Author Topic: Allagash Confluence Ale  (Read 1739 times)

Offline Laminarman

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Allagash Confluence Ale
« on: January 09, 2017, 09:40:43 PM »
I am a newbie, just bottled my first extract recipe now waiting for it to mature a few weeks before testing it.  Already thinking of my next batch and I'd like to try steeping some grains.  I am in love with Allagash Confluence which I believe is considered a Belgian Pale Ale.  I can't seem to find a clone recipe anywhere and not sure if I can make something in this style with the equipment I have.  There are SOOOOOO many full grain recipes to choose from though in this style (I'm going to get pulled in aren't I???).  Any help or recipe links are appreciated if anyone has had this beer.  I love those biscuit and toasty notes and it says it has brett if that helps at all.

Offline Bob357

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Re: Allagash Confluence Ale
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2017, 10:39:42 PM »
You might want to get some brewing experience under your belt before trying a mixed fermentation beer. Also some reading up on the subject. Here's a link to an article that discusses Mixed fermentation using Brett specifically.

 http://www.themadfermentationist.com/2008/06/all-about-brettanomyces.html

It should give you an idea of what sort of process and time frame you're looking at for this style. Good luck and have fun as the hobby reels you in.
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Offline Laminarman

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Re: Allagash Confluence Ale
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2017, 12:44:15 AM »
Thanks for the link Bob.  Maybe I'll just stick to a regular old pale ale for a bit : ( 

Offline erockrph

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Re: Allagash Confluence Ale
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2017, 01:10:21 AM »
Thanks for the link Bob.  Maybe I'll just stick to a regular old pale ale for a bit : (
Trust me, it will be worth it for you in the end. Something in the style of Confluence is definitely best for an advanced brewer. Not only are you dealing with a mixed fermentation, but you'd be best served growing up a pitch of yeast from a bottle of Confluence. As far as I'm aware, Allagash's house yeast and Brett strains aren't available commercially and they're what primarily drives the flavor of this beer.

Be patient and get your technique down over a few more batches. Then come back and post in the "Yeast and Fermentation" board and we'll walk you through the basics of growing up yeast from bottle dregs.
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer

Offline Laminarman

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Re: Allagash Confluence Ale
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2017, 02:01:52 AM »
Thank you Eric.  I'm reading all I can with the time I have.  There is a LOT more to learn than I thought since the last time I made a home brew 25 years ago with a can of "stuff" and a packet of yeast taped to the lid.  It was awful.  Don't know what made me try this again at my advanced age of 52, but what the heck??  Thanks again.

Offline lindak

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Re: Allagash Confluence Ale
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2017, 12:15:22 AM »
I was also brewing 25 years ago--  I stopped because life got in the way.   After being back at it for about 2 years-- I just started a mixed fermentation batch.  There is so much more information-- that is easily available-- that if you really have the time and interest you can work your way up to trying to make your version of a Confluence at some point.   You may need additional experience and additional equipment, but the journey is fun. 

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Allagash Confluence Ale
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2017, 05:29:02 PM »
It's not a terribly complicated beer to make and the Allagash website gives a lot of details. The issues are working with brett and the time involved in the beer. When brewing with brett you need to be twice as careful about regulating oxygen exposure and thrice as careful about sanitation.

There are plenty of non-brett Belgian pale ales you could brew while you learn about brett and dealing with it in your brewhouse.
Heck yeah I blog about homebrewing: Brain Sparging on Brewing

Offline Franklin

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Re: Allagash Confluence Ale
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2017, 09:05:35 PM »
Firstly - I agree with what others have said about this being better to save for after you've got a few brews under your belt and feel more comfortable with yeast management, sanitation, etc. That being said – It’ll be worth your time to cut your teeth on the clean base beer before pitching the Brettanomyces. You’ll still end up with a solid saison. This is one of my favorite beers of all time, and a recipe I have been working on for a while; It’s actually next on my list. I live about a mile and a half from Allagash and am pretty spoiled with having access to their smaller batches (this is important in a moment). Here is what I’ve come up with so far.

Grain:
Allagash lists the OG as 1.063 and an abv of 7.4% (this means a target FG of about 1.006). We know that they use a blend of 2-row, pilsner, and ‘caramel malt’. This is enough to determine a reasonable grain bill:

Assuming a 5g all-grain batch at ~70% efficiency (can convert to extract later if needed)
o   10# of American 2-row
o   3# of Belgian Pilsner
o   0.5# Belgian Carapils

This grain bill will give us the correct OG at 70% efficiency, and an SRM of about 4.5 which is in the ballpark BUT I’ll probably boil for 90 minutes which will darken the wort a bit more, allow for some sweeter flavors to come through the dryness of this beer.

EDIT: You could replace the 2-row with non-hopped Light DME and the Pilsner with either the same, or non-hopped Pilsen DME. Make sure you enter the replacements into a brewing calculator like brewers friend to tarted the 1.063 OG. You can steep the Carapils or possibly 0.5# cara20 for more color. Someone might be able to better help with this conversion.

Hops:
Allagash also lists their hops as Glacier and Tettnang but they do not list the IBU. It’s been a couple months since I picked up a bottle but I would guess 40-50 IBU. I’m thinking a bittering charge of either hop variety, as well as a 30 minute and 10-minute addition. They do dry-hop with Glacier (I’d say probably 2oz for a 5 gal batch.

Yeast:
Now here is why living near the brewery is helpful – Confluence is fermented with their house yeast and their house Brett strain (they had it cultured from an accidental infection in the first batch of Interlude). Neither the house yeast or Brett strain are commercially available. A few times a year they release a beer called Little Brett at limited distribution. This is fermented 100% with their house strain. I cultured some dregs from those bottles and as a result have a reliable source of their house Brett. Now, the way they pitch it is just as, if not more, important that their exact strain. In the book American Sour Beers (by Michael Tonsmire aka The Mad Fermentationist) the author outlines the fermentation process for Confluence – Rather than pitching a primary strain and then the Brett afterwards, they pitch a very large and healthy dose of Brett at the same time as their house yeast. This is what results in the specific balance in fruity/funky flavors from the Brett. They ferment it out for about 9 months before dry-hopping and packaging. For this beer I would recommend using a commercial pitch of B. clausenii for similar flavors if you don’t have access to one of their 100% Brett beers. Make sure that you use a big pitch of Brett and a saison strain that you like (Wyeast 3711 is VERY easy to work with, but I love the flavors from 3724)

That’s what I’ve got so far and I recommend giving it a shot! Try it with just clean saison yeast first until you gain a bit more experience. This will help keep other batches you brew from getting contaminated, help you dial in saison brewing, and nail the base recipe before investing the money and 9-12 months of your time. I plan to do something similar – I brew 10 gallon batches so I am going to split it into two 5gallon fermenters and half will get the Brett, and half will stay as a clean, confluence inspired saison.

Good luck!
« Last Edit: February 15, 2017, 09:07:55 PM by Franklin »

Offline Laminarman

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Re: Allagash Confluence Ale
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2017, 01:34:25 AM »
Holy Crap Franklin. You're way over my head but I can follow it dude!!!  I love it.  I am just getting into this at my "old age" and wish I'd started sooner.  There's a LOT to learn.  Thank you!  I think the wife and I are taking the drive up to Portland soon just to get away, have some beers and be in Maine...my favorite place. 

Offline Franklin

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Re: Allagash Confluence Ale
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2017, 02:28:06 AM »
Don't worry, it won't be over your head for long. Like you said there is a lot to learn, but the information is insanely easy to come by and it's a pretty awesome community. If you haven't checked them out yet, two great resources are the books How to Brew, and Brewing Classic Styles. Listen to the Beersmith podcast, Basic Brewing Radio, and hang out around the forums (here, homebrew talk, r/homebrewing on reddit).

As far as research into Confluence goes - a great first step is learning to brew a saison that you like to drink. I had good results with three different saison extract kits from Northern Brewer. I haven't tried Brewers Best saison kits yet, but had good results with a few of their other offerings.

When you make it up to Maine be sure to hit Allagash; they give you a free flight for walking in the door. There are also three other breweries, literally, across the street!

Offline gordonmonaghan

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Re: Allagash Confluence Ale
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2018, 03:59:27 PM »
Late arrival here. I emailed the brewery about yeast and dry hops and this is what they replied with:

There are two cultures in the bottle: one is our house Brett and the other is an Abbey-Style strain we use for refermentation.

We dry hop at a rate of about 0.5 pounds/bbl.  Or 0.25 oz/gallon.


Hope that helps, if you're still interested in Confluence.

Offline Lazy Ant Brewing

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Re: Allagash Confluence Ale
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2018, 12:50:46 PM »
Thank you Eric.  I'm reading all I can with the time I have.  There is a LOT more to learn than I thought since the last time I made a home brew 25 years ago with a can of "stuff" and a packet of yeast taped to the lid.  It was awful.  Don't know what made me try this again at my advanced age of 52, but what the heck??  Thanks again.

You mentioned disappointing results with "the can of stuff and packet of yeast."  I started brewing at 67 years of age after a friend gave me a bottle of  so-called octoberfest (actually brewed as an ale instead of a lager) from a MR Beer kit.  It tasted so much better to me than the commercial p**s and p**s lite that is mostly all you can find in many restaurants and taverns locally; I was hooked!  I made two more batches of it and then got into all grain. 

It's easier to read brewing books and get information from the forum than to sacrifice virgins to appease the brewing gods when bad beer happens!