About the time I was hashing out my third attempt at a business plan for Third Leap, I was fortunate to stumble across Topher Boehm’s farmhouse beer blog. I was originally researching the effect of fermentor geometry on ester and phenol production in beer, but quickly came across Boehm’s post expressing his opinion of what farmhouse beer is. His thoughts resonated with me and echoed several of the key philosophies I was embracing with Third Leap at the time. While I highly recommend reading Boehm’s piece for yourself here are my favorite elements:
“Farmhouse beer is not a style, it’s a product of a place with the substance of that place”
“A Farmhouse brewery has a connection with the land…”
“…Farmhouse brewing is a letting go of the production and an embracing of nature’s timeline”
“You produce a beer with a soul”
Product of a place, connection with the land, embracing nature’s timeline – these three concepts are identical to Third Leaps; local terroir, farm-to-glass, and slow beer. Pretty awesome that similar thinking exists in two different hemispheres!
I have always envisioned the flagship of Third Leap to be a rustic, old-world saison (aka farmhouse ale). Buried deep within my mind is the vision of a refreshing, moderately bitter deep golden ale with fruit, spice, earth, floral, and barnyard elements, mild tartness and a very dry finish. The concept is so tangible that I can taste it!
For the first iteration of farmhouse ale, I tailored the malt and hop bill around those which I could eventually purchase locally, through Valley Malt and Four Star Farms, while simultaneously using the traditional ingredients outlined in Farmhouse Ales. Pilsner malt topped the list, but I also included pale for a subtle sweetness. Flaked oats and rye malt are adjuncts that were commonly used on farms depending on availability and cost, and they also contribute a nice haze to the beer. The chocolate malt was added only during the sparge to contribute color (and not roastiness), but future recipe iterations will swap the chocolate malt for a longer boil duration. Willamette hops were selected based on local availability but also for their herbal, spicy, and floral characteristics. For yeast, I wanted to use a foraged strain, however my only samples were tied up in the first attempt of the table ale. So instead, I grew up dregs from Fantôme Saison, Fantôme Pissenlit, Jester King Ambrée, and Sante Adarius Farmhouse Noir and pitched each into its own 2.5-gallon fermentor. I intend to give them a couple months to ferment before packaging.
Farmhouse Ale #1
Style: 25B – Strong Belgian Ale – Saison
Description: Refreshing, moderately-bitter and moderate-strength beer with a very dry finish that features a fruity, spicy, and farmhouse yeast character with moderate tartness.
Batch size: 10 gallons
31% Domestic pilsner (Canada) @ Mash
31% Domestic pale (Great Western) @ Mash
21% Domestic flaked oats @ Mash
15% Domestic rye malt @ Mash
2% Domestic chocolate malt @ Sparge
7 IBU Willamette pellets @ 15
Fantôme Saison dregs
Fantôme Pissenlit dregs
Jester King Ambrée dregs
Sante Adarius Farmhouse Noir dregs
Water treatment: Farmhouse Ales water profile
Mash technique: Infusion @ 144°F for 60 minutes
Kettle volume: 12.5 gallons
Boil duration: 60 minutes
Final volume: 10 gallons
Fermentation temp: 72°F
Notes: Brewed with Flynn on 10/9/2016. pH values were measured at 5.5/5.7/5.91/5.8/5.69 (mash/2nd run/3rd run/preboil/postboil).
No oxygen. Knocked out at 68°F and pitched dregs. Let them ferment at ambient temperature with no temperature control.
Transferred to kegs on 12/27/2015. Pellicles evident in Pissenlit, Ambrée, and Farmhouse Noir fermentors, but not Saison. FG/pH readings were 1.004/3.93 (Saison), 1.005/3.88 (Pissenlit), 1.007/3.32 (Ambrée), and 1.010/3.45 (Farmhouse Noir).
Tasting notes from 2/10/2016.