Real Fermenting: Ginger Citrus Saison

Friday, 15 August 2014

Ginger Citrus Saison

This saison recipe is part II of my five part series on hop-free ales. I have already transferred the ale to secondary and it smells fantastic. It's also my second attempt at ageing an ale on oak chips. This time I have soaked the french oak on some chardonnay, to replicate the effect of barrel-ageing in a chardonnay barrel. We'll have to see how well that goes, but the recipe for the main brew is below.

Definitely don't store your soaking oak chips in the sun...


For 3 gallons of ale:
2lbs dry malt extract (light)
2lbs liquid malt extract (wheat)
1lb Carapils (crushed)
1oz yarrow
1oz lemon peel
1oz sweet orange peel
1oz dry ginger pieces
1 vial Belgian Saison I yeast
3 gallons distilled water
2oz french oak chips
2/3 cup chardonnay

Boiling the yarrow
For a fuller description of good brewing practices see my post on the Holiday Wit or John Palmer's How to Brew or any intro guide to brewing. Boil the yarrow in 2 quarts of water for 30 minutes. While this is boiling, steep the crushed grains in 2.5 gallons of water (160F) for 30 minutes in your main kettle. Remove the crushed grains from the steeping water and add the herb decoction (straining out the yarrow) to the main kettle. Bring all of this to the boil. Turn off the heat and add both of the malt extracts and stir until they dissolve. Boil again for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the citrus peel and ginger. Cool the wort to 70F as fast as you can. Add the wort to your fermenter and stir the yeast in vigorously for a couple of minutes to oxygenate the wort. Seal up the wort in your fermenter and fill the airlock with vodka. At this time your can start soaking your oak chips in the wine in a sealed container. You may steam or boil the chips if you are concerned about infection. I didn't bother.

After one week in the fermenter, I transferred the ale to my secondary fermenter and added the oak chips and the wine. This will sit for at least 2 weeks, when I will begin tasting for the oakiness. When it's good, I'll bottle with 1/2 cup of corn sugar.

The next brew in the series is an aromatic Spice Stout. I've brewed it already and it filled my home with an amazing aroma while I was brewing it. That'll age with bourbon soaked American oak chips to replicate the effects of ageing in a used bourbon barrel. Very excited to see how all these brews turn out. The first one should be ready to try in late September!

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