Wednesday, February 3, 2010

BugFarm Brew

So I was lucky enough to get a tube of Al's most recent BugFarm batch a few weeks ago. I had been meaning to brew up something to pitch it into, but all of my fermentors had been full. Finally I got off my but and rearranged somethings (racking my last lambic into smaller carboys with fruit) so that I could brew up batch.
My inspiration for this batch really has to go back to the Rustic Saison I brewed last in last summer. I really loved the body and color of the batch (here's a pic). The malt bill for the batch was pretty simple, just 2-row, biscuit, and flaked spelt. Now Ive obviously used 2-row before as well as biscuit malt, but I hadn't ever used spelt before. The beer had a wonderfully thick mouthfeel and a very nice earthy flavor that is really hard to describe. On top of that it was a beautiful golden color, which was something I really wanted to recreate in the sour beer. I really attribute most of the body and flavor to the spelt, I don't really know if it affected the color much (there was quite a bit of biscuit in it) but I really wanted to use the grain again in another beer.

Unfortunately this time around I wasn't able to find flaked spelt, but I was lucky enough to find spelt berries. This meant that I wouldn't be able to do a single infusion on the beer, and would instead have to do a cereal mash to get much of anything from the spelt. This really got me thinking of how I could make sure there was a lot to eat for all the bugs Al put in the blend. I decided to do a cereal mash with 2lbs of the spelt, and add the last pound (ground to flour) when sparging. I'm hoping that by doing this I ensured that a ton of starch and long chain dextrines made it into the wort to feed the bugs for the long run. Word of caution if anyone else tries this, make sure to make a paste with the flour before adding it. It seems very intuitive, especially with how much I cook, but I just added the dry flour directly to the mash and made a million little dough balls that I had to take a lot of time to break up.

So now that part of the malt bill was decided upon, I still wanted to make sure to recreate the beautiful golden color of the saison. Now I didn't really want to use biscuit malt in this beer because I really didn't think the flavor would fit well in a sour, so I went looking for another malt that was very close color-wise to biscuit. It was strange because I had been thinking about the honey malt recently, and new ways to incorporate it into different beers, so it was really nice that it just happened to be nearly the same color as biscuit.

Honey malt is a pretty interesting malt, it can be very overpowering even at 1/4lb in lighter beers, but with a light touch it adds a very nice depth and sweetness to any beer. Well, instead of getting just a hint in this beer, I dropped a honey malt bomb. I decided to use 2lbs of it in the beer. With the sours Ive made in the past, the crystal malts tend to have very little impact on the final flavor profile, but there's always a hint of them if your looking. I'm hoping that by using such a strongly flavored malt that a good portion of the flavor will make its way through to the final product. I think a sour with a touch of sweetness, even if its only perceived, would be very nice.

In the end a portion of this brew will get racked onto a caramelized date syrup. Ive been playing with making and using this on several small batches in the last few months and I think this will be a good match for it. The other 3+gallons I'm not sure about yet, Ill have to wait and see how it tastes.

BugFarm Brew
Malt Bill

Amt (lbs)


3.0Spelt Berries
2.0Honey Malt
Amt (oz)TypeTime
1.0Crystal (3.3%)60
Mash Schedule

152F - Cereal Mash

2lb spelt and 1lb 2-row



Cap with 1lb of Spelt

1.75qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastAl B's BugFarm Batch 3
85% effIBU10
6.5gal BoilFG-


David Ryan said...

Did you do a tasting review? I am wondering if the honey malt made a difference.

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