My birthday is just a couple weeks away. What would be the best self-gift for my impending 26th? My own beer of course! Last weekend I had the pleasure of brewing what is currently being called “Saison 26″ with my good friend Theo.
This beer was brewed differently than all the others I’ve homebrewed so far. Theo has a much different brewing system than the others that I’ve used, and we made this beer “all-grain” style.
Think of it like this: Brewing all-grain is like making a cake completely from scratch. You start with a bag of fresh-ground grains, lots of water and hops instead of packets of pre-made ingredients. All grain is the method professional breweries use, just on a much larger scale. The other times I’ve brewed I’ve made extract beer – the equivalent of making a cake from a boxed mix. This all-grain process took us six hours from start to finish as opposed to the less than three hours it took brewing using extract.
My favorite part of brewing all-grain style was learning a lot more about how beer is actually made from the ground up. I’ve talked before about the process of brewing and what all it entails, but this really gave me the chance to dive deeper into the process and learn more.
For example, I learned how important it is that when the grains are mashed that both the kernel and the husk are used. The kernel holds the sugars and the husk acts as a filter. I liked tasting the grains as they were made into wort. They changed in flavor from oatmeal to virtually no flavor at all. I got to add a beaker of yeast to my beer before we put it in the fermenter like it was a science experiment! Needless to say I loved it.
I decided to go with a saison because it’s a style of beer I’m really starting to get into. Saisons, or farmhouse ales, were traditionally made and stored in farmhouses during the winter months with the intent of drinking them in the summer months. They are usually light and crisp with a dry finish. Some can be peppery, some are fruity, some are even tart, but generally all saisons have a nice refreshing flavor.
Geek stats: We used perle hops as well as saaz to create a 26 IBU beer. We also added in some orange blossom honey for additional flavor and to speed up fermentation. The final beer should be around 7% ABV.
CATEGORIES: Craft Beer