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Old 10-05-2013, 03:17 AM   #1
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Default 50% bier de saison kit, 50% all-grain

I have a seasonal bier de saison refill from Mr. Beer, for making two gallons of beer. It consists of a can of HME, and a packet of Lallemand belle saison yeast. And oh yes, a little packet of sanitizer.

The spec's are ABV: 6.5%, SRM: 5, IBU: 30.

I'm planning to do an all-grain mash for another two gallons, combine the resulting wort with the wort made from the kit, and go for 4 gallons of beer. Ingredients for the mash:

2 lb pilsner malt
1 lb wheat malt
1 lb wheat, raw
2 oz Mt Hood hop pellets

Since I'm a relative noob, I was hoping to get away with a one hour, single-stage infusion mash at about 150-155 degrees. And since I'm using pilsner malt I'm thinking of a 90-minute boil, with one oz of Mt Hood added an hour before the end and the other oz added ten minutes before it's done.

I've put together a fermenter from a mini-fridge, a ceramic heat element, and an STC-1000 dual-stage controller, so I should have decent temperature control for the fermentation. Unfortunately a 6.5 gal carboy won't fit in my little rig, so I'll be using a 5-gal carboy. And since I'm using a belle saison yeast, I assume I should hook up a good blow-off instead of an air lock, set the temp's on the warm side, and let'er rip...

Does all that sound reasonable? Does it sound unreasonable? Does it sound like I'm out of my ever-lovin', blue-eyed mind?

One more thing: people recommend adding rice hulls when using wheat, but I don't have any. Is that going to be a serious problem? I figure on a two-gallon batch I can fight any stuck-mash problems with a good stirring spoon.

Of course, the answer to that may depend on what sort of setup I'm going to use for lautering. And I won't know until I put one together tomorrow. The simplest idea I've seen is one food-grade 5 gal bucket inside another one, with the upper bucket having umpteen holes drilled in its bottom and the lower one equipped with a spigot. Or I could do one bucket, with a copper manifold and spigot. Or an ice chest or water cooler...

Or should I just use a bag in a water cooler and forget the fancy stuff for now, since I'm only doing two gallons?

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Old 10-05-2013, 03:35 AM   #2
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BIAB is great. And no worries about a stuck sparge. Sounds like you know your options pretty well.

No idea about your recipe/mix, btw.

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Old 10-05-2013, 01:08 PM   #3
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You talked me into it; I've decided to go with BIAB for this little batch.

I've spent enough just putting together a fermenter to squeeze my budget... looks like I'll be heading to Home Depot or Lowe's for a 5 gallon paint strainer bag. Could still use some opinions and advice on my recipe and procedures, though.

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Old 10-05-2013, 01:20 PM   #4
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Don't mash so high for a saison, mash 148 or even better 146, especially if you're using extract.

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Old 10-05-2013, 02:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigRob View Post
Don't mash so high for a saison, mash 148 or even better 146, especially if you're using extract.
Thanks for the feedback. I just did a little google search, and that seems to be common practice for a saison. Dunno how I missed it when I was reading up on the style... I guess that's one of the hazards of being an internet instant expert.
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Old 10-09-2013, 03:25 AM   #6
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OK, think I have a game plan here. I'll do the all-grain portion in a bag in a small cooler, adding water if necessary to hold the proper temps. Towards the end I'll heat more water to sparging temp's. When I pull the bag from the cooler, I'll swish it in the kettle. That should get me a little more efficiency....

Then I'll pour the contents of the cooler into the kettle, set the bag to drip above it, and do my boil. At the end of the boil I'll add water from a second kettle (if necessary) to give me my full four gallons, and add my HME per Mr. Beer's instructions (bring water to a boil, turn off heat, add HME). I assume the bittering hops have already done their job in the extract, and boiling after the extract is added would just wipe out the finishing hops in the HME. Hopefully, their hops will get along with the Mt. Hood hops I'm using on the all-grain side....

Since I'm only dealing with 4 gallons, I think I can get away with sticking the kettle in ice water to cool it down. I'll be at a deep outdoor sink, and I get all the ice I want free. From there I can siphon the wort into my carboy, pitch my yeast, and hopefully I'm on my way to beer.

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Old 10-13-2013, 06:01 AM   #7
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Got it done today. I did the mash in the small plastic ice chest in a bag, as planned. After adding the strike water to the grain and stirring, the temperature was 148* F. I let it set for 90 minutes, and it was 143*F when I opened it up.... I'm impressed. I had no idea the thin-walled little cooler would hold heat like that.

I wound up doing the AG boil in one kettle, and the extract in another. I boiled the AG wort for ninety minutes - adding some of the hops half an hour into it, and the rest 10 minutes before the end. I was planning to split the hops in half but did a lousy job of it, so about 2/3d's went into the bittering portion. I just tied the hops into paint strainer bags, and that seemed to work fine.

I forgot to bring a siphon tube, so I cleaned and sanitized an unused plastic funnel I had in my pickup cab. Pouring the two batches through the funnel into the carboy aerated them thoroughly, I think.....

it's all pitched and put to bed now. I've set the temperature for 68*F; as soon as I start seeing some action I may raise it. Does anyone have any recommendations on how far and how fast to let the temperature come up?

Oh - my hydrometer was setting on my desk beside the siphon tubing, so I didn't get an O.G. so much for making a list and checking it twice...

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Old 10-13-2013, 03:41 PM   #8
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That Belle Saison dried yeast is some hardworking stuff. I rehydrated and pitched an 11 gram packet of it into my 4 gallons of wort 16 hours ago, and I have a solid inch and a half of krausen already. I'm getting a healthey bubble through the airlock about every two seconds; I may wind up replacing it with a blow-off tube before I head to work tonight. And I think I'll wait a bit before raising the temperature...

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Old 10-13-2013, 04:02 PM   #9
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I think the Belle Saison yeast rules.

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Old 12-07-2013, 06:32 PM   #10
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Update on this batch: I followed my LHBS owner's advice on the amount of hops to use, and I don't think he understood the extract from Mr. Beer was hopped.

The beer has been bottled for a month now, and I'm drinking some of it. Actually pretty good stuff, but a hop bomb. Lots of bitterness and a big hoppy finish....

A guy I work with is a big fan of Arrogant Bastard ale, so I gave him a bottle of this to try. He came back and said he'll take as much of it as I'm willing to let go of.

I'm not sure I like his chances of getting more... he forgot to bring back my bottle.

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