Hoppy Saison (Raw Ale Attempt)

Some brews are better than others. Some are even worse than others. Some are even worse than that. I’m not saying this was one of those brew days, but it was one of those brew days.

This debacle of a brew day wasn’t my fault though! It all started when I needed fittings on my 5 gallon cooler for my 3 gallon one…and my 5 gallon cooler was no where to be found. It was stolen. Gone from this earth. Lost on it’s own journey. As a result, I had to use my fittings from my 10 gallon cooler. Thankfully I had the false bottom still for my 3 and 5 gallon cooler.

I hooked it all up, put the mash in, went to sparge…and nothing came out. Nary a drip. I had to pour my mash into my 9 gallon kettle that had a false bottom to separate the wort from the grain. Was it a stuck mash you ask? It had to be right? To test this theory, I put water into my 3 gallon cooler to try and see if that drained—but even water didn’t come out. I then put a bottle cleaner brush into the spigot to try and remove anything stuck in there. Still nothing. No clue. I then had to pour the grain back into the 3 gallon cooler, add the sparge water, then pour it back into my 9 gallon kettle to separate again. Needless to say, the pre-boil gravity was only 1.052, where as I was going for 1.064. I then got the wort to a simmer, added 5 oz of DME to get the gravity to 1.064, turned off the heat, added the hops, and let them steep for 30 minutes.

But Jason, why aren’t you boiling the wort? Is it because you were giving up on the beer? Actually if you must ask, I was trying what is known as a “raw ale”. This is where the wort isn’t boiled, or if it is, for a very short time. This is a bit of a historical way of brewing, though it is still performed to this day.

There can be issues with a no boil though, the biggest one is DMS (dimethyl sulfide). For those who don’t know, it’s a cooked corn/vegetal flavor that can be produced if it’s not boiled out (it can be imparted into your wort from the malt). I have never had DMS in my beer, nor have I tasted it anywhere. Granted most beers I’ve had are boiled for an hour or more.

There are a few other reasons boiling “helps” beers: sterilizing the wort, isomerizing the acids in the hops, and removing protein from the beer, which improves flavor stability. To handle the issues I may be creating, I am keeping the beer at 180F for 30 minutes, which is sufficient to sterilize and sufficient enough to isomerize some of the acids, and I am not concerned about removing the proteins. If anything, my guess is it will just be hazier. If one is concerned about haze or possible stability issues, it’s possible throwing some gelatin at it will help that as well.

There are countries that have been doing this for a while, with success so it seems. This a good article about how it’s done elsewhere and some of the processes. It seems most farmhouse ales aren’t boiled, but it also is country dependent.

The style of beer I’m making for this is a farmhouse inspired beer. The slurry is from a hoppy saison I did back in May, which finished in late July. The slurry is a combo of lactobacillus and Brett, along with the 3711 saison strain.

The hops are experimental hops called Lemonaughty from Yakima Valley Hops. So this should have a nice citrus flavor imagine.

Here’s a video of the debacle brew day:


Batch Size: 1 Gallon
OG: 1.064
SRM: 4.5
Est ABV: 6.5%-ish
IBU: 60
Boil Time: 0 Min

Full grain profile:
(100%) – 2-Row
5 oz – DME (Only due to the mash issue)

60 Min @ 149F


Hop Stand (200F-180F):
.75 oz (60 IBUs) Exp. Lemonaughty (10.5% AA) @ 30 Min Steep

Dry Hops:
.5 oz Exp. Lemonaughty (10.5% AA) @ 7 Days

Slurry from this Hoppy Saison

Here’s what went down:

Brewed 2/10/18

2/12/18: Activity. It took a second as the yeast was so old, but it started.

2/17/18: Activity is slowing. We had a bit of a dip in temperature to 60F during the day recently. So I will need to do something about heating this up.

2/20/18: Moved this inside next to a floor heater. This should keep it closer to the mid-70s during the day—on paper.

3/3/17: This has become super solventy! It’s gross! I dumped it. When acetic acid and brett combine with oxygen, it forms ethyl acetate, which at higher levels is nail polish remover/solvent crap. And it was crap. I think this was due to the yeast culture I had being too old. Below is a video of the disaster.

Leave a Reply