Friday, May 20, 2011

2Wicky Black Saison

Sometimes I am in awe of the wonderful things that run through my head when I think of beer ingredients.  The creative side of homebrewing is the funnest part for me.  Building something different used to be my primary motivation, but then this year I decided I'd rather get some recipes down that were solid recipes I could repeat, mostly because I'd make all these weird things and find myself longing to have a simple pale ale or pils.

That's how 2Wicky started.  Only it wasn't black.  I was pumping out all sorts of crazy Belgian-style beers but putting a twist on them.  I had just brewed the #9 clone, and I liked it, but I realized that the amount of apricot extract in one bottle (4 oz) wasn't enough for a 5-gallon batch.  I needed another 4 oz bottle, but what was I going to do with the remainder of the second bottle?

Knowing that 4 ounces of extract let you know the flavor was there, but wasn't strong got me to thinking what if you could use 3 ounces and put some other things in the beer, or use a beers attributes to make someone wonder what that flavor was?  2Wicky was born, and sat in my recipe file until I decided I needed to brew some kind of wacky Belgian beer one day ("2Wicky" is a song by Hooverphonic, a Belgian band).  I looked at the recipe, but I thought of making a Saison Noire (black saison) instead.  Plus, I didn't have the apricot flavoring.

I also had been wanting to use star anise (I would go into the local ingredient store and open the whole star anise bin and inhale) and I wanted it peppery, and had just read about grains of paradise.  So I fashioned this recipe.


Batch Size (Gal): 6.00
OG: 1.072 (17.53)
SRM: 21.2
IBU: 44.8
75 % Efficiency
90 Minute boil

8.00 lbs. Marris Otter Malt            
3.00 lbs. Pilsener                    
0.50 lbs. Carafa II (dehusked)        
0.50 lbs. Crystal 40L                
0.38 lbs. Molasses                    
2.00 lbs. Demerara Sugar

1.50 oz. Perle (8.25%AA) @ 60 min.
2.00 oz. Strisselspalt (2.60%AA) @ 5 min.
1.00 Anise (whole star) @ 5 min.
2.00 gm Grains of Paradise @ 5 min.

Wyeast 3711 French Saison

There are some tricks to this beer.  When I brewed it, I threw the molasses and the sugar in with 10 minutes left in the boil.  When I make this beer this year, I will only add the molasses at this time, and not the Demerara.  I have a feeling that adding that much sugar to the boil tends to leave me with beers that don't finish below 1.016.  Therefore, what I have done before, and what I intend to do the next time, is open ferment for 2 days, rouse the yeast both days, then cover and wait for fermentation to slow.  I will then add the 2 lbs of sugar to maybe a quart or quart and a half of water, bring to a boil, and then add it to the wort, to give the yeast some dessert, and dry out the beer.  (Make sure to rouse the yeast prior to adding the sugar water to kick start it) The beer was very carbonated after I bottled.  It also got a 36 at the Urban Knaves of Grain homebrew contest this year (2011) and was entered in a mini Best of Show.  I entered this as a Belgian Specialty Ale (16E).  Some of the notes were:

"High molasses aroma with star anise notes, moderate malt aroma, medium-low hop aroma, low esters.  Brown with garnet highlights, high, light tan head, good retention.  Very light malt flavor, moderate molasses, light grains of paradise malt flavor.  Very low star anise flavor, moderate hop bitterness and aroma, some peppery phenolic notes.  Creamy explosive carbonation, medium light body, finishes prickly, somewhat dry."

This is a good beer to make as a Christmas beer.  Using the warmer temperatures in the summer to ferment, you can bottle it, and then around late November/Thanksgiving, you can start cracking them open.  Mmmmm...smells like Monk Basement.