Something Completely Different

Last week I set about looking for some advice on my upcoming brew.  My imperial IPA, Pretentious Hopster, is busy getting a little age and carbonation in bottles, and I’ve started to think about what I want to brew next.  I told everyone last week I had fallen on a saison.  Lately I’ve been really into saisons, and I thought it could be fun to brew, plus I want to hopefully brew something my wife won’t absolutely hate.  I got a lot of great information about that brew last week; however, I felt like it also gave me a real perspective that I was a little ways off from a real recipe.  My friend Gavin pointed out that I didn’t need the oats in there at all, so I felt like maybe my recipe I found that was a backbone was somewhat flawed.  Then another friend, John, showed me a recipe for a saison he had in a magazine.  I thought it looked easy enough, and I just wanted something I could play with, so I decided to go with the magazine recipe.

Unfortunately I don’t have my notes or the magazine in my possession right now, so I’m kind of fudging the steeping grains right now.  However, I think I used Vienna Malt, Munich Malt type 2, and Caramunich Malt III.  Of course, I may get a hold of my notes at some point and realize I messed one of these up, but I think these were the three grains I ended up using for my steeping.  I got them in all equal parts.  Then I also got 6.66 lbs of Pilsner LME as well.  It seemed like a simple enough base for me to start off with to make sure I could really build off it.

The hops were where I started to try to have some fun with it.  I was originally told to put Willamette hops in it; however, I had no real desire to put those in there at all.  I really wanted to get a more Asian feel out of it.  It may not seem Asian at all in the end, but it at least is a direction I had.  I decided to with Sorachi Ace, which I put .75 oz in for 60 min and .25 in at the 5 min.  I wanted one other type of hop in there to complement it and give the beer a little more diversity.  I did a lot of research, and I ended up standing in front of the hop fridge at the store for a few minutes on my smartphone trying to make a decision, but I ultimately ended up on Amarillo.  It said that it has some spicy, citrusy, and tropical fruit qualities.  I’m not sure if they are going to be awesome together, or if it will be an epic fail, but I’m glad I’m branching out.  I got them in there at the 15 min mark.

The spices I wanted to get in it were another really big thing in my mind, but I think it kind of came apart and was secondary in the end.  I have stated I wanted to get some Asian flavors in there, but I don’t really know a lot of good Asian spices for beer.  Ultimately I knew I was going to be throwing some ginger in there; however, I was really bashing my head against the wall trying to think of other spices.  I ultimately kind of gave up and went with some standard stuff.  Therefore, in the last five minutes of the boil, I threw an ounce of coriander in there, and I zested fresh ginger and orange peel in there as well.  I have no idea if fresh was the way to go, but I thought it sounded good.

The yeast is the one part I forgot to talk about in my previous post.  I had some recommendations from some friends; however, I ended up using Wyeast Belgian Saison 3724.  I once again stood at the fridge looking at all of the yeast strains, but I landed on this one.  I liked that you could ferment at a higher temperature, and the write up made it sound like the premier yeast.  I’ll probably have someone get on here tell me the error of my ways, but I thought it seemed like a good idea.

I’m thinking of maybe slicing up some fresh ginger and orange peel for the saison to sit on in the secondary; however, I’m wondering what everyone thinks of that idea.  Can anyone give me a good reason not to try that?  I’m a little worried I got a little too experimental with a few things too fast, but I’m having fun, and I hope it turns out good.  I’ll keep everyone up to date on how it goes. I wanted to name it something that went a little closer to the brewery name: Vigilante.  Therefore, this will be Seppuku Saison.  Look it up if you don’t get the meaning.  It may be a little dark and scary for a saison, but I think that’s the fun of it.  Plus I’ll want to partake in the activity if the beer doesn’t work out.



  1. I’ll be interested to see how the Amarillo hops turn out. They are “in the hole” on hop epedia, but I may hold off until you report on Seppuku. Sculpin is big on Amarillo. I get serious grapefruit, then some tropical fruit when it warms up.

  2. You could pull some beer off when going into the secondary and experiment on that. I used to use a growler or a 4L bottle I got from work to do it. This way you not only lose the risk of messing up a whole batch to “experimentation” but you get to compare your experiment to the original batch, which really shows you the difference any changes you make in the recipe affect the finished product.

  3. FYI: I just saw Farmer’s Cabinet Brewhouse (the saison/farmhouse brewery that moved into Shenandoah Brew Co’s old space near the Van Dorn Metro Station) has a beer in the works similar to yours: Joy Division Series #4: Heart & Soul – a farmhouse ale brewed with chamomile, orange peels, lemon peels and a blend of Amarillo, Citra and Galaxy hops. I guess you don’t have chamomile and galaxy and you have Sorachi and not Citra, but there seem to be similar flavors on the whole.

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