Omega Saisonstein’s Monster Review

Chicago’s Omega Yeast Labs is fairly new to the brewing scene and even newer to homebrewers. They offer some interesting new strains not available at the other big suppliers. One of which is Saisonstein’s Monster – a Saison strain that is actually a blend of two of their other offerings. I picked up a pouch at U.Brew and tested it out on my annual pumpkin ale. Here’s what I thought of it:

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For me, DuPont is the definitive Saison and its yeast is the only proper yeast for the style if you want to follow tradition. However, Omega offers an alternative that does have its place in the growing spectrum of Saisons.

I had never used an Omega yeast before so I really didn’t know what to expect. I decided to split a batch of Pumpkin ale at 1076 OG between the Saisonstein and a popular English strain from a different supplier. In building the starters, the Saisonstein seemed to have more liquid yeast than the competitor and it looked to be very clean and consistent. I’m not sure on the cell counts, but it looked more than sufficient.

I put the yeast through my version of the DuPont fermentation program: start at 70F and ramp up 2 degrees a day until stopping at 84F and then dropping down to ambient temp. The krausen never raged like the DuPont strain and it seemed more even tempered. There was no stalling – just a steady, thick, about 1-2″ krausen until fermentation completed, which point it flocced out fairly quickly. It did leave things fairly cloudy, but it was hard to gauge for sure with the dark pumpkin ale. The finishing gravity was 1009 so that’s 87% attenuation – well within the advertised range which is quite respectable considering the temperature abuse I put things through.

The aroma reminded me a lot of a German Hefe with some banana and clove notes, but not nearly as prominent as a Hefe. The taste had some of that banana and clove, but the majority of the flavor was a fruity, almost mango like character. It was surprisingly well balanced and clean though. Do not expect any of the rustic, grassy, barnyardy characters you get out of DuPont. However, it does remind me of some of the cleaner, American Saisons, such as Revolution’s Coup D’Etat. I could see using this yeast again, only not in a Saison – I see this being a lot of fun in a Belgian Golden or even a Trippel.

Classic Styles Made Easy – Berliner Weisse

After finding success with a simple Hefeweizen recipe that was just wheat malt extract, I decided to up my game and try a slightly more involved style with the Berliner Weisse.  Staying true to the spirit of simplicity, the grain bill here is only wheat malt extract.

Getting the lactose in could be achieved in several different ways.  The easiest method would be to add the lactose at kegging or bottling, but I didn’t want to go that route.  I wanted lactose produced by lactobacillus.  To do that, there are two different methods.  The first method is the sour mash.  This involves making the mash and allowing it to remain warm for a few days to let the lactobacillus ferment.  In addition to the lactobacillus fermenting, other bugs in the mash will also prosper.  The final taste will vary based on the wild flora of the mash.  Since I don’t have a mash to do this, due to using wheat malt extract only, I had to find another way.

In my searches of the Googles, I encountered a lot of conflicting/murky information regarding techniques of using lactobacillus.  The other method I found was making a large lactobacillus starter, pouring that into their fermenter and allowing that to ferment a few days before adding yeast to finish the beer.  I had two concerns, how will the lactobacillus handle the hops since hops were historically used to also fight spoilage, which lactobacillus is prone to do.  And, this is supposed to be classic styles made easy and making a starter isn’t always the easiest thing for a beginner to do.  So I thought, why don’t I make the entire batch a starter and do the beer in two steps but use one kettle and one fermentor.

This process involved making 3 gallons of wort with 3 lbs wheat DME in a 5 gallon kettle, boiling it for 30 minutes and cooling it so it was lukewarm.  I then pitched two tubes of Lactobacillus Delbrueckii into my wort and purged the 2 gallon headspace of my kettle with carbon dioxide before I put the lid on.  I put the lid on and and put a couple pieces of tape on it ensure the lid wouldn’t accidentally be dislodged but yet loose enough to allow pressure to escape.  I wrapped kettle with a fermwrap, set the temperature to 90 degrees and insulated the kettle with a blanket.  I checked the taste of the wort after 2 days and determined it was not to my liking and repeated the above process.  After 3 more days I tasted it again and determined it “tangy” enough for my liking.

I then added 1 gallon of water, 1 pound of wheat DME and 1 oz of Tettnanger and brought the kettle back up to a boil for 40 minutes and chilled the 3 gallons of wort in an ice bath.  It did not smell good and this worried me.  However, based on the final product, the smell is nothing to worry about.  Once chilled, I transferred my wort to a 5 gallon carboy and added 1 package of saison yeast.  Fermentation and kegging proceeded as expected.

The end product was a very clean, refreshing, easy drinking, slightly tangy and slightly phenolic Berliner. I made a raspberry syrup and a sourwood honey syrup to go with it, but much prefer this Berliner without the syrup.  The only thing I would do different is maybe give the lactobacillus another day or two to increase the sourness and tanginess.  I will be making this again early next summer.

Marge’s Bingo Berliner Recipe (3 gallons): 

  • 4 lbs wheat dry malt extract
  • 1 oz Tettnanger Hops
  • 2 vials Lactobactillus Delbrueckii
  • 1 pouch saison yeast

LoTMW2014

The Land of the Muddy Waters is an AHA sanctioned hombrew competition. Each fall, entries from all over the country vie for one of the coveted Best of Show tap handles. Experienced and new homebrewers alike benefit from the feedback given by BJCP judges and professional brewers, while having the fun of competition. This year’s competition falls on Saturday, November 8th.

The following information is current as of October 10th, 2014

Entry Information

Online entries are accepted from Sunday, October 12th through Thursday, October 30th, 2014. Please ship entries for arrival no later than Thursday, October 30th.

You can register, make your entries, and review the contest rules and entry information. You can also pay online through PayPal;

If you are not able to enter online, you may print out the standard BJCP entry form, complete it, and send it in with your entries. You do not need to include your recipe. www.bjcp.org/docs/SCP_EntryRecipe.pdf

After registration, print out the standard BJCP/AHA bottle ID form for each beer: www.bjcp.org/docs/BJCP_BottleID.pdf Please include the name of the beer on this label, and send us 2 brown or green 10-14 ounce bottles for each entry. Please zip-lock and rubber band a completed bottle label to each bottle. Do not use glue or tape to secure the form to the bottle as your entry may be disqualified. Please send your check/money order with your beer entries. If paying via PayPal, PLEASE include a copy of your receipt with your entries.You will receive a confirmation email when your shipment arrives.
Entry fees
$8 for your first entry ($6 for MUGZ members) and
a reduced rate of $6 for each entry thereafter.
Please make checks payable to MUGZ, or use the PayPal option.
Drop-Off Location
U.BREW
1525 3rd Ave A
Moline, LI 61265
(309) 524-5219

Label Contest
kevinlabelFor those who have labels for your beers, you may now have them judged as well as the beers they represent. There is a catch though – only beers that are entered in the LOTMW competition may have their labels evaluated. As you fill out your online entry form, you will notice a category for ‘Label’. This is where your entry will be noted. Write the name of the beer on the back of a hard copy of your label and include it/them with your beer entries. We ask that you only submit labels that are crafted and designed by you, the brewer. Please no professional labels. If you happen to be a graphics professional that also brews, that is fine. The labels will be judged the same day as the competition and notification will be sent out as well as listed on the MUGZ website. There is no fee to enter your labels.
Muddy Waters Category
Do you brew a beer you and your friends love that doesn’t fit a BJCP category? If it is the color of the Muddy Mississippi, then this is your category. Beers will be not be judged to any guideline, rather they will be judged more hedonistically as a session beer. The winner of this category will not be eligible for The Best of Show awards. When entering online, scroll down and enter incategory 29A ~ “Muddy Waters”. Winner of this category will receive a small prize TBD.
Judges and Stewards
This year’s main judging session will take place on Saturday Nov 8th at the Blue Cat Brew Pub starting at 9 am. There will be a preliminary judging session to be held in the office space adjacent to U.BREW in Moline on Friday Nov 7th at 6 pm. We welcome you to participate as a judge or steward at either session.
We could still use some more judges for the event. If you are interested in judging, please contact MUGZ at mail@mugzhomebrew.org or sign up at http://lotmwhome.brewcompetition.com/index.php?section=register. Judging starts at 9 a.m. Doughnuts, bagels, pop, tea, and coffee will be provided, as well as lunch, for the judges and stewards. For additional information on judging or stewarding, contact Jason Sweat at 309-948-4131 or email jsweat_php@yahoo.com or visit our webpage at www.mugzhomebrew.org
RibbonsAwards
MUGZ will announce the winners at an awards ceremony after the competition, approximately 5-6 p.m. at Blue Cat Brew pub. Winners unable to attend the awards ceremony will have their awards mailed to them in a timely manner. MUGZ will attempt to have the score sheets available at the awards ceremony; otherwise they will be mailed in a timely manner. Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place in each qualifying category (except for the previously mentioned ‘Muddy Waters’). The winning beer from each category, (except for the ‘Muddy Waters’), will compete against each other in a Best of Show (BOS) round. The top three BOS beers will win special awards.
**Again this year!! There will be a separate best of show for the top mead or cider, which will receive a special ribbon.**

This AHA/BJCP-sanctioned contest is organized by MUGZ (Mississippi Unquenchable Grail Zymurgists). LoTMW 2014 is one of the last qualifying events for Midwest Homebrewer of the Year.

OUR ‘BEDS for BREWERS’ OPTION
If you wish to have overnight accommodations, club members will open their homes to provide beds for judges. Please contact Jason Sweat at:
309-948-4131 or jsweat_php@yahoo.com so arrangements can be made.

For those who desire more private accommodations, the Holiday Inn in downtown Rock Island is located at 226 17th St, Rock Island, IL 61201 (It is about 2 blocks from Blue Cat Brew Pub, the site of the LOTMW competition.) To reserve, contact Jamie DeRudder, Director of Sales at 309-794-1212 Ext.1205. (877) 410-6681 or (800) 718-8466. Mention you are coming to town for the MUGZ homebrew competition.

Or right across the Arsenal Bridge is the Radisson Hotel, located at 111 E. 2nd St. in Davenport 563-322-4908 or 563-322-2200

For any additional information about the competition, contact Jason Sweat at jsweat_php@yahoo.com 309-948-4131 or visit our webpage www.mugzhomebrew.org.

Thank you and we look forward to seeing you at the Land of the Muddy Waters!

Some Rules for LoTMW
This competition is open to all homebrewers, MUGZ members and non-members. Beers brewed in commercial licensed facilities are not eligible. Judges may not judge a category they have entered. MUGZ will take the utmost care in ensuring that the competition is conducted in a fair and impartial manner. If a problem does arise, contact the competition organizer (Jason Sweat), and explain the situation.

The competition organizer will then render a decision that will be final. It is the sole responsibility of the entrant to complete all registration and recipe forms, enclose the proper entry fee and designate the category and subcategory in which he/she wishes his/her entry to be judged. Under no circumstances will registrars, judges or directors categorize entries. Beer will be judged only in terms of the categories and subcategories listed in the beer style list. If entering categories 16E, 17F, 20, 21, 22B, 22C, 23, 24-28, you MUST specify information relating to ‘Special Ingredients/Classic Style’.

Entries must be referred to by category NUMBER and subcategory LETTER. If a category does not have at least five entries in, it will be collapsed into a similar style. If this happens, the judges will be notified, and will judge the beer as the correct style, but it will then compete in the collapsed category. An entry must achieve a minimum rating of “good” (25 points on the BJCP score sheet) to qualify for an award. MUGZ does not have to award first, second or third place if beers are not of proper quality.

Any beer not used in the competition will become the property of MUGZ.

Come and enjoy.

3rd Annual Cedar Rapids Beer Nuts Festival

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Don’t forget that MUGZ will be at the Cedar Rapids Beer Nuts festival next weekend, September 27th from 1 to 5pm. This is the third time they’ve put on this great festival and if this year’s is anything like the previous two, you won’t want to miss it.

A lot of beer festivals are run by distributors or retailers. They know their stuff, but they’re still running a business and are looking to promote and sell their products. At festivals like the Beer Nuts fest, it’s all homebrewers promoting the beer they brewed simply because they love brewing and having people taste their beer. I don’t know any homebrewer unwilling to talk your ear off about a beer they brought. Who knows, maybe you’ll learn something!

And it’s for a good cause! Proceeds go to Pints for Prostates cancer research. Help fight cancer while drinking excellent beer – it’s a no-brainer. For more details on the event, check out the Beer Nuts website. To see what beers will be on tap, check out the app right here! See you there Saturday!

Wine Educational

The August educational was presented by Bob Clevestine and Joe Jordan on wine. There was a great amount of interest. I asked Bob for some resources, so people can do some more individual research. Below is a list of links to get you started.

http://winemakermag.com

http://iowawinegrowers.org

http://midwestwinepress.com

http://www.fruitwinemaker.com

http://www.lallemandwine.us/products/yeast_chart.php

http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/strains.asp