Recipe Review: Cayla’s Waison

Cayla's Waison

The temperatures are rising in Brooklyn, and fermenting a beer without temperature control can be a challenge. Enter Saison.

I decided to take a traditional wit recipe and adapt it as a Saison and brew it as a small batch. Basically, this beer is all about the malted wheat, with a little bit of flaked oats thrown in for good measure. It’s hopped with saaz, and finished with chamomile, corainder and orange peel. Instead of going with a traditional wit yeast, I fermented this one with the (deservedly) infamous Wyeast Belgian Saison.

This one’s a witbier in every sense, except for the yeast. It’s malt-forward, with a dry and creamy mouthfeel (likely from the oats), and a refreshing, floral and earthy finish. I took it to my local homebrew club and got “cinnamon toast crunch” and (most interestingly) “the ham from lunchables”. I’m going to choose to take that as a compliment. I’m re-brewing a 5gal batch with a little bit more citrus and less chamomile as well as a little cardamom, since I think the vegetal earthiness dominated this first attempt. See below for the recipe.

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 2.62 gal
Post Boil Volume: 1.87 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 1.50 gal
Bottling Volume: 1.25 gal
Estimated OG: 1.048 SG
Estimated Color: 3.2 SRM
Estimated IBU: 12.3 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 82.2 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt Name Type # %/IBU
1 lbs 12.8 oz Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 67.9 %
3.6 oz Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 2 8.5 %
3.6 oz Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM) Grain 3 8.5 %
6.4 oz Extra Light Dry Extract (3.0 SRM) Dry Extract 4 15.1 %
0.25 oz Saaz [4.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 5 12.3 IBUs
1.00 tbsp Chamomile (Boil 5.0 mins) Herb 6 –
1.00 oz Orange Peel, Bitter (Peel of 1 Orange) ( Spice 7 –
0.10 oz Coriander Seed (Boil 5.0 mins) Spice 8 –
0.25 oz Saaz [4.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min Hop 9 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Belgian Saison (Wyeast Labs #3724) [124. Yeast 10 –
Mash Schedule: BIAB, Full Body
Total Grain Weight: 2 lbs 10.4 oz
Name Description Step Temperat Step Time
Saccharification Add 2.79 gal of water at 160.0 F 156.0 F 60 min
Mash Out Heat to 168.0 F over 7 min 168.0 F 10 min

Sparge: Remove grains, and prepare to boil wort
Mshed in, temperature settled at about 155F. Covered with towel, placed top of the igloo mashtun on top of the kettle lid, left on the stove (no gas) for 75min.

Temperature at start of mash: 155F

Temperature at 75min of mash: 146F

1 whirlfloc @ 10min
1 dose of Wyeast Yeast Nutrient @ 10min

Late-addition of light DME @ 5min

Recipe Review: Noble Cream Ale



That tasty looking beer right there is my experimental re-brew of the Newburgh Cream Ale recipe I posted a while back. In order to get a better feel for the role of the hops, I swapped out all the Cascade additions for East Kent Goldings.

What resulted is probably the most refreshing, straight forward, tall-boy-worthy beer I’ve ever brewed. It’s got a nice soft malt backbone and a slight mineral bitterness from the english hops, but overall it’s an exceptionally clean and easy-drinking beer.

I can see why Newburgh adds that Cascade addition in the whirlpool. Next time, I’d like to play around with that late hop addition, and throw something exotic and fruity or floral in there to add just a slight twist to this north american classic. Maybe Glacier? Nelson Sauvin? See below for the recipe.

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 6.28 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.98 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.00 gal
Bottling Volume: 4.60 gal
Estimated OG: 1.046 SG
Estimated Color: 3.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 21.4 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 82.8 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt Name Type # %/IBU
5 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 57.1 %
1 lbs 12.0 oz Wheat Malt, Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 2 20.0 %
1 lbs Barley, Flaked (1.7 SRM) Grain 3 11.4 %
1 lbs Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 4 11.4 %
0.75 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] – Boil 60.0 Hop 5 13.3 IBUs
0.60 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] – Boil 30.0 Hop 6 8.2 IBUs
0.65 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] – Aroma Steep Hop 7 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg German Ale (Wyeast Labs #1007) [124.21 m Yeast 8 –

Mash Schedule: Double Infusion, Light Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 8 lbs 12.0 oz
Name Description Step Temperat Step Time
Protein Rest Add 1.97 gal of water at 132.1 F 122.0 F 30 min
Saccharification Add 1.75 gal of water at 183.2 F 148.0 F 30 min
Mash Out Add 1.97 gal of water at 209.8 F 168.0 F 10 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun, , 1.89gal) of 168.0 F water
Fermented fairly warm, around 67-68 for 2 weeks. At this temp, fermentation finished fairly quickly and cleanly.

Taste after primary: Bitter, slight roasty dry quality thanks to the german yeast I’m guessing. More like a british pale/bitter than Newburgh. Also picked up some roastiness from the residual Northern German Alt from the yeast cake. Pretty straightforward and should be very nice for those who don’t love American hops.

After 2 weeks in primary, cold crashed to 40F.

After 1 week @ 40F, added gelatin.

After 1 week, racked 4gal to keg and bottled off 1gal.

Newburgh Cream Ale

If you ever find yourself in New York’s majestic Hudson Valley and you get a hankering for some awesome craft beer, I urge you to check out Newburgh Brewing Company. It’s a diamond in the rough of Newburgh, NY housed in the building of an old paper box factory right on the bank of the Hudson river. The taproom is casual and fun, the food is delicious, and the beer is great.

My favorite comercial session beer hands down is their Cream Ale, a hoppy, floral interpretation of the somewhat forgotten but classically american style. It’s dry, crisp and clean, slightly fruity from the hops and massively drinkable. If you know someone who says they don’t like craft beer “because it’s too heavy”, give them a pint of this.

I was lucky enough to talk Chris, the brewmaster, and convince him to share the basic recipe for this beer. I’ve now brewed it myself a number of times and it’s not exactly dead on, but pretty close to the commercial version and definitely fantastic. Seriously, give this one a try. See below for the recipe, with permission from Chris:

“60% Crisp Pale Ale Malt

20% Weyermann Wheat Malt

10% Flaked Barley

10% Flaked Oats

Protein rest at 122 F

Raise to 152 F rest for 60 minutes

Cascades at 60 minutes for 15 IBU

EKG at 30 minutes for 8 IBU

Cascades at flamout for 12 IBU (At least on my scale where the wort is 215 degrees F and it sits like that during whirlpool and castout of probably 1 1/2 hours you do get some IBUS out of that) I believe I calculate the usage on that at about 12% utilization or so.


Ferment at 60 F with White Labs Dry English Ale Yeast 007. If not using as high an attenuating yeast (1056 would probably be fine) I would do the sacharification rest at closer to 150. You should be looking for about 11.2 Plato to start and finish around 3.5 Plato or so.  Nothing really special in the fermentor just your normal procedures should do just fine.”

Sour Summer Sampler!

This weekend the girlfriend and I went over to Browerij Lane, my favorite beer bar in the neighborhood, to beat the heat and try some interesting new stuff.  When we arrived, we noticed that six of the beers on the chalkboard were highlighted in red. Little did we know that it was the weekend of the Sour Summer Sampler! They were pouring flights of 6 hard-to-find sours for 20 bucks. Done and done.

Here are some tasting notes we compiled, in order from lightest to darkest. The girlfriend’s completely scientific rating is listed under C and mine’s under B.

Cisco Lady of the Woods

“Nantuckett’s Cisco brewers aren’t necessarily known for their sour ales, but they create some of America’s best. This 5% wild ale has chardonnay-like vinous notes, tropical fruit, coconut, oak and funk.”

  • Aroma: Butterscotch, coconut, hints of Diacetyl. Oaky and carmelized.
  • Taste: Oak, burnt candy and vanilla. Almost like a dry chardonnay. Hints of papaya with some classic wild-ale fermentation funk. Really nice dry finish with strong vanilla aftertaste. I liked this one a lot.

Completely Scientific Rating:

B:97, C:90

Cantillon Fou’ Foune

“This relatively modern lambic was added to the Cantillon lineup in 1998 and named after Francois Daronnat, a french apricot grower nicknamed ‘foufoune’.”

  • Aroma: Dried apricots, plain and simple. Also, red jolly ranchers?
  • Taste: Lots of dried apricots up front, finished very quickly and really fry. Very sour with a light body. Slight bitterness. A beautiful, elegant example of a sour beer. Fantastic!

Completely Scientific Rating:

B:98, C:96

Birrifico le Baladin Nora Sour

“The original beer (before its sour treatment) recreated and ancient egyptian beer recipe. Ginger, myrrh, and orange peel are incorporated, as well as unmated kamu wheat. This version’s bacterial fermentation lends a gentle tartness which compliments this beer’s delicate honey and orange flavors.”

  • Aroma: Honey, herbaceous. Slight orange-peel aroma.
  • Taste: Compared to the others, not really sour at all. A thick, syrupy mouthfeel, very similar to an under-fermetned mead. Wine yeast flavor, along with honey, wheat and candied orange. Too sickly sweet for my tastes.

Completely Scientific Rating:

B:68, C:72

BFM Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien

“L’abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien is a unique ale aged in wooden casks which have been used several years before to age merlot, cabernet, whiskey, and then grappa. The simple pre-barrel amber ale base is described by BFM’s Jerome Rebetez as ‘a prostitute’, a simple, balanced strong ale that readily takes on the character of each of the barrels he’s chosen to introduce.”

  • Aroma: Classic sour lactobacillus smell. Hints of raspberry and cherry.
  • Taste: Very winey, in a good way. Raspberry and grape up front, finishing like a medium-bodied leathery red wine. Background hints of malt and wild fermentation. Not a whole lot of mouthfeel on this one, finishing quickly with a slight bit of residual sweetness.

Completely Scientific Rating:

B:90, C:89

Gulpner Bierbrowerij Mestreechs Aajt

“This is a strange one … a belnd of ‘Hollandish’ oud bruin around 3.5% alc/vol, dortmunder lager bockbier around 6.5% alc/vol, and the primeval beer. The ‘primal’ beer has been aged in traditional wooden barrels. It introduced lactobacilli, brettanomyces, and other microflora.”

  • Aroma: Lager and dark-roasted malt aroma of a Schwarzbier.
  • Taste: This one was awesome. Dead-on Schwarzbier lager character in front, followed by the sour plum and stone fruit. Finished really cleanly like a black lager, with hints of roast and molasses-like residual sweetness.

Completely Scientific Rating:

B:94, C:98

Picobrouwerij Alvinne Freddy Wild

“Alvinne is one of Belgium’s newest and most highly regarded breweries. This beer is often referred to as ‘straight freddy’, a wild ale with notes of molasses, dark fruit, coffee, red wine and blackberries.”

  • Aroma: Coffee and tart cherries.
  • Taste: Almost dead-on coffee porter flavor up front, followed by a sour finish with lots of blackberries and tart cherries. Noticeable alcohol, with a solid leathery sweetness. Stays drinkable for such a roasty beer, kind of like a dry irish stout.

Completely Scientific Rating:

B:93, C:88

All together, a fantastic group of unusual beers!

Beer Review: Sixpoint Brownstone Ale

Brooklyn could use more breweries like Sixpoint. They’re local, they’re experimental, and they’re good. I like them for what they represent around here, but to be honest I don’t always like their beers. Sweet Action is pretty good, but too malty and indelicate for my tastebuds. Bengali Tiger is way too muddy and overwhelming both in malt and hop character. Its the beer equivalent of turning your clock radio up so loud that you can no longer make out the music. On the other hand, there are the one-offs and the limited releases. For whatever reason, I’ve enjoyed these immensely more than the standard fare. Maybe its a matter of freshness?

It was pretty dark in the restaurant, but you wouldn’t be able to see through this beer anyway.

I got my first taste of one of these local draught-only brews on a recent trip into DUMBO to check out Jack the Horse Tavern, an establishment whose name I’ve grown uncomfortable saying aloud. Regardless, they had awesome burgers and a pretty nice beer selection including Brownstone, Sixpoint’s take on a classic American Brown Ale.

Color: As you might expect, a deep rich brown. Nearly opaque with a thin tan head.

Aroma: Piney, citrusy Amercian hops. I’m guessing they used some Chinook.

Taste: Nutty and chocolatey, finishing with a bit of dank pine. A really light body and delicate malt character throughout. Malt bitterness was low, but detectable. Nothing overwhelming, a really solid example of this style.

Completely Scientific Rating: 90

For those of you accustomed to some of the more over-the-top offerings from this brewery, I’d suggest checking this one out for a nice change of pace.

Beer Review: Stoudt’s Gold Lager

Stoudt's Gold Lager

We played trivial pursuit while we drank. It is best to test one’s knowledge throughout all stages of inebriation.

The more I brew and drink beer, the harder it is to impress me. I’m not talking about beer snobbery (although I’ve been known to suffer from it occasionally), I’m talking about technical skillEvery home brewer knows that some styles are more “forgiving” than others in terms of off-flavors. Don’t get me wrong, I love a palate-wrecking quadruple IPA as much as the next guy, but what’s much more rare and exciting for me is finding a super clean, fresh, well-handled Kolsch or Bohemian Pilsner. Those styles don’t hide flaws, and you have to be pretty damn good to pull them off well.

I encountered one really good example of this kind of skill at a recent trip to Breukelen Bier Merchants in Williamsburg: a German Helles called Stoudt’s Gold Lager.

Color: Like the name suggests, this beer is  supremely clear, bright gold in color.

Aroma: The aroma is minimal,  a bit spicy from the hops.

Taste: A really nice rush of noble hop bitterness up front, but nothing too overwhelming. The finish is very smooth, with subtle graininess. This beer has none of the overwhelming hop character that many domestic craft lagers have, and it works because it’s such a squeaky clean beer. As a lowly home brewer, it makes me jealous.

Completely Scientific Rating: 93

When you look up “drinkability” in the dictionary, there should just be a picture of this beer. You should also throw the dictionary away, because no self-respecting dictionary should contain that word.