Dry-Hopping the Brett-Saison with Amarillo Hops

Back in August of 2009, I took a fully fermented homebrewed saison batch of mine and split it into two 3-gallon carboys. On one I put a vial of Brett B, and on the other I pitched the dregs of an Avery Brabant. The initial post about the sour saison experiment is here.

I haven’t post anything about the tasting of these two batches simply because I haven’t bottled them yet.  (Despite the fact the Brabant version has won a silver medal in a BJCP competition. Ahhh, the joys of wine thieving….)  I will be bottling that soon, hopefully this week.

But the clear winner was the Brabant version.  It was more tart, sour and refreshing.  (More to come later) But this wasn’t a really fair race.  The Brett B version was purely a brettanomyces addition, and the dregs of the Brabant included brettanomyces, lactobacillus, pediococcus and whatever else was cultured up from the bottle.

So, never leaving well enough alone, I decided to play with the Brett B saison before bottling. I’m not a huge fan of the Americanization of Belgian and French beers, but I have had a few interesting ones of late.  I really liked the aroma hop kick of the Flying Dog Raging Bitch Belgian IPA, and seemed like it would be fun to try dry-hopping my saison with American hops.

Without look it up, it was clear to me that the dry hop aroma from the FDRB was Amarillo hops. So took 1 oz of some Amarillo hops and dropped them into carboy, which holds about 2 gallons of sour saison at this point. The look of it is disturbing.

Through the neck of the carboy

Amarillo hops and the remaining bits of pellicle.

The mixture of green Amarillo pellet hops and the remaining bits of pellicle is glorious.  But, unfortunately, it was difficult to photograph. If you aren’t familiar with what these sour beers look like, I think it might be unsettling. Honestly, it looks like some sort of tomatillo salsa verde thing.

But I am loving the look of this, and the smell is already amazing.

I’ll leave the hops on the saison for about a week, then I’ll bottle them up.


5 Responses to “Dry-Hopping the Brett-Saison with Amarillo Hops”

  • nate Says:

    Just curious…when you pitched the Brett and the cultured Brabant did you pitch anything for them to consume, or was there still some residual fermentable sugar?

    Also, what did you use for primary fermentation?

    Amarillo has grown on me…love the fruity apricot aromas.

  • BarlowBrewing Says:

    I was treating this split batch like the commercial beers that pitch brett at bottling. I should have bottled soon after, but I let it all ride for 6 months.

    I don’t think there was a lot to eat into. The base saison finished at 1.006. It might be hard to add sweetness or have a higher FG and still have your beer be a good, base saison.

    I’m funny about saisons because I’ve been burnt by them in the past. I’ll pitch saison yeast, then a strong clean yeast on top of that ~48 hours later to insure the batch doesn’t poop out.

    Amarillo is my favorite aroma right now. They’ve overtaken Centennial.

  • nate Says:

    I recently had Boulevards Saison Brett: they pitch the brett in at bottling. It was GREAT, but it didn’t have as much funk as I’d like. I’m brewing up a sour saison here soon (sour mash). I think I’m going to brew a one gallon batch of separate and ferment with only brett and then blend. Not sure yet. Great post, thanks for the tips.

  • Jeff Crane Says:

    I am wondering how the Amarillo batch turned out.
    You did 1 oz into 2 gals for how long?
    And would you have done anything different?

  • BarlowBrewing Says:

    Hey Jeff – I only dry-hopped for a week. (I never dry-hop for more than 7 days. Any longer then that and I get a grassy note that really bothers me.)

    I wouldn’t change anything about the Brett B side of this experiment. That turned out great and got 1st place in the French/Belgian category of The Bruery’s Batch 300 contest.

    Contrary to my post, the Brabant one was the lesser of the two beers.

    Honestly, the amarillo was a good choice but it has to be consumed quickly. Once the amarillo sat in this beer for a few weeks, it disappeared completely. Without a trace.

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