Ginger Spiced Saaz Saison

The Story

gingerThis is another beer in our line of saison experiments. For this beer, we wanted to experiment with spices and hops. In terms of spice, we added ginger and black pepper. In terms of hops, we added 3 oz of Saaz hops (compared to just 1 oz of Saaz hop in our previous saison). Saaz has a delicate spicy and floral aroma, which we hope will be nicely complimented by the saison yeast, ginger and black pepper.

We feel that spices are best used when they compliment other flavours. The idea is not have a clear pepper taste in our beer; in fact, the idea of tasting black pepper in your beer is somewhat repulsive. We want the pepper to bring out the flavour of the ginger, and bring out the flavour of the spicy Saaz hops.

The Tasting

Appearance: Strong, smooth head, dominated by small bubbles. A deep amber colour, with lots of carbonation. Fairly clear.
Aroma: A strong peppery aroma, from the large amounts of Saaz hops and enhanced with the pepper. There are also hints of lemon and ginger.
Taste: A sweet, floral and spicy start with a little bit of banana. The flavour of candied ginger comes in later, and lingering in the mouth. There is quite a bitter bite to the beer despite all the sweetness. There is quite a heavy body to the beer as well. The carbonation makes all the flavours more prominent. This beer is very ‘tangy’.
Overall: This beer is somewhat of an oddity. It is sweet, yet has a bitter edge. The taste of ginger lingers in the background, yet the spiciness of the Saaz hops and pepper and in the foreground. The spice really dances on your tounge, from the ginger, pepper and Saaz hops all acting in unison. Perhaps the beer had too many late addition Saaz hops that dominated the rest of the beer. The inclusion of the malt Special B, which is supposed to add flavours of plums, it pretty much unnoticeable, aside from making the beer a deep amber colour. Nevertheless, the beer is surprisingly easy drinking despite all its complexities. Perhaps this is best as a dessert beer.

gingersaison

The Process

Specifics: 23 litre batch, 76% extraction efficiency, ABV 6.7%, O.G. 1.057, IBU 34, single infusion mash at 68 Celsius for 60 minutes

Grain Bill
The idea was originally to let the hops shine in through in this beer, with a clean bitterness, but our love for malts got the best of us. As you can see from the grain bill below (and a picture of our malt cabinet), there are a lot of different malts in here. This will make it very interesting, and hopefully refreshing. The bitterness likely will not be very noticeable due to the CaraHelle and Honey malt used; however, we still hope the hop aroma and flavour will come through nicely.

(Update: this was a totally wrong assessment. Lots of hops come through this malt bill)

IMG_20130112_152631Gambrinus Pale Malt: 9 lb (We wanted Pilsen malt, but we didn’t have any)
Gambrinus Wheat Malt: 2 lb (Wheat makes it tart and adds body, which we thought would nicely compliment the Saaz hops and the ginger)
Flaked Wheat: 1 lb (Same reason for adding the wheat malt, but flaked wheat has even more of a ‘wheat flavour)
CaraHelle: 12 oz (This is a light coloured carmel malt that will add some sweetness)
Gambrinus Honey Malt: 4 oz (It’s just a nice complement, plus it adds a toastiness)
Special B: 2 oz (There is really no good reason for why we added this malt. It adds a bittersweet toffee, raisin and plum flavours. It is often used in Belgian Dubels. We added it here just because)

Hop Schedule
We wanted the spicy and floral flavour and aroma of Saaz hops, and a lot of them.

60 minutes: 1.25 oz Ultra (9% AA) (We couldn’t waste our delicate Saaz hops for bitter, so we used a different German-esque hop Ultra. The AA content was unusually high so it worked as a bittering hop)
15 minutes: 1 oz Saaz (For that spicy flavour)
5 minutes: 0.2 oz Black Pepper and 0.5 oz Ginger (We didn’t really know how much ginger and pepper to add to compliment the hops and yeast, so we settled on the more conservative side)
1 minute: 2 oz Saaz (To get loads of floral and spicy aroma. After we stopped the boil, we let the hops steep in the wort for 10 minutes, hoping that with would extract extra aroma and flavour out of the hops)

Fermentation
Poured onto a Wyeast 3711 French Saison yeast cake used for the Winter Harvest Saison. This was not overly wise, as it muted the flavour of the yeast (due to over-pitching). In our defense, the OG of the previous beer was lower (1.050) and it was a smaller batch (only 17 or so litres). Nonetheless, we still overpitched.

Primary Fermentation: 14 days at 19C (a little cool for this yeast strain, recommended between 18-25 C)

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