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Homebrew #102: Hoarder Intervention #4

by Rob Friesel

Wherein I had ingredients leftover from other brew days and (shrugs) the “it’ll be beer-ish” philosophy takes over. Hoarder Intervention #4:

Long-time readers may remember that “Hoarder Intervention” is the name that I stick on my brews that are just cobbled-together Frankenstein beers — makeshift concoctions from the odds-and-ends leftover from other brew days, or else the samples that get given out to judges at competitions or else at club meetings.

This was no different. I had yet another small-ish bag of Skagit Valley NZ-151 (this time from a club meeting), some hops leftover from other brew days (Warrior from the 1 lb. bag I bought last fall, and Styrian Goldings from Zondag Meisje), a refrigerator drawer full of dry yeast packets… and 3 lb. of honey that moved cross-country with us.

What else was I going to do with these?

Brew Day

This was to be a small batch brew day — expected yield somewhere in the 2.5 to 3 gallon range. Out came ye olde starter kettle and an apparently brand-new-never-used brew bag for it.

Anyway — step one in our braggot brew day was to make the wort:

Hoarder Intervention #4 brew day

Onward to the boiling (30 minutes), and the chilling (ice bath1) to 105ºF; then honey into the fermentor and wort on top of that…

Hoarder Intervention #4 brew day

And then some brew day science. Just shy of 2.5 gallons of wort at 1.056 plus 3 lb. of wildflower honey combines to approx. 2.65 gallons at 1.091 after all the temperature calibration adjustments etc.

Hoarder Intervention #4 brew day

Fermentation

When the wort (must?2) was in the ballpark for pitching temperatures, I rehydrated the 11.5 g sachet of T-58 and pitched.

No Go-Ferm? No problem! It’s a Hoarder Intervention brew.

Lock in the controller at 62±1ºF and… see what happens? I didn’t know very much about T-58 nor what to expect from it.

I can tell you it made a thick and dense krausen. I can also tell you it threw a ton of sulfur aromas during the height of fermentation. I can also tell you that it stayed cloudy and murky for a long time, as the yeast more or less refused to flocculate.

After about two weeks, I racked it off the yeast cake in hopes that that would help it clear a bit.

Then after another week, I kegged it.

First preview pour after a week or so. Wooooo… needed time to mellow. Then again after about six weeks. “OK sure, I can evaluate that.”

Overall Impressions

This is absolutely an interesting concoction that I’m glad I made, but have zero idea how to evaluate.

N.b., evaluating more as a beer here, and not so much as a mead.

AROMA. Malt impressions are quite low; light bread character with supportive grainy-sweet notes. Hops are mostly in the background; light spicy and floral, though the latter could just as easily be attributed to the honey. Fermentation adds a moderately-strong phenolic element like white pepper and a moderate citrusy ester. Honey aromas are present but not particularly distinct — think floral-sweet. Low perfumy ethanol.

APPEARANCE. Gold color. Somewhat hazy. White head is initially quite pronounced but collapses quickly to a low mousse, but that persists significantly.

FLAVOR. Largely follows aroma. Fermentation notes lead with the moderately-strong peppery phenolic and moderate citrusy ester. There is also some perfumy ethanol retronasally. Malt character is moderately grainy-sweet with light bread notes, particularly in the mid-palate. Low floral and spicy hop notes; most evident retronasally. Honey contribution is moderate and presents as floral. Balance is about even, with the honey notes interplaying between the malt and hops. Bitterness is fairly low but is enough to balance. Dry finish.

MOUTHFEEL. Light body. Medium carbonation. Significant alcohol warming; somewhat drying but neither solventy nor harsh. No significant creaminess. No significant astringency.

OVERALL IMPRESSION. Hard to rank this one. It’s not unpleasant, but it doesn’t align neatly with expectations derived from any particular style. A braggot being such a wide-open field you wind up asking: “Well… do I like this?” And I think where I land on this one is that I don’t dislike it. Maybe not a glowing endorsement but hear me out…

For its strength, it drinks reasonably smoothly — but it’s still (you know) 10.1% and that comes with some baggage. Most of the major components here (malt, hops, honey) do not really shine here — they’re not absent but they’re also not distinct. It’s hard to tell if this is a consequence of the specific ingredients, or of their combination. Another possibility is that the aroma/flavor contributions of the yeast simply overwhelm everything else. This is rather a fermentation-forward beverage, with pretty strong phenolic and ester notes driving the flavor profile. This is not on-its-face a bad thing, but those flavors are largely evocative of a saison and — despite some alignment on ingredients — somehow this manages to otherwise not read like a saison.

So what does it read like?

A strong pale beer with some honey character and a saison-like fermentation profile.

Does it work? Yeah, I’ll take a snifter once in a while. It’s fine.

Recipe

The all-grain (BIAB) recipe for Hoarder Intervention #4 is as follows:

Water Chemistry

Starting with the Seattle municipal water profile (carbon filtered) as a base:

Target values in ppm
Ca Mg Na SO₄ Cl⁻ HCO₃⁻
51 9 6 75 60 23
  • 0.39 g/gal. calcium chloride
  • 0.33 g/gal. magnesium sulfate
  • 0.26 g/gal. calcium sulfate
  • 0.04 g/gal. sodium chloride

Grist

5 lb. Skagit Valley NZ-151 pale malt

Fermentables

3 lb. wildflower honey (mix with wort in fermentor)

Hop Schedule

  • 0.25 oz. Warrior (30 min.)
  • 1 oz. Styrian Goldings (0 min.)

Yeast

Fermentis SafBrew Specialty T-58 (rehydrated)

Brew Day

  1. Collect 13.92 qt. water and heat to 162.9°F. Mash in; hold at 156°F for 60 minutes. No mash out.
  2. Remove filter bag from water. Squeeze filter bag to extract as much liquid as possible for wort. No sparge. Pre-boil volume should be 3.11 gallons.
  3. Bring to a boil. Boil for 30 minutes; follow hop schedule as described above.
  4. Cool to 100°F as rapidly as possible. Post-boil volume should be approx. 2.5 gallons.
  5. Add honey to fermentor and combine with warm wort. Stir vigorously to combine. Cool to pitching temperatures.
  6. Aerate wort; pitch rehydrated T-58 yeast.
  7. Start fermentation at 62°F.

Beyond Brew Day

  1. Allow fermentation to complete (approx. 2 weeks) at 62±1°F.
  2. Rack off yeast cake to another vessel. Allow remaining sedimentation to take place and braggot to clarify another 1-2 weeks.
  3. Rack to keg and force carbonate to approx. 2.3 volumes.
  4. Enjoy!

Details

Hoarder Intervention #4, an odds-and-ends braggot by Tilde Gravitywerks

Original Gravity 1.091
Final Gravity 1.016
ABV 10.1%
Attenuation 81.3%
IBU 21
SRM 9
Links Flickr
  1. …because there doesn’t seem to be a way to hook up the wort chiller to my kitchen sink? []
  2. Seriously not sure whether you have wort or must when you’re making a braggot. []

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night; weekend homebrewer. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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