Evolution #3: Farmhouse Ale Tasting

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Time is change, transformation, evolution.

This farmhouse ale is the third rendition of our Evolution Series, which seeks to embrace the natural, spontaneous mutation within our foraged Massachusetts yeast. Evolution #3 is particularly interesting because it is the last number brewed in 2016 AND the last number brewed in Massachusetts!

To date, six Evolution recipes have been brewed (yes, we are a little behind in posting!):

Last December, I brewed a 10-gallon batch of The Rare Barrel Golden Sour recipe for what was to become Continuum. On brew day, I made some changes to the recipe to accommodate what I had on hand – removing the spelt and aromatic malt, and substituting my homegrown Cascade and Centennial hops for ~10 IBUs. I mashed at 152°F for 60 minutes and followed that up with a standard 60-minute boil. Meanwhile, in my HLT, I brought 10 gallons of treated water to a boil and combined it into the Boil Kettle to product 20 gallons of 1.042 SG wort. The wort was chilled to 65°F and transferred into a 15-gallon Sanke keg.

The original plan was to ferment Continuum for ~12 months before methodically removing beer for packaging and replacing it with fresh wort or beer as part of a continuous sour project, or solera. Since Continuum was set to reside in a Sanke keg, I had some extra wort to play with for Evolution #3. I diverted one gallon of wort into a small carboy and pitched the lees from Evolution #2 (fourth generation Massachusetts yeast).

Evolution #3 was packaged in early April and the first bottle was consumed on August 5. The beer sensory overview, tasting notes, and recipe can be found below:

Appearance – A burst of soft white foam covers and lingers atop the glowing orange beer. The glass is vibrant, full of tiny bubbles. The head retention is long lasting and excellent, though there are no visible lace remnants on the glass.

Smell – The familiar aromas of our Massachusetts yeast is something that I have come to love. This rendition features prominent notes of flower (rose) and citrus (lime), not unlike Sprite. There are unmistakable aromas of peach skin, white grape juice, and even Champagne! I can also detect a subtle, yet pleasant fresh cut grass aroma. And for the first time in the Evolution series, I perceive some musty horse blanket aromas, reminiscent of Brettanomyces.

Taste – The aroma carries over into the taste; most prominently, citrus lemon and lime (it’s very much like Gatorade). There are also hints of black peppercorn, biscuit, and cracker that scream saison. As the beer warms, Granny Smith apple and Sauvignon Blanc flavors reveal themselves. And, of course, there is the ever-present taste of overripe banana that has become somewhat of a hallmark for our Massachusetts yeast. This time, however, the banana is more subtle.

Mouthfeel – There is a pleasantly soft acidic element that plays well with the intentional dry mouthfeel and thin body.

Overall – Evolution #3 is undoubtedly a refreshing and easy drinking farmhouse ale. One happy accident in this batch is the unintentional presence of lactic acid bacteria, which I fully expected to develop at some point. I used excess wort from another project for this one and it shows – the beer lacks the type of authentic character that I am searching for to be a staple in the Third Leap lineup. All in all, the beer is pleasant, but nothing special. This would be an excellent recipe to add grape must or pomace to enhance its naturally occurring wine character.

Changes for Next Time – Yet another beer that would benefit from some earthy dry hopping notes! I think dry hopping will become somewhat of a standard moving forward with many of farmhouse recipes. I am also considering adding oak to some future recipes to try and impart tannins for body and mouthfeel support.

Evolution #3 (Farmhouse Ale)

Style: 25B – Strong Belgian Ale – Saison

Description: Our third foray into the world of repitched Massachusetts yeast!

Batch size: 1 gallon
OG: 1.042
FG:  1.004
Efficiency: 79%
ABV: 5.0%
IBU: 11
SRM: 3

Ingredients:

71% Domestic pilsner @ Mash
22% White wheat @ Mash
7% Flaked oats @ Mash

10 IBU Homegrown Cascade/Centennial hop flowers @ 60

Fourth generation Massachusetts yeast

Water treatment: Bru’n Water Yellow Balanced
Mash technique: Single Infusion @ 152°F for 60 minutes
Kettle volume: 20 gallons
Boil duration: 60 minutes
Final volume: 1 gallon
Fermentation temp: 65°F
Notes: Brewed solo on 12/10/2016. Originally part of the 20 gallon Continuum solera project, I diverted one gallon to a small carboy and pitched the lees from Evolution #2. Fermented at room temperature.

4/14/2017 – Packaged with dextrose with a target carbonation of 3.0 volumes in 12 oz bottles.

5/6/2017 – Moved the box of bottles into a U-Haul for the long drive out to Idaho.

8/5/2017 – Cracked open the first bottle in Boise!

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