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As a class project I am brewing a beer for a competition.  The winner will have the beer produced by a regional brewery.

My entry will be a Saison featuring Belma hops.  I referenced a book called the Flavor Bible to see what spices complemented the dominant flavors of Belma (Strawberry. melon, orange), and came up with Lemon and Ginger as complimenting all three.

So my question is, how much lemon zest and ginger root should I use for a 5 gallon batch.  I'm not looking for a spice beer, just something that adds complexity and interest.  As a side note black or white pepper were also complimentary!

I'm also looking for input in any other way, so here is the basic recipe.The following amounts are for a ten gallon batch.  Five gallons for me, five for my project partner who will do different things on the cold side.

7 lbs Belgian 2 row
7 lbs Belgian Wheat malt
1 lb. crystal 10
8 oz. Caramunich (56 SRM)
1.5 lbs. Honey
2 oz. Belma in the mash
1 oz. Styrian Goldings 60 min.
4 oz. Belma 5 min.
6 oz. Belma hopstand for ~30 min.
4 oz. Belma Dry hop for 7 days
Wyeast 3711 French Saison yeast

This will result, according to BeerSmith, in:
5.5% ABV
33 IBU
5.6 SRM

Thank you for your help.

My initial impression of the recipe poses the question, how will the judges think that is a saison rather than something like an american pale, etc.?

In any case, I would strongly suggest splitting your batch into a few different carboys.  That way, you could parallel-ferment a portion with say WLP565 (the Dupont strain) or WLP550 (pretty spicy) to accompany and perhaps counterbalance your uniquely fruity hopload.

I would also recommend portioning when you do your spice addition.  As you probably know, both lemon and ginger are dominant spices and can easily be overdone.  Adding your spices to only a portion of your total batch would lend great flexibility as well as insurance.  If you found the additions excessive, you could blend in a portion of the unspiced beer, or simply try a different level of spice addition to an unadulterated portion.


--- Quote from: mugwort on January 20, 2013, 01:08:10 AM ---My initial impression of the recipe poses the question, how will the judges think that is a saison rather than something like a pale, etc.?

--- End quote ---

First, thank you for your input.  Is it the hop load that has you asking this question, or a grain issue?  If it is the hop load, I have never brewed with Blema before, but in my reading, several have said it is light in the flavor area, so I loaded the flavor additions.

My main thinking about the Saison identity is the yeast, the light body, acidity, and lower ABV - but mainly the yeast.  How can I make it more true to style?  I do want it to be a Saison, just putting a unique spin on it.  Thanks!

Mark G:
That's a pretty heavy dose of hops for a Saison. I haven't tried Belma hops yet, so it's hard for me to say what I think is the right level. Maybe someone else who has tried them could comment further.

If you're trying to stay true to style, you might want to consider dropping the crystal/caramel malts. You want this beer to have a bone-dry impression.

First and foremost, this looks like a damn tasty beer. I commend you on the amount of hops you're stuffing in here. This looks like how I'd approach a Saison, which means this will probably do lousy at the judges table :P

For a competition, I think you really need to focus on drinkability first and foremost in a Saison. Crisp, and dry and spicy yeast first, then hops and spices will work as background notes. I'd cut the late hops to a quarter of what you have.

I leave suggestions for amounts of ginger and lemon zest to those with experience, but I'd recommend either making a tincture of each and dosing to taste at bottling, or adding them in bags in secondary and pulling them once the flavor intensity hits the level you're shooting for.


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