Homebrew Recipe: La Granja Agave Azacca Saison

Key points for key pints

• Don’t prop 3031. If you choose to follow in my Brett-filled footsteps on yeast selection this month, just direct-pitch and don’t propagate the blend; it’ll change the balance of Sacch and Brett.

• Ferment warm. Regardless of your chosen strain, saison yeast and Brett alike generally enjoy heat, making this an ideal high-summer brewing project. Shrug off your swamp coolers and chest freezers and let the fermenter temperature free rise for maximum farmhouse phenols and esters.

• Add agave nectar late, use a big primary. As discussed previously, adding the agave nectar post-boil will help its floral-mesquite qualities carry over into the finished beer. We’ll add it directly to the fermenter 1–2 days after pitching; to help contain any renewed foaming during or after the addition, we’ll plan to use an oversized bucket or carboy (or at least have a blowoff tube ready at hand).

To the homebrewery

Note: these steps are general guidelines and assume you’re already familiar with the all-grain brewing process. Refer to the instructions for your brew system, and adjust as needed based on experience with your own particular equipment.

Prep

1. Make a yeast starter prior to brew day—this is a big beer and will need lots of yeast!

2. On brew day, collect strike water (I use 1.3 quarts per pound, YMMV) and heat to approximately 165°F.

3. Mill the grains, or have it done for you at the shop.

Mash & Sparge

1. Add all grains to strike water and mix to achieve a uniform temperature of 151–153°F. Rest the mash at this temperature for 60–90 minutes. While the mash rests, collect and heat sparge water.

2. When the mash rest is complete, heat it to 170°F for mashout.

3. Sparge and collect the wort in the boil kettle.

Boil

1. Bring the wort to a boil and adjust your Cuervo visor. Add 0.25 ounces Azacca hops when the wort begins to boil, and boil for 60 minutes.

2. Add 0.75 ounces of Azacca five minutes before the end of the boil.

3. Cool it!

Fermentation and Beyond

• Transfer the cooled wort to a sanitized fermenter, aerate well, and pitch yeast.

• Depending on the yeast strain being used, aim for a fermentation temperature of 75–85°F, and watch for krausen development.

• 1–2 days after pitching yeast, or once the krausen is high and CO2 evolution is rapid, uncover the fermenter and pour in the agave nectar. Watch for foam-ups from the renewed fermentation.

• After 2–4 weeks, fermentation should slow and gravity should be more or less stable (although the Brett may continue to work for a while), at which point La Granja will be ready to package and drink fresh; extended bulk aging or cellaring will diminish the hop character but bring out increasing Brett character.

Until next time: Drink it like you brewed it.


Like this recipe? You can find it and 63 other witty and detailed homebrew recipes in Michael Dawson’s book, “Mashmaker: A Citizen-Brewer’s Guide to Making Great Beer at Home.” In each recipe, Dawson includes suggestions on how to modify and customize each beer, along with all-new essays on Malt, Hops, Yeast, and Water, giving readers critical insight into the building blocks of every successful brew. On sale now for $24.95 at mashmakerbook.com.

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