My Gingerbread Saison got a taste last week while I was checking to see it had hit its FG. It tasted like a rather bland saison, and looked kind of murky and awful. The spices I had added were subtle to the point of not existing and there wasn’t much about it that seemed very Christmassy at all. I did stick it outside for the last 5 days to cold crash it the ghetto way (might as well get something good out of the turn in the weather.) In the meantime I pondered what to do with a beer that had not gone wrong in anyway, but wasn’t offering anything right either. My first realization was that for the last 9 days I’ve been stepping up a Brett Trois starter to use in a Mosaic-instead-of-Citra version of Michael Tonsmeire’s Brett IPA which will be brewed on Tuesday. That meant I could safely forget about a beer I had basically lost interest in for a long time because I was going to bottle condition with Brett, and make it one of next year’s Christmas beers.
The second thing I found while wasting time on the internet was Reddit user ChuckDiamond posted a picture of a Ballast Point homebrewing kit for a pumpkin beer. Now I didn’t know these existed and I think real craft breweries making homebrewing kits is an awesome idea. But aside from that I noticed that for their pumpkin beer they add spices at packaging by using a tea. This solved the second problem with my Gingerbread Saison, the fact that there was no gingerbread character at all. I grabbed the backup french press, grated a knob of ginger, and dropped in about 5 cloves, a couple peppercorns and a cinnamon stick than poured about a cup of boiling water in. This steeped for about an hour, then went right in the bottling bucket with the icy beer. The spice aroma was strongly evident as I bottled, though I realize that with basically a year of aging in the bottle, this should dissipate, hopefully leaving the “hint of spice” I was originally aiming for. I pulled about 50 ml of my brett starter, and a pipette that came with my refractometer. I bottled in Champagne bottles, mostly 75cl and one lowly 37.5 Boon bottle to prevent bottle bombs if the brett got too familiar with a beer that was sitting pretty at 1.010. One squirt of brett went into each bottle, leaving most of what I pulled behind. The first one will be opened next J-Dag in 2015.
In other news I was hoping to bottle Heimdal’s Garde soon but I took a peak in the fermenter and saw that the Orval Dregs had finally taken hold. There was a very alluring fruity brett aroma and a thin but distinctly brett-type pellicle over the floating blackberries. As per Ed Coffey’s advice I will be leaving this one alone for at least another month. I was hoping to bestow a couple bottles as a Christmas gift to my blackberry patrons, but that very likely will not be possible. It would be nice to have been able to post a picture but I didn’t have my camera on me and I don’t want to take chances by opening the bucket more than necessary.