Saturday, July 30, 2011
In the world of beer, Jazz is otherwise known as Saison.
I can never truly say enough about Saison as its not only the most interesting beer style but also one of my favorites. Its the one style of beer that's less about style and all about artist interpretation. While styles like Kolsch and Pilsner have little room for creativity and focus on execution of process, Saison is about executing the process of creativity. In a nutshell Saison can be whatever you want it to be...well within reason...though that could be argued as well.
At Franklin's I produced as Saison in the early fall of 2010 and now again in summer of 2011 with one concept in mind, to make the most complex beer possible out of the least amount of ingredients and process.
The players in this were 100% pilsner malt,Saaz hops,Belgian Saison yeast and of course the terrior of the brewing world, the local water supply. This combination of straight forward ingredients along with allowing the yeast to do something that if 99% of yeast strains in the world were allowed to do would produce detrimental results. The process or lack there of is a simple free climb in temperature with no cooling whatsoever. Normally when a yeast consumes sugar during fermentation one of the byproducts is heat. In a enclosed space like a fermenter the thermal mass can get quite warm and as a result if it isn't cooled (typically between 60-70ish degrees Fahrenheit) the yeast will produce off flavors in the beer that in essence contaminate it making it very unpleasant to drink.
The exception to this in the brewing world are Belgian Saison yeast strains, which researchers speculate might have derived from wine yeast strains which seem to perform well closer to blood temperature. So here on Baltimore Ave we allow the yeast to start fermenting and because we have turned off the controls to our glycol cooling jacket on our fermenter what results is a fermentation the build higher and higher temperatures each day. Typically I've seen the digital thermometers read as high as 88 degrees Fahrenheit and I've heard of other breweries hitting 95. Maybe next year we can turn off the AC in the building and see how high we can get the fermenter...just kidding.
This years version in my opinion is a much better example of what I'm shooting for as its substantially drier than last years version enabling the yeast and late hop additions to shine in the glass. I hope you can find the simply joy in a very straight foward exotic beer.
In Mic Czech we pay homage to the original, Plzeňský Prazdroj, better known world wide by its German name Pilsner Urquell. Our Bohemian style pilsner is the result of a long and delicate handling process. Using high quality Bohemian Pilsner malt, Saaz hops and one of the world's oldest and most notable lager strains this beer was the result of seven weeks of patience. We think its worth it and hopefully you do to as you enjoy its light body packed with crisp malt and hop flavor.
That's right, "ordinary bitter"- its truely one of the awful style names that the world of beer has established and stuck to. First off these beers are not bitter,especially in the light of the modern appreciation for pale ales and I.P.A. and they can be far from ordinary when made right. Its been my experience that American beer drinkers don't take well to certain English monikers like bitter,mild or ordinary so....Cruel Summer it is.
Serving this beer via our nitro tap keeps this beer creamy and light in carbonation making it extremely quaffable since the alcohol is only 3.9%. An array of malted grains including a touch of wheat and British crystal malt help keep this beer light in body and give a touch of sweetness to balance the use of Fuggles and East Kent Goldings hops, two of the most traditional hops used in English brewing. Our house English yeast strain helps provide fruity esters to round out the beer making it a very refreshing bevergae because it's a cruel ... cruel ... cruel summer.
The Hippity Hoppity Series
The sixth installment of our Hippity Hoppity Double I.P.A. series is a no nonsense straight forward hop experience. BMF has the simplest grist bill for a DIPA that we've brewed in a while coming straight at you with 2-row barley, carapils and Weyermann's new Carabelge malt. First wort hopped with Nugget and additionally again half way through the boil helped provide this beer with a solid aggressive bitterness from the start. Later additions of Columbus,Cascade and Amarillo made sure the hop character stayed with you till well after you swallowed. Not to be outdone by the surplus of kettle hops, this beer was then double dry hopped with Chinook,Centennial,Columbus,Cascade and Amarillo for a full out attack on your nose and the beer's finish.
Don't drink me cause I'm close to the edge
I'm trying not to lose my head,
It's like a hop jungle sometimes it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
From having watched people in this area take a simple dish and spice it up with Old Bay I think this beer was no different. A simple yet solid malt base with abundance of wrist flicked hop seasoning sprinkled throughout.
The Hippity Hoppity Series
No Sip til’-Brookland…
Hop on the petal never brew with nettle
My thirst brewing hotter than a boiling kettle
My job's ain't a job it's a damn good time
I'm an East Coast hop boy climbing the vine
While you're at the job working nine to five
The Belgeastie Boys in the beer garden cold drinkin' it live
For the fifth edition to the Hippity Hoppity series we have without a doubt the most complex and intriguing recipe so far, a American Double I.P.A. fermented with a Belgian yeast strain. This was probably the most fun I’ve ever had mashing in the grist bill for a any beer that I’ve made. Wait, did I say grist bill, I meant grist/hop bill because I did something I had never done with a beer before, I mashed hopped. Yeah, you read that right, nearly 20 pounds of Centennial and Amarillo whole leaf hops were added to the mash tun for what was the greatest smelling mash of my brewing career.
Then in the kettle, Chinook was added at the start of the boil and in the whirlpool along with more Centennial. The aroma coming out of the kettle at this point would have made for a great air freshener. Things weren’t over just yet though since the wort still had to ferment with our house Belgian yeast strain and then later it was dry hopped with both Chinook and Centennial again.
The finished product was a cross cultural combination of grapefruit/orange-citrus, spice, mild herbal notes and a smooth bitterness.
A year later back in Denver at the Colorado Convention Center I saw him again. Pierre was autographing his new autobiography "My Life" and taking pictures with fans. I stopped over and said hello, picking up a few copies for him to sign for me and a couple of friends. He remarked that he thought we had met before and I mentioned it was about a year ago here in Denver. As if he had a "eureka" moment he said "in a hotel right"? I smiled and said "yes, you've got a good memory", we both smiled and then he asked how my wit beer recipe was progressing. I was a bit startled that he remembered our brief conversation and I responded that it was coming along but was no where as good as his. Pierre then told me something that stuck with me, that hard work is rewarded and to keep working on it, but not to forget that the only way to make a wit beer better than his was to make it my own. That even the greatest imitators will always just be that, be original.
When I learned of his passing this spring it once again reminded me of his advice to be original and make something my own. Our wit beer here at Franklin's is greatly inspired by Pierre's wit beers, but to honor him with another rendition of something his name is synonymous with seemed a bit redundant. Instead I choose to brew something more original and my own. The idea was to re-pitch our Wit beer yeast from our Witty Twitty ( a yeast originating from his original wit beer in Belgium) into a Porter recipe unlike any other I had ever created.
This recipe started with 2-row barley malt, melanoidin, malted oats,Vienna malt,flaked oats( oatmeal) smoked malt,caramunich, two types of crystal malt,biscuit,chocolate and black patent malt, that's right, a dozen different grains. In addition cane sugar was added to the kettle to increase the gravity and American,English,German and Czech hops were added to the boil.
The end result is a Belgian inspired porter that checks in at 7.45 % ABV with notes of chocolate roast,subtle smoke and fruitiness on a body of good malt depth. In addition to what we tapped I have reserved a 60 gallon wine barrel of which was inoculated with multiple strains of Brettanomyces and other funk inducing microbes, so be on the lookout for special release from our funk cellar in the future.