Tag Archives: Saison

Tasting Impressions: Summer Wit

I kegged and bottled our Summer Wit around two weeks ago, so today I thought it was time to try a bottle. This was one of our stranger experiments, as the basic wheat beer malt bill, was hopped with large amounts of galaxy, spiced with lemongrass, lime peel and Szechuan pepper, and fermented with WLP566 Saison II yeast. We had some huge problems with fermentation temperature, as first it dropped to around 16 degrees C after 24 hours, when we forgot to turn on the heater, and after that it rose to around 32 degrees C, as the sensor probe had at some point fallen from the fermenter to the cooler concrete floor (thermostat set at 24C). Hopefully this is drinkable at all. We were aiming for a refreshing and easy-to-drink beer for the summer. Let’s see how it does!


The color is pale yellow, and almost has a grey taint. The beer is hazy, as the style calls for. A firm white head is formed, that stays on top of the beer for a while, leaving nice drapes of lacing along the glass as it falls. Overall, the appearance is pretty spot-on for the style. Really inviting a warm summer evening as this. The aroma is really fruity, featuring a blend of yeast-derived esters and lemon-like tones, which I believe are from the lemongrass. The lime peel, and why not even the Szechuan pepper, could also be contributing to the citrus aroma. The aroma features some spicyness as well (more of the phenolic kind), which the yeast has brought with it. An interesting and quite refreshing aroma, but it somehow feels a bit off (the lemon tones and yeast products makes me think of the traditional Finnish sima). While the aroma was dominated mostly by the fruity tones, the flavor instead begins with more spicy notes, combined with a honey-like maltiness. The fruity tones become more evident as the beer lingers in the mouth, lending lemon, grapefruit and even some slight resiny hoppiness. The finish is surprisingly sweet, even though this finished with quite a low FG. Perhaps a result of the Saison yeast. The bitterness level feels quite low, even though the calculated IBUs were around 40. Pleasantly surprised about the flavor, mostly because the fermentation temperature rose to whooping 32 degrees C during peak fermentation. The body is light and the beer has a medium carbonation level. Despite the light body, it doesn’t feel thin and it still leaves a slightly sweet impression. Nothing spectacular, but should be a nice thirst-quencher for the summer.

Homebrew: Summer Wit

Yesterday we brewed up a 28L batch of a witbier/saison/pale ale hybrid. The brewday did not go smoothly at all, and we had a ton of problems with the mash (too low temperature, poor flow rate through the bed, and poor efficiency). I think most mash problems were a result of us using raw wheat. A cereal mash might have helped? The beer will most likely ferment very dry, since our mash temperature was really low for most of the mash (60-62 C). We couldn’t recirculate (and thus raise the temperature) throughout most of the mash because of poor flow through the malt bed. We also must have measured the sparge volume wrong, since we ended up with closer to 40 litres pre-boil volume, instead of the intended 30 liters. This resulted in us gaining 7 liters more wort in the fermenter, and a gravity of 1.046 instead of around 1.060-1.065. The problems did not end there, as we cooled the wort to around 23C, pitched a healthy starter of WLP566 Saison II, and set the vessel in the fermenting cabinet with the thermostat set to 24C. The next day I realized the heater was not on, and the wort temperature had dropped to 16C. I turned on the heater, and hopefully something drinkable will at least come out of this batch. The spice mixture (Szechuan pepper, lime peel and lemongrass) was smelling really nice and ‘refreshing’ at least. Hopefully it transfers well to the beer! We hopped the beer with Galaxy in ‘APA amounts’, so this should get a healthy amount of bitterness (~40 IBU) and some nice hop aromas to go with the spicyness from the yeast and the citrus from the spice mixture. Anyways, here is the recipe:

[beerxml recipe=http://beer.suregork.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/summer_wit.xml metric=true cache=-1]

Homebrew: Ilkka’s Grainy Day

  • Brewery: Ilkka’s Homebrewery
  • Country: Finland
  • Style: Saison
  • ABV: 4.7 %
  • Size: 500 ml
  • Bought from: –
  • Not on Beer Advocate
  • Not on RateBeer

Today it’s time to try a homebrewed Saison that I got from my colleague Ilkka. I’ve tried some really interesting beers from Ilkka before, and this one sounds very interesting on paper as well. The malt bill consists of pilsner malt, flaked spelt and flaked buckwheat. The original gravity was 1.042, while the final gravity is 1.004, giving it an ABV of 4.7%. It has been single hopped with Sorachi Ace to 25 IBU. I’m a bit skeptical towards Sorachi Ace, as I haven’t tried that many beers hopped with it that I’ve liked, but hopefully its hop aromas stay in the background in this beer. The beer has been fermented with Wyeast’s French Saison 3711 yeast, and also oak with some oak chips for 15 days. There seems to be a lot going on in this, and it will be very interesting to taste it! The beer was brewed in the end of May, so is approximately 7 months old.

[easyreview title=”Ilkka’s Grainy Day” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours with a brilliant golden yellow color, and there is just a slight amount of haze. A fluffy white head is formed as well, but it collapses quite quickly leaving some spots of lacing along the glass. A nice appearance!” cat1rating=”4″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The aroma is surprisingly sweet, featuring a candy-like sweetness combined with some spicy yeast notes. Luckily I can’t detect any of the dill tones you can sometimes get from Sorachi Ace hops. There is a slight presence of citrus as well. A nice and quite ‘easy going’ aroma.” cat2rating=”4″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”At first the beer gives off a sweet impression, with an initial hit of honey-like graininess. Quickly however, the flavor becomes drier, more spicy and fruity, with typical yeast products. The beer features some lemon and citrus flavors as well, which works well with the spiciness. The beer finishes dry and with a slight bitterness. I’m unsure what the spelt and buckwheat brought to the beer, but there is something in the aftertaste I can’t really chart, and could be from the speciality grains. I like that the flavor isn’t overly spicy and yeasty, which some saisons seem to be, and rather there is quite a lot of fruitiness present as well. I also can’t really detect any oakiness, but I guess its subtleness adds to the whole experience.” cat3rating=”4″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The body is light and the carbonation level is medium high. The beer is very refreshing, and would be very suitable for a hot summer day. The spicy notes leave a slight bite, but otherwise a very nice drinkability.” cat4rating=”3.5″ summary=”Overall this was very nice beer! Especially for one being only 4.7%. I wouldn’t mind buying it from the supermarkets here in Finland. The spiciness, fruitiness and apparent sweetness work well together, while the dry finish and light body give it great drinkability. Thanks for the beer! Really looking forward to trying the other beers I got from Ilkka!”]

Beer Tasting Evening

I organized another beer tasting event together with a couple of friends (Kimmo, Marcus L. and Marcus N.) yesterday, and this time we tasted through a total of 21 different beers (we had 24 beers total, but didn’t taste through them all). Out of the 21 beers, 8 were homebrews (one of my own, two from Marcus L., and five that our Swedish friend Ingo had sent us; Thanks for them!). Most of the beers were fantastic and we had a great time. We also had some tasty homemade hamburgers and potato wedges to fill out stomachs between the beers (thanks Marcus L. and Marcus N. for making them!). Here is a picture of the whole line-up:

The line-up included:
Back row, left to right: Cigar City Jai Alai, St. Feuillien Saison, Black Isle Goldeneye Pale Ale (not tasted), La Trappe Witte (not tasted), Southern Tier Iniquity, Green Flash Imperial IPA, Bear Republic Big Bear Black Stout, Southern Tier Backburner, Norrebro Pacific Summer Ale, De Molen Hemel & Aarde, Brewdog IPA is Dead – Galaxy, Brewdog IPA is Dead – Challenger, Brewdog IPA is Dead – Motueka, Brewdog IPA is Dead – HBC, Brewdog Hardcore IPA (not tasted), Brewdog DogA.

Front row, left to right: “1 AM” – British Yeast, “1 AM” – American Yeast, Citra IPA (mine), Slinka V IPA, PMX II – Sällskapsporter, PraktPretto II – Ale, Slinka V IPA (again), Zum Zum, Grabthar’s Hammer – Imperial India Pale Ale.

We began the evening by trying out Brewdog’s IPA is Dead series:

The beers poured with a similar golden-amber color and a slight white head that left some lacing. The Galaxy version was slightly hazier than the rest of the bunch. The Challenger version featured an earthy, grassy and slightly citrusy aroma, that pulled my mind towards ‘English’-style ales directly. The flavor was the least hoppy of the bunch, and you could get tones of caramel, toasted malt and red berries, along with the earthy and herby hoppiness. The Galaxy version had an aroma featuring tones of mango, passion fruit and grapefruit. The flavor was similar, featuring strong tones of grapefruit, citrus, resin and some tropical fruits. The bitterness of the Galaxy version felt the harshest and most present. The HBC version also featured tones of tropical fruits (mango) in the aroma, but had more of a grassy feel. The flavor felt the sweetest of the four beers, and featured tones of citrus, currants and some grassiness. The Motueka version featured tones of dill and lemon in the aroma, and it reminded me a bit of the tones you get from the Sorachi Ace hop. The flavor contained some tones of tropical fruits alongside the lemon which was present in the aroma already. The beers all had a medium body and a medium-low carbonation level. My favorite of the bunch was the Galaxy version.

Next up was a foursome of homebrews (My Citra IPA, and Ingo’s Slinka V IPA, Zum Zum and PraktPretto II):

Again the beers had a similar appearance, all being slightly hazy, having colors in the golden-amber range and having white to off-white heads. The Citra IPA featured tones of passion fruits, lychee, mango and some alcohol in the aroma. The flavor began slightly sweet, with honey-like tones, which are joined by hop tones of tropical fruits. The finish is quite smooth and with some bitterness. The beer had a medium body and medium carbonation level. Slinka V IPA featured tones of caramel and ‘fruity bubblegum’ in the aroma. The flavor was quite different, moving towards resiny and earthy hop flavors, and a bitter finish. The beer had a medium body and low carbonation level. Zum Zum was a little strange, as according to the label it should have been a beer with a low IBU but loads of hops (I was expecting a beer in the style of an American Pale Ale), but it felt more like a Hefeweizen. Both the aroma and flavor was dominated by spicy phenols, some banana and yeastiness, which are typical of the Hefeweizen-style. The beer had a light body and a medium carbonation level. I wonder if this was infected? PraktPretto II (an English Ale, hopped with EK Goldings, 5.9%, 30 IBU, 1.055->1.010) featured earthy and grassy tones in the aroma, and it felt very true to the style. There was some cherry in the aroma as well. The began with a sweet maltiness, that was joined by some earthiness. The flavors were well balanced. The beer had a medium-light body and a medium carbonation level. This was my favorite of these three Ingo beers.

After this it was time to try two of Alko’s summer beers, St. Feuillien Saison and Norrebro Pacific Summer Ale, and Marcus L.’s two homebrews (the same Amber Ale base, but fermented with S-04 and US-05):

The saison poured golden-yellow with a fluffy white head. The aroma was mostly spicy (Belgian yeast tones), with some slight citrus. The flavor was quite light, with the same spicyness from the aroma and a dry finish. The body was light and carbonation level was medium-high. Refreshing summer beer. The Norrebro Pacific Summer Ale poured golden-amber, with a minimal white head. The aroma contained tones of caramelly malt, honey, and a slight fruity hoppiness. The flavor was similarly malt-dominated, with bready and caramelly flavors dominating, with a slight grassy hoppiness in the background. The finish was quite dry with not much bitterness. The body was medium-light with a medium carbonation level. The “1 AM” ales were amber colored, with slight off-white heads and a oily texture. Both beers had a caramelly and malty aroma, with the British version having some red berries in the aroma as well, while the American version had some ‘dishcloth’ tones as well. Both beers were quite bland in flavor, featuring mostly maltiness and some sour undertones. Both beers had a light body and medium carbonation level. Both were probably passed their prime unfortunately.

After this we started to get hungry, so we cooked up some burgers and potato wedges. While cooking we enjoyed Cigar City’s Jai Alai IPA (unfortunately no picture or tasting notes, but see this post from when I tried it last), full-packed with citrusy hoppiness. After dinner we moved to the heavier beers, and poured up Ingo’s Grabthar’s Hammer (9%, 101 IBU, 1.086->1.018, Amarillo, Riwaka, Cascade, Chinook, and Summer hops), Green Flash Imperial IPA, Southern Tier Iniquity and Southern Tier Backburner:

Grabthar’s Hammer poured with a hazy amber color and a white head. The aroma featured tones of sweet tropical fruits, citrus and slight alcohol (the aroma was similar to his Slinka V IPA). The flavor began with a sweet maltiness, that is joined by tones of tropical fruits and citrus. The finish is quite sweet with a huge bitterness. There are slight solvent tones present as well. The beer has a medium body and medium-low carbonation level. Green Flash Imperial IPA poured with a golden color and a really fluffy and large white head, that collapsed leaving tons of lacing. The aroma featured a sweet citrusy and herby tone, that felt really familiar, but that none of us could pinpoint. Maybe it was tangerine, which Summit hops are known for. The flavor was dominated by hoppy tones of resin and lemon, and the finish was quite sweet and bitter. The beer had a medium body and medium carbonation level. Southern Tier Iniquity (Black IPA) poured very dark brown (almost black), with a off-white head. The aroma contained tones of roasted malt, spices and a slight hoppiness. The flavor began with some roasted tones and caramel, and it was joined by some resiny hop tones and a bitter finish. The beer had a medium body and medium carbonation level. Southern Tier Backburner (Barleywine) poured with a dark amber color, and a slight off-white head was formed. The aroma was nutty, malty and caramelly, and the flavor was similar. The flavor was dominated by very sweet caramelly tones, together with a nutty maltiness and a slightly bitter finish. The beer had a full body and a medium-low carbonation level.

The final beers of the evening were the Imperial Stouts and Porter. Brewdog’s Dog A, De Molen Hemel & Aarde, Bear Republic Big Bear Black Stout and Ingo’s PMX II Sällskapsporter (6.8%, 30 IBU, Magnum, EK Goldings, 1.062->1.010). Fortunately I had read warning notes on the internet about opening the Hemel & Aarde, as when we opened it in the kitchen sink, 75% of the contents came out in a beer fountain.

Dog A poured pitch black with a minimal tan head. The aroma featured tones of roasted malt, coffee, chocolate and some fruitiness from the chili. The flavor was intensive, featuring roasted malt, coffee, caramel, chocolate and some warming chili tones. The beer had a full body and a surprising amount of carbonation (medium level). It was very drinkable already, but I think it will improve with some aging. Hemel & Aarde was a bit hard to comment on, because of the small amount of beer that remained for tasting. It was also pitch black and no head was formed during pour. The aroma was full of smokey whisky tones and some roastiness. The flavor was similar. The beer had a full body and low carbonation level. Shame about the gusher, since it would have been nice to try more of this beer. The Big Bear Black Stout poured pitch black with a cream-colored head. The aroma was quite light compared to the previous two beers, and it featured tones of roasted malt and coffee. The flavor was also surprisingly light, with roasted tones of coffee and chocolate. A slight tartness was present as well. The beer had a medium body and medium carbonation level. The Sällskapsporter also tried to come out of the bottle when opening, so it poured with a black color and a massive cream-colored head that collapsed quite quickly. The aroma was quite light, with some roasted malt and coffee, together with a slight sourness. The flavor was mostly roasted malts, with a very dry finish and slight bitterness. The body was medium-light with a medium-high carbonation level. I wonder if this was infected as well?

Overall I’m very happy with the evening, as there were some fantastic beers. Personal favorites were Brewdog IPA is Dead Galaxy, Cigar City’s Jai Alai, Green Flash Imperial IPA and Brewdog Dog A.