Thursday, October 11, 2012

Next Brew Down to Two Choices

The choice for my next brew is down to two. I went to The Brew Shop in Peakhurst on Saturday and let the yeast decide!

Being a cheapskate, i went straight to the fridge and picked out the most recently expired Whitelabs liquid yeasts to help pick my next beer. Okay, they can't talk, but i'll talk to them all the same. Does that make me the Beer Whisperer? Anyway, i asked the experts there and with kindly advice i ended up with the following

Saison Ale yeast (WLP565) with Mangrove Jack's Munich Lager, plus 1kg extra light liquid malt and 1kg dextrose. I will probably use only half that to get to the mandatory 5% alcohol by volume (unless Raul is behind me egging me on to pour the lot in).

Saison, french for "season", is a non-specific style of Belgian beer originally brewed for farm workers for harvest season in the 19th century in the Wallonia region of the southern French-speaking region of Belgium. It is traditionally brewed in autumn or winter to prevent spoiling, and farm workers were entitled to five litres per day during harvest season (was that the best job of the 19th century? I think so!) .

It was also a lower alcohol beer due presumably to its use as a thirst quencher. This style of beer was considered to be a dying style, but has recently had a revival, particularly in the US, however they typically brew Saison at a higher concentration of alcohol. As much as i appreciate the higher alcohol content, why would i copy a copy? If i was going to do that, i might as well mime some Milli Vanilli while i was at it.

While having some variety in its characteristics, it was commonly a light-coloured ale, of low to medium bitterness and characterised by spicy and/or fruity complexity. The use of the Munich Lager provides the low bitterness and light colour, allowing the Saison yeast to define the beer. Oops, i'm drooling again.

The second beer is using the Whitelabs Abbey Ale yeast (WLP530), of which Coopers Sparkling Ale was chosen for its pure awesomeness!! Again, this yeast requires a darker malt with not high bitterness to allow the yeast flavour to shine through. It is also well-suited to higher alcohol beers, of which Coopers Sparkling Ale is a specialist.

I bought 2 kgs of amber liquid malt to provide the right level of colour, reflecting the malt's level of roasting. This will put the alcohol level up to 5.5 to 6%. If it's a bit low, i will add dextrose to obtain the appropriate original gravity.

The Abbey Ale yeast should add an extra dimension to the Coopers Sparkling Ale, which in my view is by far the best mass-produced Australian beer bar none. A good yeast can turn an average beer into a good beer, and in this case, a great beer into a sen-bloody-sational beer!

Due to the mystique of the Saison which i have never brewed, i think it will be my first choice, but first i have to culture it to preserve the yeast for future brews! My next post will be about this process, and quite frankly, is much more fun (and practical) than growing vegies, which, let's face it - is like watching grass grow! Stay tuned...

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