Table Ale #2 was the second attempt at realizing my perfect summer session beer. Brewed in February with Flynn, this iteration featured six major recipe/process changes from batch #1. Change outcomes and abbreviated tasting notes can be found below.
Higher mash temperature
Jumping the mash temperature from 144°F to 160°F should have resulted in less starch conversion, leaving the beer with more unfermentable dextrines, thus a higher final gravity (FG) and fuller body. This technique worked with limited success as FG increased from 1.001 to 1.006. Despite the gravity jump, the body was still underwhelming.
Lower fermentation temperature
Dropping the fermentation temperature from 70°F to 66°F should have lowed yeast metabolic activity, leaving the beer with fewer byproducts like fruity esters and solventy higher order alcohols. While I didn’t quantify the difference in byproducts, sensory evaluation revealed the beer successfully lacked the aggressive Belgian phenols and esters found in batch #1.
Hiking the oat and wheat grist percentages from a combined 30% to 46% should have created more suspended particles (proteins and polyphenols), leaving the beer permanently hazy. This technique was successful through subjective qualitative visual assessment as the beer was noticeably hazier (on par with some New England examples) than batch #1.
Altered water profile
Adjusting the water chemistry from a traditional IPA (high sulfate) profile to a New England IPA (high chloride) profile should have reduced sulfate levels, leaving the beer with a softer, creamier mouthfeel. In combination with a higher mash temperature and more oats/wheat, this technique worked well as the beer exhibits a softer mouthfeel than batch #1.
Upping the hopping rate from 1.1 oz/gal to 1.4 oz/gal should have increased the level of iso-alpha acids and isohumulones, leaving the beer with a more bittering units, thus more bitterness. This technique was successful as calculated IBU and perceived bitterness levels were noticeably more than batch #1.
Double dry hop
Increasing the dry hop addition from one to two and shifting the first addition to day 7 should have allowed for biotransformation of hop oils in the presence of yeast, leaving the beer with a more complex (citronellol and terpineol anyone?) hop aroma. Unfortunately, this technique was not implemented due to conflicting business travel.
With four beers to taste through, I skipped full tasting notes and provided 10-word highlights for each beer instead.
Cascade dry hop – floral aroma, sweet orange zest, juicy peach/apricot, pithy finish
Rakau dry hop – lemon/grapefruit rind, black pepper, grapefruit juice, orange flesh finish
Centennial dry hop – orange juice/pith/rind, floral and spicy, slight astringent finish
Mixed (Cascade, Rakau, Centennial) dry hop – soapy aroma, sweet orange, rosey floral and orange peel finish
Unlike the Table Ale #1 tasting, I thoroughly enjoyed all of these beers. The color and opacity was exactly what I had in mind when I first built the recipe back in August 2015. The bitterness level was also much improved, though perhaps a smidge lower than what I want. Carbonation and body were good, with the latter still a emphasis for future batches. Phenols were noticeably absent, however I still could pick up on some of the fruity esters I often associate with saison yeast. The orange flavor and aromas present in all variants was very pleasant and promising. Overall, my preference was the Cascade dry hop (best flavor and finish), Centennial dry hop (straight orange juice), Rakau dry hop (too spicy), and finally, Mixed dry hop (too bland).