I had been leafing through my well worn copy of wild brews, nosing through my eclectic stash of ingredients, and my mind drifted toward the cooler days of fall and winter that will slowly descend on us here in boston. My eyes settled on the 'dark medicine' recipe in the back of the book. Having never tasted cuvee de tomme, the description and intention spoke to me loud and clear, and thought I'd put together a prospective vs. reactive wild belgian dark strong.
I upped the carafa III special a bit to give it a decidedly deeper hue and a heavier dose of D2 syrup to ensure dry figginess. While the strong population of brett C in the bug mix may not be as complimentary as a brett B or L might be, but perhaps the less obvious will be the tipping point that makes this beer uniquely, unintiutively delicious.
I warmed myself with what will form the basis for another belgian farmhouse/trappist inspired beer, and pitched the dregs of a relatively fresh (bottled 4/2010) Orval in to 500ml of starter wort, dosed up with an ounce of maltodextrin. I grabbed this perfect specimen of a beer from the close to the door cooler at public house provisions. I opted for the cold vs. warmer shelf version-OK to settle for a slightly less funk in the glass, as the yeast/bugs would be healthier. With Luc in tow in the baby bjorn, I had a long, humid but very inspired walk back home to Coolidge Corner.
Since I had been repitching and culturing up from dregs so much these days, I have made certain that I've been propping up the needed nutrients for proper propagation with balanced doses of wyeast nutrient. I'm likely to start in with the white labs competing servomyces when this vial runs out, as the concept of bio-availabile micronutrients from yeast grown in enriched media is tugging at my brain-strings pretty convincingly.
I still felt a bit gun shy with the D2 from my earlier poor attenuation experiences, but just a little fermentation experience with brett + bugs will cure you of that concern pretty quick. I even tossed in a touch (2oz) of left over maltodextrin in a cavalier oh, the bugs will tear through that stuff, no problem sort of way. In fact, you sort of hope for the sacch to back it down relatively early in the process, leaving a feast for these expressive creatures.
Willamette whole hops lend a woodsy bitterness to this beer. No flavor addition, as it'll be at least a year before bottling, probably another 6months before the first pour.
This beer is made as are all my beers. Single infusion, with my rigged 3 tier condo kitchen gravity setup, comprised of my bottling bucket HLT, rotating sparge arm, 10 gallon cooler/bazooka screen MLT, mixed withe some stainless ball valves and vinyl tubing.
For 5 gallon batches and non-sticky mash, the bazooka screen is plenty adequate. But for an overloaded mash tun, it gets bound up right quick.
Always. As in 2 hour sparges.
I'll take a deep breath and run my hand over my grandfather's prohibition resistant beer case, and gain some serenity knowing brewers have endured far greater barriers than I will likely ever need to face.
The saison was racked to 5 gallon glass, where it'll continue to slowly ferment for the next 4-6 months before bottling. The entire volume of yeast cake was split between two fermenters after aerating the big 1.086 wort.
I didn't get to watch the krausen kick up on this batch, as Esther, Luc and I went away for the week for our 1 year anniversary, but the evidence of a properly active krausen revealed itself stuck to the side of the ullage in the pyrex fermenter. Straddling the odd bedfellow line between a belgian strong dark and an imperial porter, a push on the lid of the bucketed filled my nose with subtly spiced saison, caramel, biscuit, woody hops and soft roast. Fruity pineapple and cider and CO2 sting lead me to believe I'm headed down a long road of yearning... waiting. Should give me enough time to decide on oaking and to eventually find some proper glass to house the finished cuvee.