Regalic Saison: Grain to Glass

I’ve been wanting to do a wine/beer hybrid for a while.  At first I thought about selecting a beer style and a wine varietal and directly blending wine into the finished beer to taste prior to packaging.  But I was at a loss as to what beer style and wine flavors would mesh.  So I put it off.  Then I found a kit recipe on Northern Brewer called Antithesis where it used a saison base and yeast with Nelson Sauvin hops and a cabernet sauvignon grape concentrate.  I converted the Northern Brewer recipe into my Brewers Friend account, adjusting the grain bill for my process efficiency and dialing into NB’s target OG.  But then when I went to the LHBS to get ingredients, they were out of Alexander’s Sun Country Cab Sauvignon concentrate.  The only other white they had was muscat which I wasn’t too familiar with.  Since I was out a couple of weeks from brewing, I got everything but the grape concentrate and did some research.  Muscat is the varietal that is used to make Moscato wine.  For whatever reason, I’ve never had moscato.  And when I tried to find examples of this varietal being used in beer, I didn’t find much on the homebrew circuit but there is one commercial example, Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch.  So I decided to give it the green light and purchased the muscat.  Also, in NB’s recipe it appeared that it would be too hoppy so I dialed the amounts of hops back a bit.

Regalic Saison (5 Gallon BIAB)

Brew Date: 2/13/15

Grist:

10 lbs Castle Pilsner

1.3 lbs Carapils

Strike Water:  5.2 gallons @ 162F

Mash: 152F for 75 min

Sparge: 2 gallons @ 170F

Boil: 60 min

Hops:  Nelson Sauvin (11.4%AA): 0.25 oz @60min, 1.0 oz @20min, 0.5 oz @ 5min

Grape Concentrate:  one 46oz can of Alexander’s Sun Country Muscat Grape Concentrate at flameout

Yeast:  Wyeast French Saison 3711

Actual OG:  1.073      Estimated IBU’s: 40.3

I let this ferment for 2 weeks.  Airlock activity was consistent for 5 days until it calmed down.  I didn’t really temperature control.  My house is set to 73 and saison strains tend to do better on the warmer side.  I wanted to make sure that the belgian yeast character came through in the end. After the two weeks I transferred to the bottling bucket along with sugar priming solution (2/3cups sugar in 2 cups of water).  I wanted this to be on the higher side for carbonation.  I also took an FG reading, and holy shit, it went down all the way to 1.001. That brought the estimated ABV to a whopping 9.5%.  Definitely not what I expected.  On tasting, it was dry and boozy.  That belgian yeast aroma was there also.  I wasn’t completely sold at this point  on whether I had a success on my hands.  But I knew I brewed it well.  It now comes down to whether the recipe is good or needs tweaking.  I went ahead and bottled it.  I wanted to find out if my new Tap-a-Draft worked so I decided to fill a 6L bottle.  The rest were a couple of 750mL and the rest went into 12 ouncers.  The bottles sat to condition for two weeks before I refrigerated the Tap-A-Draft bottle and then tapped it .

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It did turn out highly carbonated (I was shooting for 2.6 vol).  It was a beautiful straw yellow and hazy.  The head was thick and somewhat creamy looking.  The aroma was winey and boozy with some belgian character to it.  The taste is a musky grape which is characteristic of muscat.  It immediately gives you that boozy warmth upon sipping, just like a glass of wine.  But what’s weird is that it is rather easy to drink and so it will end up hitting you hard if you aren’t careful.  Erika and I found this out firsthand one night.  So it came out stronger than I was aiming for but it’s pretty good in its own right.  Next time, I’m going to cut back the grape concentrate by half and allow the hops and malt to come foward a little bit and hope that the grape will become more of a supporting actor.  And that will become a different beer altogether.    But overall I’m pleased with how this came out.     By the way, the Tap-A-Draft worked great without any issues.  I love that thing.

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