8.26.16 – Experimenting with Carafoam

During my initial research on brewing this style, I was looking through the old Tree House blog and other photos.  In these photos, you find the occasional grain bag.  I wrote it down, but should have saved the picture.  Two Row + Carafoam.   I like Carafoam to add some body to my beers.  I’ve always used it!  I’ve never pushed the envelope with it (nor do I know anybody who has).  I decided to apply the grist of a beer that I’ve had clear before on me, but increase the Carafoam to 18%.  Why not, right?

I mashed in low at 150F using RO water for 60 minutes followed by a 60 minute boil.  All water additions were made with 15 minutes remaining in the boil.  Columbus was added as FWH, Citra / Kohatu blend was added in late additions, whirlpool, and dry hop.

Let me tell you about Kohatu, if you haven’t used this hop and are a fan of Citra / Galaxy / Mosaic, pick some up and give it a shot.  It’s some tasty, tropical, juicy, fruity goodness.

I’ll spare you the details as this is just about the same as Taking Flight with Crystal malt subbed for Honey Malt.


German Pilsner 77%

Carafoam 18%

Honey Malt 5%






Yeast Nutrient

Calcium Chloride



Harvested from Tree House cans Julius and Green

In the past, this grist has cleared on me using wy1056.  I have also had the Tree House yeast clear on me using a very similar grain bill that even had flaked adjuncts (wheat).  My logic suggests that this beer should clear as well.  If it does not, then that has a significance associated with high percentages of Carafoam to the haze.

The first pull of this beer filled the basement with an aroma unlike anything I’ve made to date.  Notes of melon, pine, tropical fruit, and lime stand out.  This is quite pungent.  The appearance is hazy, but not murky.  The mouthfeel is a little light.  I attribute that to be the pilsner malt used.  I expected a bigger mouthfeel with this much contribution from Carafoam.  It seems that there are diminishing returns as you increase the amount of Carafoam to the grain bill.  Next time I will use two row and white wheat or oats.  It makes me wonder what would happen if one would use 100% Carafoam, but that’s quite unorthodox and unnecessary.  It doesn’t hurt to think and certainly doesn’t hurt to experiment.  After all, that’s how all things begin.

All in all this is one of the better hop combos that I’ve thrown together on a whim.  I’m really enjoying this and I intend to take it to the upcoming barbecue with the brewing club and see what happens.  I don’t foresee this keg to last very long.  The real question is how long will the haze last?  If it sticks around, I’d attribute the Carafoam as a strong contributor.  Time will tell.

**Update – after 2 weeks in the keg, the beer is still hazy. Dry hop rates were increased 20% from my typical NEIPA rates; however, all other instances have cleared.  I’d have to experiment further, but I feel the haze could be indicative of high levels of dextrins in the beer.  In this example, that’s all that has changed.

After some conditioning the beer is pretty good still.  Going for this again, I would increase my bittering addition and include Columbus into the hop stand addition.  The after taste is excellent, but it needs some more bite.

As you read this, I’m unpacking a lb of Citra and Kohatu from farmhouse for future revisions.



8.17.16 BBA Narthax Imperial Stout


With cool weather around the corner, it was time to brew something other than an IPA.  In the past 9 months, I’ve only brewed IPA aside from 2 or 3 batches.  Months ago I received one of those airplane shooters full of Jim Beam from a friend and it has just sat in my fridge.  I sanitized a plastic container, dumped in the rest of my med toast French oak chips, and added the Jim Beam.  I’ve since kept this indoors, outdoors in the summer heat, in the freezer, and anywhere I can expose it to different climates.  This sat for about a month before brew day.  More on this later.

Andy joined Murray and I to take part in this double brew day.  It was HOT.  This was our first time using the propane burner as well.  We mashed in with the grains listed below.  Aiming for 4 gallons of 1.086 wort, this taxed the 5 gallon mash tun to peak of its potential.  We mashed for 90 minutes at 152F and batch sparged for 15 minutes at 168F.  We collected nearly 4 gallons of wort into our brew kettle.


The boil was fairly straightforward despite some technical difficulties from a timer on the burner.  Every 15 minutes you must reset it or the flame goes out.  We boiled for 60 minutes with a 60 minute addition of Magnum and 5 minute addition of Glacier.  I was very impressed with these Glacier hops.  Dark fruit, sweet, and cedar aromas from the hops.  I’d like to use these in a SMASH recipe to see what they can bring to the table.


Pale Two Row




Roasted Barley

De-Bittered Black






Yeast Nutrient


Calcium Chloride


Two Packets of Safale US-05

The wort was chilled to the coolest the July ground water would allow, extensively aerated, and then we sent the US-05 off to battle with a Yeast Nutrient addition.  Fermentation began less than 6 hours from pitch at ambient room temperature 68F.  After 3 days, a second charge of yeast nutrient was added to the primary.  1 week into fermentation, we introduced a half cup of the bourbon soaked French oak chips to the beer in a sanitized muslin sack.

After 2 more weeks, the beer was transferred to a secondary vessel.  Poly clar and fresh bourbon soaked chips were added. The carboy was placed for aging in my beer cellar at an ambient temperature (on floor) of 58F for two months.  We’ll get this boy kegged up for fall.




**Update – It’s been about a month since brew day (I get a little backlogged before brewing so I have fancy pictures of the finished products).  Andy and I took a pull from the fermenter and this stuff is ALL BARREL.  Its like we took a bite out of a tree.  Not bad to start but this will be bottle conditioned and we can revisit in a month or two.  The mouthfeel was solid, it finished a little on the dry side, and had a bittery, roast taste.  I attribute a part of that to be from the yeast in suspension as we pulled from the spigot on the Spiedel.  Stay tuned.

8.9.16 Michigan Cherry Cyser

I live in your average blue collar suburb.  We don’t have any fancy restaurants.  We don’t have any whole foods.  We don’t have any Trader Joe’s.  I stumbled into a TJ by work because I’ve heard lots of great things about their products and lack of preservatives (which is music to a brewer’s ears).  I’ve been meaning to get another round of cider in prior to the season coming to as a final means to zero in a recipe.  Thanks to my trip to TJ, I was able to do so.  Most carts were full of food and other things.. mine was mainly things that would soon be booze.

This is round 2 on my Michigan cherry cyser.  The previous version was fermented with a dry cider yeast packet and then transferred to a secondary with honey and tart Michigan cherry juice.  It was then bottled and finished very dry.  Drinkable, but dry and not very enjoyable.  Heck, it was my 3rd or 4th creation ever.  Since then I’ve been wanting to revisit this.

My knowledge on cider making is minimal, but in regard to the brewing process, it’s improved greatly.  My equipment has taken a big step forward too.  My goals are to make this a bit sweeter, have all flavors play an equal role, and have it finish around 1.016-1.020.  If it comes out as desired, I’ll add some toasted oak chips to the next carboy and see what that adds.  I’m not much of a cider guy, but I do feel that some barrel characteristics would add wonders for most out there.

My shopping cart consisted of:

3 gallons of unfiltered Trader Joe’s apple juice (cider wasn’t available, but this should do fine)

32oz tart Michigan cherry juice

2lb of Michigan locally sourced wildflower honey

I don’t intend to use all of the honey and cherry juice, but it’s better to have too much on hand than not enough.  I also scored some mango juice and sweetened coconut for when I get silly for the Brew-B-Que IPA.  More to come on that..

All of the juice was poured into my sanitized fermenter and I pitched a half packet of US05 yeast that I had lingering around my fridge.  48 hours later, there was no activity in the fermenter.. I think the yeast was totaled.  Luckily, I had a half pack of US04 leftover that I pitched as a last resort as I was heading out of town in the morning and it needed to GET DONE.  This concerns me a bit, but worst case scenario; I’ll add Brett and make something weird.

Fermentation lasted for 2 weeks and then settled to 1.010.   This stuff was hazy.. I added a teaspoon of pectic enzyme to aid in clarity and let it sit for 72 hours.  I then slightly warmed 1lb of honey and dissolved it 16oz of the Michigan tart cherry juice.  The fermented must was transferred to the keg.  I then proceeded to add this honey/cherry solution in.   I added a little potassium sorbate / metabisulfate to assist in stopping further fermentation should I decide to bottle some down the line. I purged headspace with CO2, rocked the contents to mix, and into the fridge under 20psi pressure for 48 hours.

This has been on tap for almost a week now and the keg is nearly tapped.  All the girls I know and friend’s wives are crushing this stuff by the growler.  I can’t blame them!  It’s mighty tasty on a summer evening.

When I do this again, I may go back to using kolsch yeast as I typically do with my ciders.



8.3.2016 WLP 564 Leeuwenhoek Saison Blend

Have you heard of the White Labs Vault?  It’s a cool little thing worth checking out.  Think of it as a kickstarter for yeast.  WLP puts up some of their one off, unique stuff that’s normally not in production and when enough pre-orders are accepted, they ship!  My first trip into the White Labs Vault was fun.  They’re loaded with fresh and unique things.  Maybe I’d find something rad?

WLP 564 Leeuwenhoek Saison Blend caught my eye.  The yeast was described as such.


A blend developed for our in-house saisons. It was so popular; we decided to make it available to you. Slightly tart. Blend of two of our saison strains and a low phenolic Belgian strain. Approximately 85% attenuation which makes for a dryer saison.   Used in the White Labs Tasting Room! (For various Saisons, Dubbels, and Roggenbiers).  In beers made in the Tasting Room, the strain proved very versatile, creating spicy, dry and clean beers. 

 With only 4 more orders needed to release the blend, I decided to pull the trigger.  Who doesn’t enjoy a nice saison in the dog days of summer?  I’ve been looking for an excuse to brew one and try some new hops.

A few days later, I received an email stating that the yeast has gone into production.  A week or so later, I got an email saying the yeast had shipped.  The package arrived on the hottest to date day of the year with the ice pack melted into some sort of goo, in my mail box, in the direct sunlight.  I thought for sure this yeast was TOAST.  I cooled it off and then immediately into a low gravity starter, which was bumped up 4 days later.


2 Row

White Wheat






El Dorado





WLP564 Leeuwenhoek Saison Blend

Brew day was uneventful.  A nice, fruity hop aroma filled my home from the hops coming to temperature on the counter.  Not too dank, though, the Warrior isn’t the freshest.  I added hops at 60, 0, a 170F hopstand, and dual dry hopping.  The wort was cooled to 85F or so, the first half of the dry hops were added, the wort was aerated for 2 minutes using the drill method, and the yeast was pitched.

The Saison sat for two weeks in primary and was then transferred to a keg that had previously been purged of oxygen.  FG came in at 1.008 weighing this in at 6.5%abv with an apparent attenuation of 86%!  Impressive for the first time using this yeast and considering it’s condition upon arrival.  The beer had a smell of cider, which worried me.  Keg hops consisting of 2:1 ratio of Motueka:El Dorado were added in a sanitized muslin sack.  The keg was hooked up to 20psi, purged headspace several times, and rocked for about 3 minutes.  48 hours later, we’re almost fully carbonated and ready to pour a sample.

The Saison pours a glowing orange with a stark white head.  Not too much, but with a few more days under pressure will carbonate more appropriately for a Saison.  There is no cider on the nose anymore.  That has been replaced with a very light fruit, flower, candy nose with notes of cool berry, under ripe fruit, and a zip of lime.  Not too overpowering, but right what I deem desirable for this style.


Given it’s an early pour, I’ll visit it again in a few days to see how this pulls together.  The initial taste reminds me of a big glass of dry orange rind.  Dry Carbonated orange juice.  No sign of booze here.  Excuse me while I go find a Tropicana carton and have a wild day at the office.  Not literally, but this could get the job done if you woke up in that mood. After a few more I may actually figure out how to properly say the name of this yeast strain.

Going forward, I’d like to work the recipe to work on the orange juice thing that it already has going.  What suggestions do you have for making an exceptional Saison?  Do you have any ideas how to bring out the orange juice thing?  If so, drop me a line.  I’d love to hear back.