Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sah'Tea #2

Okay, my first attempt at a sah'tea may have gone a little awry (given that there's rye malt in the wort, no pun intended...well, maybe just a little...), but only because I'd use a hefeweizen yeast that, on my first use, has so far produced a LOT of banana aroma in the hefe.  It's likely not going to end up being anywhere close to what I had hoped, and may end up getting renamed to "LCpl's Tears #2", or something similar.

This time, I'm going to go with a wort that's a bit lighter in color, but with good body.

Brew Day: 22 May

Partial Mash:
12 oz Belgian Munich malt
5 oz rye malt
1.5 oz CaraPils

Boil (60 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME (@ 60 min)
2.5 oz table sugar (@ 60 min)
10 g Huell Melon hops (AA: 4.5%) (@ 60 min)

10 g crushed juniper berries and 3 black tea bags (@ 10 min)

Yeast: Safale K-97

*I followed my normal process for the partial mash, cooling the wort, and pitching the yeast.

Addendum, 27 May: While I was preparing to bottle the "300 Hefe" this morning, I went ahead and put an air lock in this fermenter.  Things seem to be moving along nicely.

Addendum, 7 Jun: Bottled tonight; got 8 regular bottles and one re-purposed soda bottle.  Should do nicely.

Addendum, 3 Jul: Tasted the beer tonight, from what I'd put into a soda bottle.  I just about hit the nail on the head with this one!  Very, very close on color, body, and flavor...even have just a bit of bitterness/"mouth feel" from the tea.  Very good, definitely sticking with this recipe, with the minor exception of upping the juniper addition to 12 grams.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


I wanted to do a couple of things with this brew...use up the Munich LME I have, use the red wheat I got from Jay's Brewing (LHBS), and try a hefe with a different yeast.  In this case, I'm going to be trying the Pure Pitch WLP 300 yeast, which suddenly gives the picture to the right some context, doesn't it?  See what I did there?  WLP 300, a picture from the movie "300"...

Anyway, I still have some of my previous hefe left, but then it's getting to be that time of year where I get out to mow the grass, and when I'm done, I may want to enjoy a nice cold hefeweizen as my reward.

Brew Day: 11 May 2016

Partial Mash:
1 lb Red Wheat
1.5 oz flaked wheat

Boil (60 min):
1.3 lb Munich LME
3 oz table sugar
10 g German Perle hops (FWH)

Yeast: WLP 300

*I followed my usual processes for the partial mash, cooling the wort, and pitching the yeast.

Note: I checked on the beer about 6 hrs after pitching the yeast, and it's doing really well.  The yeast is really doing a it's thing!

Addendum, 12 May: As part of my normal Thu morning routine (trash day), I checked in on the brew, and I had to replace the blow-off bottle.  The bottle was completely overwhelmed with krausen, and the padding I'd placed under it (4 paper towels) was completely saturated.  So, I put some fresh sanitizer in another bottle, and cleaned up and replaced the padding, as well.  It was messy, but a good sign.

So far, my experience has been that if you want a good hefeweizen, liquid yeast is the best way to go.  Yes, I've gotten some nice banana notes from the T-58 yeast, but that's more for a Belgian style beer.  Also, letting the beer sit for a bit longer is a great idea; it applies to the hefes just as well as it does to the IPAs.

Addendum, 27 May: Bottled the "300 Hefe" today.  I got 8 good bottles out of the fermenter.

Addendum, 16 Jun: My wife tried one of these last night...the Munich LME was overpowering.  I figured it would be, due to the color, and I had guessed right.  The color and flavor are definitely of a caramel malt, and the flavor overwhelms any aroma of banana.  Comes out as heavy-bodied, malt-forward wheat beer with strong caramel notes.

Not a keeper for a hefe recipe - lesson learned, do not use any caramel malt (grain or extract) in a hefeweizen.

Friday, May 6, 2016


I wanted to try something a bit different, and figured I'd go back to something I'd considered last year.  I still haven't been able to find DogFish Head Sah'tea in the stores, so I thought I'd take a shot at making one of my own.

From the Sah'tea page at the DogFish Head web site:

...the beer is fermented with a German weizen yeast. In addition to juniper berries foraged from the Finnish countryside, Sah'tea is flavored with black tea.

I've got a copy of Randy Mosher's Radical Brewing, and there's a recipe on pg. 244 for a Finnish Sahti.  I'm using something of a variant of that recipe, going with a partial mash, but I wanted to get an idea of how to go about adding juniper berries to the recipe, and in what amount.  I've been doing research on the subject and what I've found is that there are some resources available on the Internet that both praise and condemn the use of juniper berries in beer, but few that include recipes or proportions.  The recipe in the book calls for 1 oz of crushed berries in a 5 gal batch, and juniper branches are included in the mash.  I'm not going to include the branches in this attempt, but I may in future attempts.  I have a juniper bush in my front yard and snipping off a few small branches to include in the boil might not be a bad addition.

For this first attempt, I'm going to got with crushed berries, added to the last 10 min of the boil, in a muslin bag.  I'll do a gentle crushing using a mortar and pestle, and I don't want little bits and pieces of the berries floating around in my beer; the muslin bag will take care of that.

Brew Day: 6 May 2016

Partial Mash:
9 oz Briess Rye Malt
3 oz Crystal Rye Malt
1.5 oz Carapils

Boil (60 min):
1.6 lb Munich LME (@ 60 min)
3 oz table sugar (@ 60 min)

Hops: 10 g German Perle, AA: 8.4% (FWH)

Additions: 10 g Juniper berries (crushed), black tea (@ 10 min, remained in the wort during cooling)

Yeast:  WLP380 (wanted to go with something that imparts less banana, more clove)

*I followed my usual process for the partial mash, cooling the wort, and pitching the yeast.

Addendum, 7 May: Going through my normal morning routine, I checked in on the beer; the yeast was pitched about 13 hrs ago.  It's bubbling quite nicely; there's a bit of blow-off in the blow-off bottle, but not a lot, and the bubbles rising in the fermenter are as many as the stars in the sky.  ;-)

I will say that the beer is a bit more brown than I would have like, but that's a result of the LME and crystal rye.  We'll see how the combination of additions works on the flavor, but the next attempt at this may be more along the lines of an all-grain brew.

Addendum, 8 May: Checked in on the beer this morning, found that the blow-off bottle was completely overflowing, and was glad that I'd put paper towels underneath it.  I replaced the blow-off bottle with a new one (I use spent Gatorade bottles), and was able to see the flow of bubbles; they were small, a little over  second apart, but there was a steady flow.  Now, I'll just let the beer sit and let the yeast keep doing it's thing.  I'll likely put an airlock on the fermenter in about a week, and I'm looking at bottling either the 18th or maybe the 20th.

Addendum, 12 May: My wife had one of the hefeweizens I made with the WLP380 yeast, and she really likes it...a lot!  She opened it and poured it into a glass, and I could smell the banana from across the room.  As such, I'm wondering if the juniper berries and tea will overwhelm the banana esters, or after a couple of weeks of sitting, the reverse will be true.

What I may need to do with the next attempt at this brew is try the K-97 yeast.  I know that the description from the DFH site says "weizen" yeast, which is "wheat" in German.  The K-97 is described to be a German ale yeast, so that may be the way to go.

Right now, I'm somewhat on the fence regarding other changes.  Part of me says, "...make documented, atomic changes...", but the Marine in me says, "...make BOLD dope changes!!" It might be best if, when tasting this brew, the banana is overpowering to just change the yeast used, and nothing else.

Addendum, 21 May: Bottled today, before heading out to an anniversary dinner with my lovely bride!  Got a full six-pack, plus two repurposed soda bottles worth of beer.  During the transfer, the beer had a bit of banana aroma already; I didn't try it because I wanted it all in the bottles.  It will be interesting to try this one in 2-3 weeks.