, generously washed and shared with me.  The beers will be allowed to free rise in my garage (outside of the fermentation chamber) during initial fermentation.  I can't wait to have these on tap side-by-side.