On Meetings, Saisons, and a Weird Beer.

Hey! So we had another great meeting. Wednesday night brought out some new faces which was awesome and seeing everyone back was really great. The tasting really covered some bases and mine got called out a bit and while I knew it had problems, I thought it was OK. Anyway, some lovely lady considered it bad homebrew. Hehe. Oh well, better luck next time for me. We also came up with some concepts for our collaborative brewing efforts.

We picked two beers that we are going to brew for tasting at upcoming meetings. The first one we picked is simple and fairly common but the variety of a saison should be an excellent way to show a bit of creativity. I would wax on a bit about this normally but our second beer forced me to do some research so as far as saisons are concerned, here are the BJCP guidelines for the style. Saisons are fun and I have tasted the spectrum from bright, fruity and tart to deep and funky. In all honesty, it is far from my favorite type of beer. Saying that, I am super excited to try your versions and see what happens. I am also interested to try making the stuff myself. We want to taste saisons at the June meeting.

So the next beer… Hmm, the next beer. It is called Fraoch. I was saying it “froach” the other night like “roach.” I was wrong. it is pronounced “Fray-ock.” From what I can find, it comes from Gaellic term Leanne Fraoich which essentially means Heather Ale. I am going to steal and interpret from a few sites that I Googled up so bear with me. Basically, the stuff is an unhopped beer from Scotland that is flavored and bittered with the flowering tips of the heather flower. Supposedly, the method goes back to 2000bce and is one of the older styles of European beers that there is. There is at least one commercial brewer still brewing it and I am going to try to get a bottle or two if it is available in any Denver beer stores.

I should point out that there is a pretty rad story about a king throwing a Pictish brewer’s son off of a cliff to get the recipe and the brewer attacking the king taking them both over the same cliff and the brewer’s recipe being lost forever. I hope they used his final batch to toast an enjoyable bit of regicide.

Recipe-wise, I am not entirely sure where to go with it. There are some recipes out on forums that have a similar qualities. Basically, the beer is fairly low volume and light in color. I think I will probably work with Golden Promise since I like it and have a bunch on hand. I am thinking, for 5 gallons:

7# Golden Promise 150 degree mash temp?

.25oz Fuggle pellets boiled for 45min
(some volume*) Heather Tips boiled for 60min
(some volume*) Heather Tips boiled for 10 min
(some volume*) Heather Tips at flameout or 1 min
I guess a Scottish Ale yeast will suffice.

So that is a bit vague. *Heather tips are available at the homebrew store that I visit most often and they look to be dried. I am not sure how much to use, really. Some recipes suggest in the 20g per addition range up to a full pound used throughout the process. I may just shoot based on what is available for a reasonable price on the day I brew. I know that originally it is an unhopped beer but I am thinking that a little Fuggle spiciness has never hurt anyone, so why not toss it in.

My recipe is pretty basic. I think that there are a lot of optional ingredients that can be added to sparkle it up a bit. The route I may go is looking into other herbs that were prevalent and used at the time. Meadowsweet is one. I am going to check Radical Brewing by Randy Mosher to see what else would be period-relevant. You could probably play with the malt a little bit too. I doubt that a slight smokiness would be out of the question based on other Scottish brews. Who knows? Interpret like crazy. It seems unlikely that you will be visited by the ghosts of some dusty old Pict telling you what is what.

This beer should be made for the May meeting. Also, no one is obligated to brew these beers if you aren’t interested, I just think it will be fun to try a number of interpretations of a style. The more the better.

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7 Responses to On Meetings, Saisons, and a Weird Beer.

  1. kortney says:

    Exciting! If I have a homebrew not of these styles, should I still bring it to the meeting? I’m really excited to meet some other brewing folks!!

    • eninelpirt says:

      Absolutely. We are doing some themed months as collaborative brewing events. We will be highlighting different styles to compare interpretation and brewing methods. We will always still have the random tasting portion of the show as well.

  2. Mama Monroe says:

    I’m sorry I called your beer bad homebrew… I think it was just because I was tasting so many other good beers. Not to mention you went head to head with another 80 Schilling so it was a bit easier to pick out the weak spots. Your beer is usually top notch!

  3. Jake says:

    Hey man! Hope you enjoy Fraoch whenever you find a bottle of it (usually pretty widely available). For more of a trip and exploration into beers-not-bittered-with-hops, get the “Historic Ales of Scotland 4-Pack” which has Fraoch in it. If my memory serves me correct, it should come with a beer flavored with spruce tips, the aforementioned Fraoch, an elderberry black ale, and a gooseberry lager. Definitely a trip down a different flavor lane. If you can find it, the same company used to sell a beer called Kelpie, flavored with seaweed. Radical brewing, indeed!

    • eninelpirt says:

      Yeah, you know, now that you mention it, I recall seeing that 4-pack somewhere. I may have to hunt it down.

  4. Chelsea says:

    I have tried the Kelpie, Freshcraft had it last fall and I convinced PJ to go in on a bottle with me. It was interesting to try, but I will not be having it again. It tasted like the beach and salty sea air, so I guess they may have accomplished what they set out for… I’m just not sure who wants to drink salt water flavored beer with any kind of regularity.

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