The story of this beer started back in July when I brewed my Seven Blessings imperial rye saison and purchased 2 vials of The Yeast Bay‘s Saison Blend and ended up making a starter with one of them instead of pitching both vials. Then at end of August I looked at the extra vial and saw that it’s best by date was 9/18/14. Being that I wanted make sure to use the yeast and to keep things simple I decided to brew a 3.25 gallon batch of a “Farmhouse Pale Ale” or a hoppy American pale ale fermented with saison yeast. Though by doing so I was left with the dilemma of whether to use my 10 gallon mash tun or to sacrifice efficiency and mash using the “brew in a bag” method. With a 6 lbs grain bill, in the end it was a no brainer to go for brewing in a bag because of the time and effort that I could save on brew day. In order to increase my chances of achieving an acceptable mash efficiency I milled the grains twice. However, once the mash was over and I took a pre boil gravity reading (see video), I realized that I should have set my efficiency target to 70% instead of 72%. In other words, I didn’t hit my target gravity.
Then my overoptimism kicked in again as I convinced myself that boiling for 70 minutes instead of 60 would help me make up some of the lost gravity points. This seemingly logical solution was squashed when I took my post boil gravity and saw that I had again not hit my target gravity. So I went back to BeerSmith and realized that I should have started with less water (I started with 5.94 gallons) and taken into account my use of a colander to “lauter” the grains…In the end I wasn’t too bummed because I was shooting for a lower ABV beer anyways, and having just experienced my first over one gallon “brew in a bag” brew day since my first all grain batch in 2009. I learned enough from my mistakes to know what to do differently next time.
Recipe Formulation: Having brewed a saison recently I wanted to make sure to use a combination of malts used in both American pale ales and saisons. American Pale Ale: 2-row pale malt, crystal/caramel 20L; Saison: Aromatic, Vienna, White Wheat. For the hops I chose Magnum as a clean bittering hop, Ahtanum as a citrusy yet not to high in AA% flavor and aroma hop, and Galaxy to increase the bold hop flavors stemming from this beers American side. As stated above, I chose the yeast solely based on the fact that I wanted to use it before its best by date. Note: I plan on dry hopping this beer with more Ahtanum and Galaxy hops once primary fermentation ends.
If you have any tips on the “brew in a bag” method that you’d like to share feel free to comment below. Cheers!