Rounding out the end of the year with a brewing marathon. No empty fermenter for the New Year! At least that’s the goal. I have 4 empties right now so we’ll see if I can squeeze in 4 brewdays in the next week and a half…hard to do but not impossible. I’m trying to squeeze in a few things that I wanted to get done this year but ran out of time. One of those being a wet hop saison using the hops I picked at Stillpoint farms in my Grain-to-glass post.

These hops are chinook and are “wet hops” that is they were never dried. I vacuum sealed them and stuck them in the freezer. Since they were never dried, the hop addition for this beer is going to be ALL of the leaf hops at the very end of the boil. They can’t be freeze-thawed. Not ideal but this is a special beer with a special ingredient.

One other small difference in this saison is the addition of flaked barley. I’ve been meaning to add flaked oats, flaked wheat, flaked barely to some saisons to see what the differences will be in the finished product. I used flaked rice in the Galaxy saisons I brew frequently but I’ve avoided these other flaked grains. The goal here is to give a little protein for some head retention and some flavor as well. I like flaked barley and throw it into stouts and high gravity beers I make (I have a few high gravity beers coming up…one currently aging in a whiskey barrel). So we’ll see what impact it has on this saison. My constant rebrewing of saisons gives me this ability to play with the ingredients a little at a time.

5 Gallon Batch
Brew date: Saturday, December 21st, 2014
Kegging date: Monday, January 26th, 2015
OG: 1.060
FG: 1.010
ABV: 6.5%
SRM:  6
IBU:  39 IBU (measured, see below)


80% 2-row
10% Wheat
10% Flaked Barley

Mash Conditions:

Ambient temperature at the time of the brew was 43° F. I heated the mash strike water to 165° F. After pouring into the mash tun and adding the grain, the mash temp was 151° F. This is a little low for what I wanted but it will do fine. Mash was started at 11:30 AM (late start for me). I left the mash for 60 minutes. Total mash volume just above 4 gallons. Vorlauf on mash for about a gallon, until the wort ran clear. 5 gallons of sparge water was heated to 180° F. also vorlaufed for a while. Collected about 8 gallons of water, a little more.

Brewing Procedure:

Boil started at 1:10 PM, brought to a boil quickly. Modest boil to begin, boil increased in second half. Wort chilled with an immersion chiller for about 30 minutes. I ended up with around 4.5 gallons of wort after chilling. Wort was poured from the pot into the bottling bucket for fermentation. I put a strainer inside a funnel resting in the bucket to catch the majority of the hop leaves as the wort was drained.

Hop Schedule:

So the hops were frozen in a vacuum bag so I dropped the brick of hops into the boiling wort and stirred the brick around until it wasn’t frozen anymore, then I waited 5 more minutes, then turned the flame off. Total time the hops were in the kettle (including the frozen time) was about 15 minutes.

Chinook wet hops
Chinook wet hops

Fermentation Conditions:

This beer was fermented with the Dupont strain of yeast from previous batches.. I will likely discard this yeast after this batch and restart.


Since, I didn’t know the percent alpha acid of these hops I decided to measure the IBUs in the final beer using the technique I previously blogged about here.

I left this beer in the fermenter longer than I wanted but I got busy with a lot of different things. Some for the blog, some for my job, some for my small family. Life gets in the way sometimes. I don’t think that negatively affected the beer though.

pH of finished beer.
pH of finished beer.

I decided to do some analytics on this beer, mainly pH and IBU determination. Since the hops were from a farm and I didn’t know the AA%, I thought it was as good a test as any. The pH was 4.5, so that is in line with what a beer should be. The IBU detemination is below.

Absorbance at 275nm for IBU determination
Absorbance at 275nm for IBU determination

The calculation I use for IBU is to multiply the A275 by 50, so 47 EBU  which corresponds to 39 IBU (see my measuring IBU post for an explanation). This is pretty much exactly where I wanted to be with this number so I’m happy. Anything around 40 is good.

Last note, I couldn’t carbonated this beer to the right level because there is a leak in my CO2 system some place. While I am tracking that down, I am only leaving the gas on while I’m serving, so this beer is undercarbonated. I have narrowed it down and I think it is just the attachment point to the post on the keg. I will fix it soon, just haven’t gotten to it yet.

Tasting Notes:

I’m going to start with the summary because fuck, this is a good beer. This is probably my favorite saison I’ve ever made. There is a light tartness of this beer adds SO MUCH to it. I’m in love.

Chinook Wet Hop Saison
Chinook Wet Hop Saison

This beer looks like all the others. It is yellow and hazy with a thin white head, decent retention. The beer is overall undercarbonated. Still nice though.

Aroma is a little sweet, nice hops, mildly tart. It smells…soft? I don’t know how to explain it. The winner in the aroma is definitely the hops.

Beer is creamy in the mouthfeel. It is really a great beer start to finish. The hops are mildly bitter, there is this almost tartness to the beer that I really enjoy. The hops are present, there is a softness to the whole thing. The finish is not dry, wet like water. There is a strong yeast presence in the beer as well. Peppery and esters. I really love this beer. I don’t know if the tartness in the beer is lactic acid or what, it is just a really nice beer.

When I took the lid off the fermenter, I was expecting to see a pellicle on top of the beer but there was nothing. This was the yeast that previously had some Brett c. in it but I thought maybe I had cured the culture of it…and apparently I did. There isn’t a hint of it.

Overall, probably my favorite beer in the past several months or years.

Possible Improvements for Future Batches:

This is a one off beer so there isn’t a whole lot of point talking about what I would do differently, this is one of the first whole leaf hop beers I’ve made in years though, so I can talk about that. My treatment of this wort was not as gentle as it could have been, it wasn’t draining out of the port and I didn’t use a hop bag or a spider (things to consider in the future) as the hops were frozen. This was mostly due to the fact that they were wet hops and I didn’t want a single round of freeze thawing, as that would have been horrible for them. In upcoming whole leaf hop beers I will do a better job.

Other than that, I will not be throwing away these yeast. I’m going to make this one of my house cultures and definitely reuse this blend. I’m onto something here. Seriously best beer of the past several years. I’m really excited (can you tell?!?!?). So in conclusion, this is NOT a one-off. I’ll be making a beer similar to this

Upcoming Brews:

The beers in fermenters are a Falconer’s Flight saison and an Apollo Saison. Also, there are a bunch of 1 gallon fermenters with different single yeast species in them (like Brettanomyces nanus and Kluyveromyces lactis).  Some fun stuff coming down the pike. I have some food fermentation posts coming up, most notably I’m about to try my hand at cheese making for the first time! I’m nervous and excited. Even if that doesn’t turn out I have some sour dough breads coming up.

My post about the Physiology of Flavors – Saccharomyces is pretty popular, getting several thousand views in the first few days it is up so I’m going to keep that ball rolling with a post about Lactobacillus next. That should be up in a few months…as those take a while to write.

Note about these blog posts:

I’m pretty bad about taking pictures while I brew and I’m going to fix that. My promise is that there is going to be way more photos on posts from now on and less text. Should be easier on the eyes. My smart phone broke recently and I lost a lot of brewing pictures but I endeavor to fix this in the coming weeks and months. Many more photos in my posts from now on.

Chinook hop cones
Chinook hop cones

“No Farms, No Beer.” –Milkhouse Brewery Slogan


4 thoughts on “Recipe #34: Chinook Wet Hop Saison (Batch #2014.30)

  1. My mouth waters with every one of your Saison posts. I’d really appreciate a direct tap from your kegs to my computer monitor at work. Also, consider linking back to previous articles when you discuss them (like Physiology of Flavors stuff), that way lazy dudes like me don’t have to work so hard to find them. Cheers, Matt!

    1. Thanks, if you are ever in the mid-Atlantic come by and drink all the saisons. I added the link to the Physiology of saccharomyces post. Someday I’ll figure out this blog thing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s