Often my inspiration for a recipe comes from odd places; this recipe started at GABF last year. The good folks at WYeast gave me a certificate for a free smack pack, and while grateful, I completely forgot about it. Around a month ago i was going through a stack of papers, and found the certificate, which was expiring at the end of the year. My regular LHBS only carries White Labs, but we do have another LHBS in town that stocks WYeast. Now White Labs and WYeast have mostly the same strains, but there are a few that are exclusive. One which White Labs simply doesn’t have an equal for is 3711.
3711 is really interesting strain, as it attenuates like few do. I pretty much slapped a recipe together for a farmhouse ale on a whim, so that I could try this yeast. The one hop that jumped out at me for this beer was Belma. Belma is a new strain from Hops Direct that I previously used on a recent Stout. It’s fruity, a little citrusy, and sort of funky, which sounded perfect for a saison. Not one to shy away from hops, I decided to toss a little Citra at this beer as well.
Saison was the loose style I was shooting for, although I’m not strictly keeping to it. I’m using 2-row as a base malt out of laziness, and throwing in some Munich and Wheat for complexity. The gravity for this beer is also targeted much lower than a typical saison. Partially because 3711 attenuates so well, and partially because I wanted a lighter beer. Citra is also out of place in the traditional sense, but it should play very nicely with the yeast-derived esters.
I did get a new toy this week! With more 10 gallon batches, I’ve needed a larger vessel for making starters. I finally broke down an bought a (massive) 5,000ml flask. Pictures don’t quite do justice to how large this thing is, but I put a SNPA bottle next to it for reference. Anyway, on Wednesday, I whipped up a 1.5L starter. My little 1″ stir bar isn’t ideal for this sized flask, but it did a fine job of keeping everything spinning.
6oz Acid Malt
Mash @ 153*
11g Apollo @ 60
1oz Belma @ 10
0.5oz ea Belma/Citra @ 0
WYeast 3711 – French Saison Yeast
I had Friday off work, so I squeezed this batch in before all the family came into town for Christmas. FYI, I use Acid malt in every pale beer I brew, typically 2% of the grist. I wanted a little more twang in this beer, so I doubled the amount I would typically use to 4%. If you don’t normally use Acid malt to adjust mash pH, use 3oz. If you do, double your typical addition. Very relaxing brew day. I woke up early, made some delicious coffee and got going. (Quick side note about coffee: We ordered a couple pounds from this guy, and it’s absolutely amazing.) The mornings are definitely cooling off, as 33* felt pretty chilly for me. After throwing on a hoodie, I got to work. I mashed for 60min, sparged quick, and a boiled for 60min as well. I’m still getting used to my new boil off rates, as I came in a little high on the gravity (was shooting for 1.046). I pitched a 1.5L starter of 3711 into 61* wort, and let it free rise to 68* where I held it for the first two days. By day three, I let it rise to 71*, and I held it there until fermentation was complete.
After about 12 days, I racked this beer to secondary to dry hop it. It sat on the hops for a week before it was kegged.
Let me start off by saying that I’m not typically a fan of Belgian/Phenolic-driven styles. This beer looks great in the glass. Slight haze with a not-quite-orange color. Big rocky head that lasts for days. The aroma is pretty phenolic, with some dry hops hanging around too. Big tart strawberry aroma. Flavor is lots of phenols as well, with some fruitiness behind that. The finish is tart, which is a result of the acidulated malt. In terms of a Saison, this is probably a great beer, but it’s not a style that I particularly care for. For what it’s worth, my sister and my fiance love the beer. I do want to point out, that this beer definitely isn’t overly phenolic; I just don’t like phenol-driven beers.
There’s two things I’ll take away from this batch. A. I got a very good feel for what Belma brings to a beer, and I like it. It’s pretty fruity, kind of funky, and it plays well with other American hops. Neither the Belma or Citra tasted out of place in this beer. B. I need to stop forcing myself to try to enjoy phenolic styles; it’s just not going to happen =/