Tag Archives: Hop Rocket

The perfect Saison recipe….my search for it

I like saisons. Brewing them and drinking them. I may have mentioned this before. When I brew them I feel verry zen. I am also developing my own take on what it is, or should be.

The Australian Amateur Brewing championship style guidelines put it in category 17. Farmhouse Ale & Wild Beer. The background they give is as follows – Saisons – History: A seasonal summer style produced in Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium. Originally brewed at the end of the cool season to last through the warmer months before refrigeration was common. It had to be sturdy enough to last for months but not too strong to be quenching and refreshing in the summer. It is now brewed year-round in tiny, artisanal breweries whose buildings reflect their origins as farmhouses. You can find more of this here – AABC

James at Beer Bar Band wrote a really nice piece on saisons and what they taste like here with his Beer – Verticle Saisons post. Excellent writing and it covers two beers that I can vouch are great saisons, especially the Saison DuPont. That is the one they named the style after.

What a saison actually is though is an interesting question? the guidelines are really broad on this one in the style guideline, lots of may be this, might be that, pale to amber, 5-7% ABV, clear or cloudy…. it goes on.

I think the best description of this beer is in it being a farmhouse ale made for the workers. This gives a few hints and the following points are my interpretations of this;

  • I doubt it would be all that consistent in malt bill across the geographic spread of the beer.
  • They would have used a fair percentage of what they grew. I doubt it would have been all that pale as the malting and kilning would have been inconsistent and probably burnt some of the malt, adding some colour.
  • Clarity, that depends on your brewing process and how you let it sit. It is possible to have perfectly clear bottle conditioned beers.
  • Hoppyness? I think it’s often under estimated. You want the beers to last so probably add plenty of hops, or maybe even other herbs and spices (havent tried that yet).
  • Add in some sugar? if its cheap why not, these people were brewing to keep the workers happy.
  • Now to booze % I wouldn’t want people working for me to be drinking 7% ABV beer for lunch. Would you?

That’s my kind of guiding ideals for designing my saisons, so I tend to end up with a lower ABV, hoppyish beer with some sugar, and a range of grains, often some unfermented (my folks have a farm so I use the home-grown ones). And how am I going in finding my perfect saison recipe using my self-imposed saison rules? Well I’m getting some beers I like, and some that I’m not sure of.  Here are my last few cracks at it.

Saison 2011.

I really liked this beer, might be hard to replicate as the Vienna that I used was really old stuff that I got for $2 for 2kg which I had to use when I discovered that mice had made a mess of the bag of wheat I intended to use. Really nice clean beer, started at 1.042 OG  (terrible efficiency) and finished at about 1.010. This is based on a saison I brewed the year before. This one got the Wyeast Farmhouse ale, a blend. I had to use this instead of my prefered Belgium Saison yeast.

Amount Item Type % or IBU
3.50 kg Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (3.9 EBC) Grain 68.36 %
0.75 kg Vienna Malt (6.9 EBC) Grain 14.65 %
0.50 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (3.9 EBC) Grain 9.77 %
0.10 kg Acid Malt (5.9 EBC) Grain 1.95 %
0.01 kg Roasted Barley (591.0 EBC) Grain 0.20 %
19.00 gm Magnum [14.00 %] (50 min) (First Wort Hop) Hops 35.6 IBU
25.00 gm Pearle [8.00 %] (1 min) Hops 4.3 IBU
0.26 kg palm sugar (2.0 EBC) Sugar 5.08 %

Saison Stella.

I wanted to use my hopback on a saison, and Stella hops apparently had some kind of berry like background taste. I thought that sounded like a good idea. OK not so much. Its got a taste that sticks out, I think its the hops, kind of a resiny oily hop taste, and I might have added a little too much character malt. Its kind of a pumped up version of the Stella 2011. I’m having one right now. Its far less saisony than the Saison 2011. Same yeast though. The raw wheat and barley were only harvested a few days before I made this beer. It’s probably my favorite little bit about this beer. A little bit bigger, this beer had an OG of 1.048 and finished at about 1.010 (really must pay more attention to the FG!)

Amount Item Type % or IBU
3.50 kg Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (3.9 EBC) Grain 63.41 %
0.75 kg Vienna Malt (6.9 EBC) Grain 13.59 %
0.50 kg Barley raw Grain 9.06 %
0.50 kg Wheat raw Grain 9.06 %
0.15 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 80L (157.6 EBC) Grain 2.72 %
0.10 kg Acid Malt (5.9 EBC) Grain 1.81 %
0.02 kg Roasted Barley (591.0 EBC) Grain 0.36 %
16.00 gm Magnum [14.40 %] (50 min) (First Wort Hop) Hops 30.9 IBU
100.00 gm Stella [16.60 %] (1 min) Hops 36.0 IBU

Saison 2012 – the Sushi Tribute

Sushi was my goldfish for about 6 years. He died a few weeks ago, I’m naming this beer as a tribute to my little orange swimmy friend who is no more. This beer is a tweaked version of Saison 2011. More roast, more palm sugar, more hops I (doubt the homegrown ones add much) my prefered yeast, and some fresher vienna. Not really sure how it’ll come out, it appears darker than I expected, one of the increase in roast barley, and fresher vienna, or the addition of rye malt has done this. Also the palm sugar was different to the previous batch, darker I think. Time will tell. It started at 1.052. A little bigger than planned but still ok. Oh and I didn’t put any home-grown barley or wheat in this beer cos I’m lazy.

Amount Item Type % or IBU
3.50 kg Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (3.9 EBC) Grain 64.81 %
0.75 kg Vienna Malt (6.9 EBC) Grain 13.89 %
0.50 kg White Wheat Malt (4.7 EBC) Grain 9.26 %
0.10 kg Acid Malt (5.9 EBC) Grain 1.85 %
0.10 kg Rye Malt (9.3 EBC) Grain 1.85 %
0.05 kg Roasted Barley (591.0 EBC) Grain 0.93 %
20.00 gm Magnum [14.00 %] (60 min) (First Wort Hop) Hops 41.9 IBU
9.00 gm home grown wet hops [5.00 %] (1 min) Hops 1.0 IBU
30.00 gm Pearle [8.00 %] (1 min) Hops 5.4 IBU
0.40 kg palm sugar (0.0 EBC) Sugar 7.41 %
1 Pkgs Belgian Saison (Wyeast Labs #3724) Yeast-Ale

So that’s what I’ve been doing in relation to the saisons. Havent got it figured yet but I think its in between these recipes. Oh now I need to explain the palm sugar. In Thailand it came to me that saisons suited asia, dry, refreshing beers, that could have a whole bunch of different ingredients. Saisons also go well with Thai food (well actually any light and cold beer does more or less). So anyway I figured a Thai ingredient would be a nice touch. Funky looking stuff isn’t it?

funky palm sugar for the saison

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a beer blog post for 2012

OK so its 2012 now and as has been the case for the past few months I still feel slack for not having posted enough. Its kinda silly as there isn’t a required number of posts that I need to do, no contract or monthly quota. However I do enjoy writing my posts, as pointless, wandering and generally ill-informed as they are and I’d like to do more of them (or at least make them more regular). So here’s no.1 for 2012.

I’ve done a bit of brewing in the past few weeks, I’ll add some recipes in a separate post. My recent brewing has involved a some playing with my hop back, whole leaf hops, a new farmhouse yeast (they didnt have the Belgium Saison yeast when I needed some) and I have finally deliberately made a beer with bret in it (even though the yeast was way past its best).

The hop back,  the Blichman Hop Rocket is a great bit of gear, does what it says it with no real hassle or stress. I still havent quite gotten the measure of how it comes out in the beer. I’ve done a couple of beers now with only bittering/60 minute hop additions, with the hop back giving all the late hop character. One with Galaxy is in my glass right now in a pale ale that was thrown together on spot, the other with Stella is in the fermenter with a farmhouse yeast right now.  I’m just putting a full pack of whole hops in (Grain and Grape in Yarraville sells them in 100g packs), havent tried more or less and the flow rate is a bit up and down thanks to the temp of my chilling water. Still I like it and I’ll keep on using it. Perhaps the best part of the hop back is the whole leaf hops, all resiny sticky and stinking of hop goodness.

Now to the farmhouse yeast (it’s a Wyeast limited edition one), its my substitute for a saison yeast, Grain and Grape were out so it seemed like the next best thing. From the one beer I’ve made with it so far its throwing some banana type notes. Not sure if this is a fermentation temperature driven thing (I treated the yeast just like the belgium saison, lots of temp), but I’m not sure that I love it in my saisons. Its not giving as much of the funkyness either. Will have to see how it goes with the Stella beer, and I do need to add that the beer that I have bottled right now is a good drop, just not as saisony as I like (or want).

Now to the funk, the bret beer. I’ve had Wyeast packs with bret in it in my fridge for some time now. I finally manned up and used one in my post christmas brew. Its fermenting right now in an old farmhouse at my folks. Not sure how it’ll do as the yeast, the Wyeast Trappist blend (blend = plus bret) was about 11 months old. I threw in a touch of fresh farmhouse yeast just to make sure that the damn thing ferments. The beer is a CYBI inspired brew, crystal hops, some oak cubes in the ferment along with some raw barley and wheat freshly harvested from the farm.

Well that’s it for now, for 2012 I’ll endeavor to post and brew more, not off to a bad start though.

Cheers D


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and IPA called James

Tonight there is very little on TV. It kinda sucks. Supernatural has finished for its current season and it seems Monday night isnt a focus for the TV guru’s. Right now its a toss-up between old Top Gear episodes, and the Iron Man cartoon. Like I said its a tough call.

To add to the ambiance my apartment is very smokey, like a 1970’s pub, thanks to me having a steak for dinner. I must add it was a fucking excellent steak, part due to me being excellent at cooking steaks, but mostly due to the good people a Costco having the sense to use all MSA graded beef. Excellent.

Now to the IPA called James. As previously blogged I brewed a batch of Cosmic Tex on the weekend that started out as a US IPA but due to a hiccup or two and a few more hops it ended up as an Imperial IPA. All things are more or less the same on the malt % and the hop profile but it is now 1074 OG and 132 IBU. Now that is calculated! not actual. I have no doubt if I was to measure the IBU’s properly it would go nowhere near that. Also I have no idea of the hop utilisation through the hop rocket. All I do know is that my car smelt really good driving the wort back to Yarraville. When all the dry hopping is done there will be over 450 grams of hops in a 22 litre batch. That’s a lot, over 21 grams per litre. That’s a lot.

Now back onto an IPA called James. This beer is an English IPA. I have an English uncle. It makes sense that they have the same name. This beer is about 1070 and about 40 IBU’s so kind of mild in relation to Cosmic Tex but it had a wonderful spicy hoppy aroma. I am still uncertain if I’ll dry hop it. Probably. Will see later on this week.

Anyway its a good thing having a couple of IPA’s fermenting away in your spare room. I recommend it to everyone. Also as there are now 2 IPA’s I am extending the idea of sending me in ideas of tap handles or bottle labels to James the IPA as well as Cosmic Tex. Havent been overrun by entries yet. I guess the lack of a prize may be a factor? hmm…

As far as my Brand Power lady impersonation for today “If you like home brewing beer and really want to shove a gutload of hops in your beer try new Hop Rocket from Blichmann Engineering. Its wonderful all stainless construction and simpleton proof construction make it ideal for even the most stupid home brewer. Get yours today” A really good product that worked first time, no stuffing around straight out of the box. And it lets you play with wonderful resiny whole flower hops. And it acts as a kind of filter for all the crap that otherwise would end up in my plate chiller.

Anyway there is something nice about being opulent and inefficient. Cosmic Tex is both these things. I have decided that the unit of hops added to this beer is a metric opulence. It’s also nice to invent your own unit of measurement. So much so that I looked for a picture that says opulence. Using Google the seem to think that means pictures of ladies in their underware. Fair enough but insetad I went for the below picture.

Cheers D



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naming rights – Cosmic Tex Rebooted

2 Foot Tex IPA was named after a mates kid. His real name (the kid) is Archer, but Tex is one of the middle names, and he gets called that a bit. The name came from a drunken agreement made between myself and Stu, Tex’s dad at Meredith Music Festival about 4 years ago. Tim Rogers and Tex Perkins were playing on the Sunday, at about midday. It was bloody hot and dusty, we were both several UDL cans of varying flavor into the day. I recall that about the only way we’d found to keep cool was put ice down our underwear. Not such a good idea.

Anyway myself and Stu both have man crushes on both Tex and Tim. Somehow we ended up agreeing that if Stu had a kid he’d call it Tex (well he got it in as a middle name) and if I end up with a kid the name Tim is on the list.

Whose better half? Tim Rogers and Tex Perkins

So that’s the history to the beer name 2 Foot Tex IPA. This year the recipe has been morphed a little and Tex is a bit taller so the name needs to change. Stu has hit on the idea of the addition of the Galaxy hop making the beer cosmic. This leads us to the new name Cosmic Tex Rebooted. I added the rebooted bit, cos its a rebooted recipe. It’s also fitting that the cosmic word gets in there as the Galaxy hops are being added through a rocket. That’s all pretty cool.

So brewing this beer on Saturday, and another IPA, more of an English one. It’ll be a long brew day, still the worst day brewing it 10 times better than your best day in the office. Boo to the office!

Well there you go Stu comment on that! I know you want me to design a label and a tap handle but I really can’t be arsed. Anybody with some art like skills please feel free to go for it. I think something combining Tex Perkins, something to do with space, maybe Saturn, and lots of hops as there is a metric shit tonne of hops in this beer. 

Anyway send in any tap handle or label designs and I’ll post them.

Cheers D

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2 foot tex 2011 reboot. Now with more Galaxy!

Just went and got some hops. Seems that whole hop flowers only come in bags of 100g, so I guess I’ll throw the whole bag into the hop back.

I cant see any way that adding more hops can do any harm? I mean look at the picture below, poor little defensless green things just waiting to make beer all hoppy and beery. What harm could they possibly do?

Cheers D

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Sick day and customer service

Having a day on the couch today. Feeling crappy and not really a fan of it. Started feeling a bit shitty at work yesterday, blocked up in the head and just sort of vague.

Firstly daytime TV is really bad. Just watched a bit of JAG and am now into an episode of MacGyver. His mullet is awesome.

Secondly I’ve been having some issues with my home espresso machine. I usually start the day with at least one strongish coffee. Have done for years except for a weird 12 months in about 2005 when I went off coffee. Still don’t understand how that happened. Anyway I did a bit if tinkering last night and found a blown seal (yea I know the joke about the penguin eating ice-cream).  Thanks to that the idea of a new coffee machine is on hold and a new seal is on its way from the good people at the Breville customer service center.

I usually would struggle to put the words “good people” and “call centre” in the same scentence, first time for everything. One call, no redirections, spoke to a bloke called George who knew what part I wanted and had it sorted and on its way to me all for less than $12 in about 5 minutes. This was even cheaper than eBay. Breville gets two thumbs up from me for excellent customer service.

There is some line about if you get bad service you tell X number of people, good service no one. This is my crack at doing the opposite. Breville customer service is excellent! buy their stuff!

Until the parts get here I’m back to using my old Italian style stove top coffee maker, and until the machine explodes my plans for a new fancy coffee machine are on hold. I saw a way too fancy and overpriced one at The Sensory Lab (downstairs in Little Collins St Melb David Jones) but it looked the goods, however at $800 rather than $12 it;ll have to wait.

As there will be no need to lash out on caffien delivery devices I think I’d better go get some fittings so I can rig up some hoses to plug my hop back, march pump and plate chiller together. Not quite how that will work but I’ll figure it out. Anything other than watching more MacGyver. Like Richard Dean Anderson’s mullet this really hasnt aged well.

Coffee’s ready. Going now. Might have some panadol too.

Cheers D

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really need to bottle some beer…

I’m a bit slack. Slack yet I put effort into avoiding doing the thing that needs doing. Right now I’m having a beer and watching Star Wars cartoons. I should be getting ready for tomorrow, cooking myself some dinner or bottling some beer.

I have a porter and a barley wine that really need bottling. Bloody bottling, such a tedious, yet needed job. finishing beer is important, but putting it into a keg kicks the hell out of filling bottles. I have a couple of beers sitting in kegs conditioning right now, some stout on oak, some porter on coco nibs, and a mead that has been in glass for at least 18 months. Patience with these beers will do no harm to them. Beer in plastic however is a different thing. The barley wine will probably benefit from a little oxidation, speed its ageing process up a little. The porter should be ok, it’s just ready to go. I als have some stout on oak in a demijohn, its only 5 litres but its been there for nearly 2 months. So slack.

As for my slackness and procrastination I think I’ll comment a little more on my Hop Rocket. If you have ever purchased or used a product from Blichmann you will know that they make good stuff. I have their beer gun, and the Hop Rocket is no acception.  It’s a hop back, basically another way to get hop flavor, and more importantly hop aroma into my beers. There is some talk that you can get away with using less hops and therefore save money when using a hop back on your beers. I doubt I’ll be doing that. I figure that bigger is better with hops, none of this balance shit for my beers , hops, hops and more hops. I’ve got a bit of plumbing to do to get the sucker hooked up, and it’ll mean bringing out the pump again, no more gravity brewing to me. That’ll mean a bit less peaceful ness in the brew but more hops! Its bigger than I thought it would be, nice to have that when you get something delivered without ever having seen it.

Ah well better get back to dinner and getting in the zone for tomorrow. Big day, important stuff, everybody whish me luck if you can.

Cheers D

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Has a rocket…

…a hop rocket from Blichman to be precise. Hello to upping the hop profile in my beers. Just need to find some time to hook it all up and brew. So my next beers will probably be an IPA and a pale ale.

Must say very happy with the build quality.

Cheers D

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