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Four days in and the Beancurdturtle Sacc was already at 85% apparent attenuation.
Four days in and the Beancurdturtle Sacc (wild yeast strain) was already at 85% apparent attenuation.

I'll be using some brewer jargon for this post because the batch of Ghost in the Kettle brewed at Barley Forge Brewing Co. is being fermented with a wild yeast, and brewers geek out on that stuff. Kevin Buckley put the beer in the fermenter on May 17th. I provided the base recipe to all three breweries – Barley Forge, Fantôme, and Saint Somewhere – and got out of the way to let them do their thing. I can't recall if Buckley will be dry hopping or not. I can say that intuition, experience, maybe both, led him to ferment it with very much a classic Saison schedule, and the yeast seem to love it.

The yeast is a wild strain from a mixed culture that I propagated from a white patch on the skin of a honey tangerine in the brewery yard. White Labs isolated the predominant organism from the mixed culture and gene sequenced it. It is identified as a wild Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain. They've banked it as Beancurdturtle Sacc WLP5179. In forced fermentation at White Labs they were getting attenuation at 82% minimum – meaning dry finish.

How is this batch of Ghost in the Kettle brewed at Barley Forge a Farmhouse Ale? It's fermented with a wild yeast harvested from a Tangerine in the Beancurdturtle Brewing yard.
How is this batch of Ghost in the Kettle brewed at Barley Forge a Farmhouse Ale? It's fermented with a wild yeast harvested from a Tangerine in the Beancurdturtle Brewing yard.

I gave Buckley all the information from White Labs and my experience brewing with the mixed culture, and the isolated Sacc C. strain. He decided to go with an aggressive Saison fermentation schedule – and the yeast bloomed and fermented like crazy. 85% attenuation by the end of day 4 - that's impressive. On day 4 I asked him if the esters (aroma compounds) were like Orange Tang (observed on previous batches). He said, "I was going to say citrus/peach with some pepper. Tang might actually be closer". He also described the phenols as "Spicy, clove and a very slight barnyard.", and commented "Flavor still has a perceived sweetness given the low finishing gravity and it is still dry."

13 days in the fermenter, and it's at 96.2% attenuation.
13 days in the fermenter, and it's at 96.2% attenuation.

That's all good news for a Farmhouse Ale. But Wait! There's More! Nine days later I checked in, and the gravity was down to 1.002 which indicates a 96% attenuation. Again – impressive. And it was still producing some CO2, creeping along. If this attenuates to 1.000 (same weight as water) and retains a citrus, spicy, slight funk/dank you could say it's nearly a perfect Farmhouse/Saison strain – and as clean as it finishes, maybe even awesome for dry Pale Ales and IPAs. Ok, so enough beer tech geekness. Where are we at with this beer for the beer drinker?

Well, Buckley is leaving it to rest and condition. From my experience with this yeast and a beer I designed with similar herbs and spices – it should be a really great, citrusy, slightly funky, beer with a touch of sweetness and slipperiness, yet a dry finish. Buckley has done a great job starting with a recipe and wild yeast I provided, and tweaking it to his preference and process. I have a lot of confidence that he's shepherded this batch to a nice conclusion.

Valencia Saison. Ancestor and inspiration for the herbal characters in Ghost in the Kettle.
Valencia Saison. A Saison brewed in Spain designed by Beancurdturtle Brewing. Ancestor and inspiration for the herbal characters in Ghost in the Kettle.

As brewers we start with a target – a concept and vision in our mind of the beer we want to create. The appearance, the aromas, the flavors, the mouthfeel, and the overall impression we want to create for the person enjoying it. We combine grains, hops, yeast, process, and sometimes herbs and spices aiming at the target. With enough experience, we sit down a few weeks after brew day and take a sip – and what was in our mind is in a glass in front of us. It's exciting and a bit magical. I'm thinking we'll have a bit of magic to share with Barley Forge's take on Ghost in the Kettle. That makes me happy.

Cheers!
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Still chugging along day 4 after 85% attenuation.

Crazy cone in the kettle from the whirlpool.
Crazy cone in the kettle from the whirlpool.

Ghost in the Kettle is a collaboration between Brasserie Fantôme, Brasserie Saint Somewhere, Barley Forge Brewing Co., and Beancurdturtle Brewing LLC. A lucky collaboration from me pitching the idea to three brewers, all whose beers I loved for one reason or another, all who know how to brew a Saison. Starting with a recipe designed by Beancurdturtle Brewing (that's me), each brewer tweaks it to their own taste and process. The three beers should have a similar backbone, with each a different personality. The first batch was brewed at Barley Forge Brewing Co. a few weeks ago.

Early start on the brew day.
Early start on the brew day at Brasserie Saint Somewhere.

A little over a week ago I visited Brasserie Saint Somewhere where Bob Sylvester brewed his spin on Ghost in the Kettle. Some changes in the hops and hop schedule, an addition of honey in the fermenter, his own house yeast strain and "Free Range Tarpon Springs Brett and friends".  I'm very much looking forward to the beer that this will be. From Bob's last message "Pitched the honey today. Beer’s doing great. Can’t wait for the finished product." I believe he is on the same page.

Bob and Daniel hugging the mash tun.
Bob and Daniel hugging the mash tun.

One thing I remember from the brew day was wrapping up and walking from the brew house to the taproom, I told Bob "I'm really pleased and I feel privileged that I got to be here today." He laughed and brushed the compliment off. Pretty much the same kind of reaction I got when I told Dany Prignon of Brasserie Fantôme that he was like an icon of Belgian Farmhouse, "Ouf! I'm just a brewer." All three of the brewers in this project have been low ego, open, and generous to me with ideas and answers to my questions about brewing Saison with a bit of wildness.

Good ideas, good brewers, good will – can't result in anything less than good beer. I am looking forward to enjoying the beer from all three exceptional brewers.

Cheers,
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Brewing is fun, if you catch the brewers before the heat of a June day in Florida.
Brewing is fun, if you catch the brewers before the heat of a June day in Florida.
Stirring the mash "the way beer was brewed 100 years ago".
Stirring the mash "the way beer was brewed 100 years ago".
See the Ghost in the Kettle?
See the Ghost in the Kettle?
Ghost in the Kettle second fermenter from the back.
Ghost in the Kettle second fermenter from the back.
Bob, Mike, and Daniel enjoying an after brew beer in the taproom.
Bob, Mike, and Daniel enjoying an after brew beer in the taproom.

 

First hops - excruciating classic noble hops to start - in the kettle for the Barley Forge batch of Ghost in the Kettle, a specialty farmhouse ale.
First hops - excruciating classic noble hops to start - in the kettle for the Barley Forge batch of Ghost in the Kettle, a specialty farmhouse ale.

Ghost in the Kettle is a collaboration between Brasserie Fantôme, Brasserie Saint Somewhere, Barley Forge Brewing Co., and Beancurdturtle Brewing LLC.

Each brewer will bring their own preferences and distinctive style to a beer designed by Beancurdturtle Brewing. The beers will be similar in backbone, while each will express the uniqueness of style each of the brewers/breweries has.

I've been hinting about this for a while, the ball started rolling today with a brew day at Barley Forge.

Santé
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Enjoy the obligatory photographs...

Empty honeypots, from two sources. It's in the Barley Forge batch of Ghost in the Kettle.
Empty honeypots, from two sources. It's in the Barley Forge batch of Ghost in the Kettle.
Behind the magic curtain, or maybe it's a brew bag, lies a mélange of five or six aromatics and herbs for Ghost in the Kettle. So secret, I couldn't count them in this Barley Forge batch.
Behind the magic curtain, or maybe it's a brew bag, lies a mélange of five or six aromatics and herbs for Ghost in the Kettle. So secret, I couldn't count them in this Barley Forge batch.
Enormous teabag (if you will) of aromatics and herbs surfaces in the kettle as the wort for the Barley Forge version of Ghost in the Kettle is pumped to the fermenter.
Enormous teabag (if you will) of aromatics and herbs surfaces in the kettle as the wort for the Barley Forge version of Ghost in the Kettle is pumped to the fermenter.
How is this batch of Ghost in the Kettle brewed at Barley Forge a Farmhouse Ale? It's fermented with a wild yeast harvested from a Tangerine in the Beancurdturtle Brewing yard.
How is this batch of Ghost in the Kettle brewed at Barley Forge a Farmhouse Ale? It's fermented with a wild yeast harvested from a Tangerine in the Beancurdturtle Brewing yard.
A taste of the wort for Ghost in the Kettle before the wild yeast start to work on it. Citrus, pepper, honey, and clean bitterness. I think those are all good signs.
A taste of the wort for Ghost in the Kettle before the wild yeast start to work on it. Citrus, pepper, honey, and clean bitterness. I think those are all good signs.
The Barley Forge batch of Ghost in the Kettle is all tucked away for the magic to happen.
The Barley Forge batch of Ghost in the Kettle is all tucked away for the magic to happen.
Spent grain, aromatics, and herbs. All of their goodness went into the Barley Forge batch of Ghost in the Kettle.
Spent grain, aromatics, and herbs. All of their goodness went into the Barley Forge batch of Ghost in the Kettle.

 

First pour off the keg...

Petite Dame Gris by Beancurdturtle Brewing
Petite Dame Gris by Beancurdturtle Brewing

Petite Dame Grise, Grisette Ordinaire
ABV 3.4%
16 IBU French and German hops
Saison yeast strain

This is v2 of my developing Grisette Ordinaire. First pour, and it's a lovely beer. I'm not sure I could improve this (except perhaps bottle condition it) based on the target.

Santé!
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Some liquid goodness from Beancurdturtle Brewing LLC
Some liquid goodness from Beancurdturtle Brewing LLC

Allrighty. In the lineup for pilot/test beers to brew in the next month or two.

First will be a Belgo-American Double India Witte. It's basically a White IPA that I've made before, but I'll incorporate Belgian elements, and use a hop schedule like a New England IPA. I already have the ingredients, so I'll do it. This beer is not hazy by design, but hazy by the expression of its ingredients.

Next will be a Grisette. This is a (currently) very misunderstood beer style that was brewed in Belgium mostly during the 19th century, when the industrial revolution was booming. It was the hydration beer for miners. Quite possibly the first beer produced in an industrial versus farmhouse/Abbey way in Belgium. It should be light and crisp, and cleanly fermented without lactobacillus or wild yeasts. A light ale with Belgian barley and wheat malts, French and Czech hops, and a slightly spicy yeast of Belgian origin.

Then I'll brew a Scottish 60 Shilling Ale. Classically a dry and crisp beer with toasty/caramel characters and a light garnet color. Hops from England for balance only, and fermented with yeast strains from Scotland that lend a hint of smokey notes to the aromas and flavors.

Later I'll brew a Patersbier (Father's beer). Traditionally a low alcohol beer that Abbey breweries made for hydration for the monks. It will be light in color, body, and alcohol. Yet it will be rich in balanced character from Belgian grains and the house yeast from a Trappist brewery.

All three of the last beers have ABV targeted between 2.5% and 3%, will have very low residual sugars, and will be eminently crushable.

Saison and Sandwich. It even sounds like it goes together.
Saison and Sandwich. It even sounds like it goes together.

Is it really necessary? Doesn’t a Budweiser, like iced water, go with anything? Is this the kind of twisted Chefery that results in a food truck trying to sell me a curried pork belly soft taco with béchamel sauce and pickled strawberries? Well – no, and yes. Hear me out, because this “pairing” thing is actually simpler than you’d think.

In this article, I’ll discuss the Beancurdturtle method for pairing. The basis comes from research into chefery and flavorist snobby things, years of tottering about in the kitchen, and years of hovering over a hot brew kettle. I’ll distill it all down into three different types of pairings, and an example of how they might work. Then wrap it up with an invitation to join me at a restaurant where I’ve put together a list of eight pairings of Belgian beer with Italian food (of the North-Americanized ilk).

What all this pairing stuff really is, is combinations of flavors and aromas from different sources that result in something easy to appreciate, something exciting, and sometimes something complex and bold. I break it down three ways; You’ve got comfort pairings, complimentary pairings, and contrast pairings.

A comfort pairing is in large part a cultural or regional thing, it’s closely tied to knowing your audience. It’s simple flavors and aromas that we are so used to being together that it “just works”. A simple example of a comfort pairing would be Mac and Cheese. Mac and Cheese is easy to appreciate, un-complex and usually well accepted even by folks not familiar with the flavors.

A complimentary pairing is a combination of flavors and aromas wherein the contributors have a broad base of similar characters. A complimentary pairing can be exciting, “Oh yes, this is nice together!” But the closeness of the marriage of characters should be universally apparent. An obvious example of a complimentary pairing would be coffee and chocolate.

A contrast pairing is trickier and more dangerous than the others. First the balance of contrasting flavors needs to be right. Second, the individual palate of the taster has a big role to play in the success of the pairing. A good example is lemonade – sweet and sour. The same batch of well mixed lemonade will be too sweet for some, too sour for others, but pretty darn pleasing to a bunch of folks between them. Yet the contrast pairing provides the greatest opportunity to present something complex, bold, even divisive – think Hawaiian Pizza, Tom Yum Gai soup, or Mexican Mole sauce.

Now I’ve defined my three classes for pairing, then attached the pairing classes to some familiar foods. For a beer food pairing you just need to wrap the concepts of comfort, complimentary, and contrast pairing around a beverage and food together. Of course, you also should have a discerning palate and sensitivity for aroma, and be familiar with the aroma and flavor characters of a bunch of different beers, dishes, and ingredients. Which means you need to taste a lot of beer, and try many different dishes. So get on that right now.

In the meantime though – if you’d like to test this strategy at a great little Italian American restaurant with a terrific beer selection – haul your behind over to Alza Osteria in Brea and try one of these pairings on for size:

• Brasserie d’Orval – Orval Trappist Ale with Pescatore
• Brouwerij Westmalle – Trappist Dubbel with Penne Calabrese
• Brasserie Dupont – Saison Dupont with Chicken Piccata
• Trappist Achel – Bruin with Blonde Lasagna
• Chimay – Grande Reserve Blue with Sausage & Peppers (pasta)
• Brouwerij Huyghe – Delirium Tremens with Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
• Brouwerij Lindemans – Framboise with Grilled Chicken Strawberry (salad)
• Fantome/Beancurdturtle – Ghost Turtle with Linguine Puttanesca

Cheers!
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Ghost Turtle. A collaboration brew from Brasserie Fantôme and Beancurdturtle Brewing® LLC.
Ghost Turtle. A collaboration brew from Brasserie Fantôme and Beancurdturtle Brewing® LLC.

My first taste of this collaboration between Brasserie Fantôme and Beancurdturtle Brewing® LLC. I will say that I have never been more confident leaving a brewery after a brew day and trusting that the fermentation schedule and packaging would befit the style and target for the beer. The collaborating brewer is Dany Prignon after all – and he knows his way around a Saison like few others on this planet. I simply overlaid the beer with the several flowers, herbs, and type of honey that my experience and palate told me would lend it the ghost of Genièvre.

• Restrained aromas of, gin, resin, juniper, peppery spice, biscuity malts, and citrus acidity.
• Flavors of dry grain, resinous herbaceousness, spice, and punchy phenols.
• Medium light body, slippery fat middle, and a sticky dry and slightly astringent tongue tingling finish.

Ghost Turtle. A collaboration brew from Brasserie Fantôme and Beancurdturtle Brewing® LLC.
Ghost Turtle. A collaboration brew from Brasserie Fantôme and Beancurdturtle Brewing® LLC.

Overall, I would say I’m, more pleased with this collaboration than I may be able to express. First for the fact that a Brewer that has been a legend in my mind since 1995 has become a friend. Second for the opportunity to influence a beer that he brewed with the Beancurdturtle touch. And third because the progeny of two old brewers putting our ideas into one beer has resulted in such a crazy complex - rough/dry/spicy/ginny/peppery - Belgian to the bone beer.

I’m incredibly grateful to have collaborated on this amazing beer with a longtime brewer/hero of mine, now a cherished friend.

Well brewed Dany. Exceptionally well brewed.

À votre santé!
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Ghost Turtle. A collaboration brew from Brasserie Fantôme and Beancurdturtle Brewing® LLC.
Ghost Turtle. A collaboration brew from Brasserie Fantôme and Beancurdturtle Brewing® LLC.

Keeping the asparagus fresh.
Keeping the asparagus fresh.

It all started with an April Fools post that I didn’t realize was a prank for, maybe, 30 seconds. Stone Brewing Co posted to their Facebook page an announcement. “We're proud to present our newest seasonal creation: Stone #AsparagusIPA - a bright, hoppy beer with a robust, pungent aroma and rich golden hue. Look for it this summer.” I thought “Ok, asparagus is grassy, herbal, and dank – I can see how Stone would… Hey! Wait a minute!”

I had my chuckle, then I started thinking about it. I posted a link to Stone’s prank post on the Beancurdturtle Brewing LLC Facebook page with the comment “I could do this for real, and make it good. No fooling!”. Someone commented “Do it. I dare you.” I opened my big mouth, got called out, and there you go.

Most everything I brew now is a pilot for a collaboration brew or gypsy brew, or to further develop a targeted beer. I rarely brew just for fun. This offers me the opportunity to brew for fun, and for an object lesson in using vegetable adjuncts.

Evidence of a test asparagus and hop tea.
Evidence of a test asparagus and hop tea.

The target for No Foolin’ was a clean ale base, restrained (East Coast) neutral bittering hop profile, enough asparagus to contribute some grassy/herbal/dank characters, and late and dry hopping to compliment the asparagus presence and not overwhelm it. I started with my taproom tested recipe for a Double White IPA base, plus a changeup of the hops and a couple other tweaks. I made a tea with asparagus and the hops to provide a checkpoint, and the components seemed to work together.

The brewday went well with no surprises and I hit all the expected targets for extraction. Fermentation schedule progressed as expected, utilizing a diacetyl reduction cycle for a clean base beer, and attenuation was a little higher than expected. I kegged and carbonated the beer – a taste at this point showed good promise.

Nice pour of No Foolin’ – Asparagus IPA.
Nice pour of No Foolin’ – Asparagus IPA.

A week after packaging and the first pour is exactly what I targeted. Crisp and clean White IPA base. Late hops presenting fresh citrusy/dank characters, though not burying the asparagus. The asparagus is present in aroma and flavor/finish, though not overwhelming the beer.

I’m very pleased with the beer and find it very enjoyable. Other tasters think it’s great. Even tasters that don’t like asparagus have claimed to enjoy the beer very much. So what started as a April Fools prank, progressed to a boast, answered with a challenge, results in a very cool Asparagus IPA. No Foolin’.

Final Numbers:
• ABV 7.8%
• SRM 4.5
• IBUs 64

Cheers!
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Piney the Turtle, designed by Beancurdturtle Brewing LLC
Piney the Turtle, designed by Beancurdturtle Brewing LLC

A friend asked if I could give some big clues on how to brew this beer...

Piney the Turtle is a specialty American Rye Ale. The dry and spicy character of a cleanly brewed rye ale is supported by piney/resinous hops, blue spruce tips, and a touch of juniper berries to create a uniquely refreshing beer with invigorating aromatics. This beer was designed by Beancurdturtle Brewing LLC and brewed (so far) at Phantom Ales in Anaheim California.

Don’t expect to be blown away by some huge palate walloping beer like a DIPA or BBA Stout. The concept calls for an American Rye Ale 6% ABV and about 40 IBU, with additions of select hops, blue spruce tips, and juniper berries used to contribute restrained yet decidedly piney/resinous characters. Balanced and approachable enough to invite a second pint.

This is all a well informed brewer - knowing their overall brewhouse efficiency and brewing calculations - should need to duplicate the recipe brewed at Phantom. Duplicating the recipe will get you close, but process, water chemistry, and all the other factors will effect the final beer. All measurements are in American units to simplify for US homebrewers.

Mash:
US 2-Row Pale 73%
US Malted Rye 13%
Flaked Rye 9%
Vienna Malt 5%

Mash schedule:
1.25 quarts water per pound of grain
Protein Rest 122F 20 min
Saccharification 150F 50 min
Mash out and sparge

Boil:
US Magnum 60 min for 22 IBUs
Chinook 30 min for 8 IBUs
Opal 10 min for 5 IBUs
Chinook 10 min for 4 IBUs

Herb addition at 5 min:
Blue Spruce tips at 0.042 ounces per pound of grain
Juniper Berries at 0.016 ounces per pound of grain

Fermentation:
Appropriate pitch of WLP001 California Ale Yeast from White Labs, or a trusted West Coast Ale strain
67F until you get to 75% of calculated total attennuation
Let temp rise to 72F max for 4 days
Reduce to 67F and finish

Dry hop at 2 days before cold crash and packaging:
Blue Spruce tips at 0.042 ounces per pound of grain
Juniper Berries at 0.032 ounces per pound of grain
Chinook at same weight as total Chinook added to boil

Try it. Let us know how it turns out. If you're a commercial brewery - please let us know and credit Beancurdturtle Brewing LLC.

Cheers!
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Ghost Turtle Label, a Brasserie Fantôme and Beancurdturtle Brewing collaboration.
Ghost Turtle Label, a Brasserie Fantôme and Beancurdturtle Brewing collaboration.

Taken from the press release:

Soy, Érezée, Belgium and La Habra, California USA; Belgian Farmhouse brewery Fantôme Brasserie Sprl and Orange County California Beancurdturtle Brewing LLC collaborate to create a specialty Saison, Ghost Turtle. Ghost Turtle is firmly grounded in a spicy Farmhouse Saison typical of Brasserie Fantôme, and gently overlaid with the influence of a blend of multiple flowers, herbs, and wildflower honey designed by Beancurdturtle Brewing. The floral and herbal aromatics and flavors gently express characters of Genièvre, an heirloom Belgian spirit that has been called “The grandfather of Gin”.

Ghost Turtle Distributors:

For more information on Ghost Turtle:

  • Inquiries in Europe: contact@fantome.be
  • Inquiries in the US: daniel@54.153.33.165