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Belgian Brewday: La Corée en a Quatre (Saison)

For those who don’t live in Korea, the name of this Saison (Korea Has Four) is a bit of a quip; anyone who has lived here a month or two knows that for some reason, the fact that Korea has four seasons is considered very important by a lot of people here — a fact lampooned in at least one film I’ve seen, Dasepo Sonyeo (Dasepo Naughty Girls).

I could get into why this is, and the reasons that such a common thing in the temperate zone attained such an important status in Korea, but this is a post on the beer I’m in the middle of brewing, so I’ll restrain myself.

So, anyway, if Korea has four, then the one I’m brewing for is an early spring Saison; sure, I’ll probably drink some of it in February, but most of it will be consumed in March, in the early spring, and gifted to people around then. The recipe is a little more complex than the last Saison, though I haven’t tasted that yet. Indeed, I am just now racking it to secondary for a little while, in a carboy, tonight.

In fact, that’s why I’m boiling up a new Saison right now: to reuse the yeast cake on my last batch of Saison, since Wyeast 3724 (Belgian Saison) is notoriously difficult in the first generation, but pretty active in the second.

(I should add that despite that notoriety, I got my first Saison batch fermented down to 1.004 in only a few weeks, and have just been too busy to rack it to secondary until now. I think the hot little cupboard I fermented in, which sits at a pretty constant 32 degrees Celcius, probably is responsible for that, though, not any skill of mine… though I did add a little DAP just in case.)

As for the grain bill…

I just realized brewers like to use words like “grain bill” and “hop schedule” because, well, they sound professional and smart. So here I go, sounding more professional and smart than maybe I actually am. The grain bill is a little more complex than the last Saison (or if you want just the facts, see the recipe here):

The hops are simple: 49 grams of Kent Goldings added at first wort (for about 35 IBUs), on a 90 minute boil  that’s just beginning now. The only other things I’ll be adding are 200 grams of dried figs (I’m thinking in the last 20 min of the boil — I figure it’s an early spring saison, so a slight complexifying richness is in order) and some Irish Moss at the usual time.

I mashed the grain fairly high by my standards, with the infusion settling in at about 66 or 67 degrees Celcius, so we’ll see how dry this actually ends up. (The samples I’ve taken from the previous Saison were very dry, but could have used a tiny bit of residual sweetness if you ask me. Just a touch. Maybe I’m violating the rules for this style, but whatever.) One problem was that I oversparged, exceeding the target volume for pre-boil by probably a liter, but the 90 minute boil should help alleviate some of that at least. I’ll be fine with up to 20L at the end of the boil, though, since one always loses some beer to the yeast cake at the end of the racking.

I think that’s basically it. The only brewing work I have left to do tonight is to rack the Saison to secondary, and then cool and drain this wort, once the boil is over, onto the previous wort’s yeast cake. Should be a snap, and that’s partly because I’ve gotten a lot better at cleaning up as I go along.

Tomorrow and the next day will be taken up with other things, so I’ll be too busy to do more than one or two tasks, like for example racking my mead to a carboy for a long secondary, or bottling the kvass, which is bubbling away quite happily now.

UPDATE (7 Feb 2011): Ha, racking my mead to carboy. Yeah, I’d like to do that. But I haven’t yet. Hmm. Soon, when I get some kegs, and when I have the honey to start a second batch. I figure on making about 3 or 4 batches of mead this year, and letting them age for a while.

In any case, this post is for talking about my second batch of Saison, and here’s what the yeast did: it took this brew down to 1.002. This is seriously dry, but I was surprised to find it tasted pretty good. Not too hoppy, not unpleasantly thin, and not too dry on the palate. I’m looking forward to kegging it and trying some, sooner or later. But first I’ll have to (a) buy some kegs, and (b) modify a fridge into a kegerator! Big job… a side project, I think, for March.

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