Brew #3 - Hibiscus Saison August 21 2020, 0 Comments

While my GF brewing is going to be pretty hop heavy (see below for a picture of what my left arm looks like), it's summer, so I wanted to make something that would be refreshing and also take advantage of the higher fermentation temperatures. Hibiscus saison here I come!

The Recipe

  • 9lb White Pale Millet Malt from Colorado Malting Co (the first two batches used Red Millet from Grouse Malting)
  • 1lb Vienna Millet Malt
  • 1.25lb Rice Hulls
  • 1.33lb Corn Sugar
  • 1oz Target pellet hops (60 min)
  • 1oz Nelson Sauvin pellet hops (dry hop)
  • 2.5oz Dried Hibiscus Flowers (1.5oz flameout, 1oz dry hop)
  • Belle Saison dry yeast
  • 1 Cup Corn Sugar (bottling)
  • 1/2 tsp Wyeast Beer Nutrient (10 min)
  • 1 tsp Irish Moss (10 min)
  • 1/2 Campden Tablet (pre-mash)
  • 3 gallons Reverse Osmosis Water
  • 16g Ondea Pro brewing enzymes (mash)
  • 11g Ceremix Flex brewing enzymes (mash)

The Mash

The mash went great. I ended up adding a little extra water to the mash, since it seemed pretty thick. So instead of sparging with 4.75 gallons, I sparged with 3.25 gallons.

After about 90 minutes, I checked on the mash, and it looked a little goopier (more starch) than the last batch. Could be due to the new base malt. i did a starch conversion test, and it said there was no starch present, so just in case I let it go another 30 minutes before batch sparging.

The sparge went great, got fewer chunks into the boil kettle, which is nice.

The Boil

Boil was perfect except for one, ahem, not-so-smart move on my part. When adding the sugar, I turned off the heat, got distracted for a couple minutes, and then opened the bag and started pouring in the sugar. Too fast. Which led to a big foam up / boil over. Lost .5 gallons, which is a bummer, but not the end of the world.

Added 1.5 oz of hibiscus at flame out. Beer going into the fermenter had a slight pinkish hue, hoping for more color with the addition of 1 oz hibiscus in the fermenter.

Post Boil

Because of the boil over, I went into the fermenter with 4.75 gallons. Which means that BeerSmith volumes seems to be dialed in pretty well. Ended up with a 1.054 starting gravity, which is just slightly above the 1.050 target gravity.

After I cooled the beer down (which took a long time due to warm summer ground water), I pitched the Belle Saison yeast and stuck the fermenter in my bedroom closet to take advantage of some 80+ degree fermentation conditions. The Belle Saison went nuts! 

Final Verdict

First thing that jumps out is the beautiful color. A pink / reddish hue, and it cleared up pretty nicely. Has a really inviting floral, berry-like aroma. Definitely some spicy notes from the saison yeast in the nose as well.

This beer is fruity, floral, dry, and refreshing. It ought to be dry, the final gravity was .998! I've never had a beer ferment down that low, crazy! It's really tasty. Because of the acid that the hibiscus is treated with to help it keep its color, there is a tiny bit of a harsh aftertaste. But hopefully that will dissipate with time.

All in all, I'm really happy with this beer. I think I would back off on the bittering hops a bit next time to compensate for the tartness from the hibiscus. Maybe add a little maltodextrin to improve head retention. But other than that, I would definitely make this brew again!

Lessons Learned

  • I think this was a tad bit too much hibiscus, but not by much. Has a nice, acidic, floral character.
  • Still looking for ways to get more body. Next I'll try adding maltodextrin. 
  • But the beer tastes cleaner, so I think the processes are getting better!