What a horrid winter, but we are powering through. I finally made it to the first brew day of the year, February 1st!. I was really hoping to get something done in January but the polar vortex and a trip to Phoenix, it wasn’t going to get squeezed in. We’ve been hunkered down. But fortunately, February, March and April are wide open so there will be many beers made…time to play catch up.
This is a mosaic saison, another in this ongoing series of mix culture beers. Mosaic is an interesting “new” hop. Commercial beers that utilize this hop first appeared only a few years ago. A friend described mosaic hops to me as “simcoe’s sexy little sister”…that’s pretty accurate. I had the opportunity to pick up an imperial IPA made with Mosaic from DC Brau brewery called “Solar Abyss”… and while I don’t want this blog to turn into a beer review blog (especially since I have reviewed almost 4,000 commercial examples of beers at this point on various beer reviewing websites), I thought throwing one or two in here and there would be helpful for people to understand archetypes of style or interesting uses of ingredients. The way DC Brau treated this hop, they made a huge double IPA. The beer was fruity but also really dank…one of the stronger dank beers I’ve had recently. Overall the beer is sweet but not heavy, the fruitiness of the mosaic is a little muddled by the malt but it manages to shine through. Typically the yeast character of DC Brau’s beers is subtle and in this beer there is no yeast character. The alcohol is well hidden, again the fruitiness of the hop helps mask the hotness / sweetness of the alcohol. Overall a nice beer, emphasizes the bitterness / dankiness of the hop and backs off of the simcoe family fruitiness. I’d have it again.
I recently purchased a bunch of new base malts and since I purchase base malts in 50 – 55 pound bags…I ended up with a little bit more 2-row than I had room in my storage. I decided to take all the malt that didn’t fit in my bins and make a beer with it. The net result is this Mosaic Saison….but it is a little bigger than previous beers I’ve made. Not too much bigger…but bigger. The biggest beer I’ve brewed recently. Other beers that fall into this “problem” bucket in previous years usually consist of “ingredient enema” IPAs where I throw in all the hops from the year that I didn’t end up using…I’m sure there will be one or two of those this year. So there’s that to look forward to.
Lastly, this beer is also a return to Columbus hops for me. While this is primarily a Mosaic hoppy saison, the bittering hop is Columbus. Columbus was one of my first and most favorite hops. I love CTZ forward beers. I will make a Columbus IPA this year since I have a pound of these hops remaining. Despite Columbus being the bittering hop in this beer, the hope is that this beer will NOT be overly bitter but be able to showcase the Brett in the yeast cake a little better. Even though this was in the low temperature mash series of beers, the yeast cake was from the Snow Day IPA with Nelson (Recipe #5)…and that beer was quite Brett brux forward. I’m hoping that pattern continues with this beer. Too much bitterness might clash with the yeast character of Brett brux. Onto the brew!
Batch # 2014.01
5 Gallon Batch
Brew date: February 1st, 2014
Keg date: February 28th, 2014
ABV: 9% (estimated)
SRM: 4 L (estimated)
IBU: 66 (estimated)
12 pounds of 2-row
1 pound of wheat (I have to include some wheat in most of these, gives me an excuse for clarity issues down the road).
I “maxed” out my mash at 5 gallons due to the higher amount of grain. I say maxed out but that’s not true. I just don’t do high ABV beers often and I was a little surprised how full the mash tun was with this much grain and water. I might have room for a few more gallons, maybe…The initial temperature of the mash was 152 F and a pH stabilizer (pH 5.2) was added to the mash water before adding it to the grain. The sparge was also 5 gallons, no water treatment, at 170 F. About 9 gallons of wort was collected post sparge, this is going to be a longer boil…
85 minute boil. 2 teaspoons of gypsum added to the brew kettle at the start.
1 oz Columbus at 38 minutes into the boil
2 oz Mosaic (12% AA) at 70 minutes into the boil
2 oz Mosaic dry-hopped in keg.
All hops were pellets.
Fermentation began about 6 hours after pitching. The yeast cake from Snow Day IPA with Nelson was used for this beer. Aggressive fermentation continued for several days. We left for New York City for a long weekend and when we returned the krausen had fallen but the airlock was still bubbling.
Gravity reading on February 14th, 2014 (Happy Valentine’s Day everyone), two weeks out from pitching, was 1.010. So, it is basically done. Initial tasting was nice, peppery, good mouthfeel, light but present hops. This will be kegged up shortly.
Other than this being a longer than average fermentation (which should be expected due to the OG of this beer), this was pretty uneventful as far as beers go. The fermentation didn’t stall…all things normal.
Beer is yellow with a slight haze, moderate to low carbonation, nice white head, small bubbles, nice lacing, decent head retention.
Aroma is strong and sweet, both with the yeast and with the hops. Primarily tropical fruits and a mild yeasty esters…minimal brett character in the nose. Grapefruit, mild sweetness, a mild Brett c aroma…some pineapple.
Beer is light and wet, doesn’t finish dry. Brett character is minimal, bitterness is light on the end palate. Wow, just wow. These hops are amazing. This is definitely a repeat beer. The floral / fruitiness from the Mosaic is just incredible. Pineapple, a little mango, sweetness of the malt shines through. I’m glad this beer didn’t dry out too much. One of the best beers I’ve made in a while. One of the greats.
Possible Improvements for future batches:
I’m not going to say that this was a garbage batch but it was a batch of convenience and ZERO thought outside of “how much grain is left over?” went into this recipe. The Mosaic hops are incredible though…both the homebrew and commercial examples I’ve had using this hop have been great; a definite privilege to brew with them. I think the profile would be paired well with several other hop varieties. I’ll start thinking about those more now that this is going strong. I do think that this hop would do well in a hoppier beer as well. Maybe I’ll get ambitious and make an Imperial IPA this year and use up a bunch of hops. Something to ponder at least.
A complete side issue, I attempted to save some grain from the mash to make flour but I burned it (170 F for 6 hours). I made a foolish mistake and it was a bad scene in the kitchen for a few hours. I successfully made flour using the mash from the Amarillo and Cascade Rye IPA but I wanted a simpler flour. I have since made some flour using the spent grains of the Azacca Saison (post coming soon about the beer). Expect an additional post about bread made from spent grain flour…and perhaps a kvas made from that spent grain bread….a little bit of a teaser.
“Fermentation may have been a greater discovery than fire.” -David Rains Wallace