And now, an overdue homebrewing update!
As mentioned earlier, the plan for the summer is to make a series of saisons, as saison yeasts work well in warmer temperatures. All the beers will be named after various species of magpies, since the first beer I ever brewed was dubbed the “Magpie Saison” by one of Martha’s coworkers.The first saison of the summer was the Yellow-billed Magpie, which was a pretty straightforward saison. Pilsner malt, pale wheat malt, biscuit malt, dry malt extract, clear candi syrup and Willamette whole-leaf hops. Started out at 1.051 and fermented down to 1.006 with the Wyeast French Saison yeast (3711, in case you’re really into Wyeast strains). Turned out quite tasty, and I’m looking forward to tapping a wombat of this later in the week.
The second saison is the Korean Magpie Saison, which was the exact same recipe as the Yellow-billed Magpie with the addition of fresh ginger, pink peppercorn and orange peel at the end of the boil. Bottled it yesterday. The gravity sample tasted significantly drier than the first saison, with the spiciness of the ginger becoming quite apparent once it warmed up a bit. This should be interesting when carbonated.
The third saison is the Black-billed Magpie Saison, which is a black saison, as the name suggests. Two-row barley, biscuit malt, Special B, Carafa II Special, pale wheat malt, a little bit of chocolate malt, and extra dark Belgian candi syrup, plus Willamette and Delta leaf hops. Jet black in color, with an original gravity of 1.056, so potentially slightly stronger than the first two beers. Tasted it for the first time today, and my initial impression was that I could skip the chocolate malt next time around. Of course, a couple more weeks of conditioning and carbonation will make a considerable difference in the experience.Last week, one of my coworkers asked me what price I would ask to guarantee a bottle of everything I make. He said I should consider both the cost of ingredients and my time, and ended up giving me twenty bucks to guarantee that he gets a bottle of everything I brew this summer. While thinking about brewing on a recent run, I figured I’d take those twenty bucks and invest them in a 3-gallon carboy so I could play around with splitting batches for secondary fermentation. And so it is with the Black-billed Magpie. One gallon is being dry-hopped with Delta hops, one gallon is spending a couple months in a bottle with the dregs of a bottle of Russian River’s Supplication (a sour brown ale aged on cherries) in the hopes that it will pick up a bit of funky sour character, and the other three gallons are conditioning normally.
Up next, the European Magpie Saison, which will be the exact same recipe as the Yellow-billed Magpie, but will use the Wyeast Belgian Saison yeast instead of the French Saison yeast. The Belgian saison strain is supposed to do well in temperatures up to 95F, which seems fitting for the NYC summer. Plus it makes for a perfect opportunity to experience the difference a yeast makes in the same recipe.