Getting Funky with a Brett Saison

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted here so I’ll start with an update of the past few months.  It’s been busy and we’ve only been able to brew 3 beers so far this year, we’ve really got to step it up.  We entered a couple homebrew competitions and our Synesthesia Pêche took 2nd for its category in one of them.  Our 2nd year Centennial hops are coming in really nicely, hopefully we’ll get some cones this year.  In a couple of weeks we’ll be serving a beer we brewed with Burnt Hickory Brewery (Chocolate Coffee Porter with Raspberries) at their 3rd Anniversary Party, if you’re in the Atlanta area come on out and join us.

Brew Dog Boo rocking her medal for Synesthesia Pêche

Brew Dog Boo rocking her medal for Synesthesia Pêche

Now that we’re all caught up let’s get on with our latest brew, Synesthesia American.  If you’ve followed us for a while you know we brew a lot of saisons, we’ve had very good results with them and gosh darn it, we like them.  With Synesthesia American we took our standard Synesthesia Saison recipe and switched out the yeast to WLP670, an American Farmhouse strain with Brett.  This one will take 4-6 months (from what I’ve read) to reach its potential and should produce a moderate funkiness.  I wanted to test this recipe brewing the beer exactly as we have in the past and only changing the yeast.  Our base recipe had a whirlpool hop addition and we kept it in there although it may not do much for the finished beer due to the extended aging.  We recently opened a bottle of our first batch that was 14 months old and it aged extremely well.

This will get fermented up to 85°F for a couple of weeks then we’ll move it off the trub and into an upstairs closet for 3-4 months.  After that we’ll bottle-condition, I look forward to seeing how this one changes over time.  I’ve never been the most patient brewer but have to say that seeing positive results on past beers make it a bit easier to wait things out, it also helps to have a few in the pipeline to quench your thirst while you wait.

Action Shot! Synesthesia American boiling away

Action Shot! Synesthesia American boiling away


05/06/15 | Transferred to secondary, purged with CO2.

06/10/15 | Just short of 2 months since brew day.  Gravity at 1.004.  Flavor is a fruity saison with (maybe?) a very light funkiness.

06/27/15 | Bottled.  Gravity was still at 1.004.  Huge pellicle on top, no sign of pellicle on 06/10.  Starting to develop some of that Brett funk.

Pellicle on a Brett Saison

Pellicle on a Brett Saison


09/07/15 | At just over 4 months old this beer really started to hit its stride.  Good amount of funk and very fruity with flavors of pineapple and mango.  It recently took 2nd for the Belgian Specialty Ale category at the New South Brew Off.

I’ve seen a lot lately about the love for green bottles for funky beers to allow some lightstruck character.  I bottled some of this in brown bottles and some in green bottles to compare the two.  Early tasting shows a distinct difference with the green bottles being noted as having an herbal quality.  I took one 750ml bottle of brown and one of green and placed them on a shelf that gets only indirect light, I’m going to leave them there for 6 months then try each one side-by-side to note the character differences.

Winner!  Synesthesia American took Silver for category at the 2015 New South Brew Off

Winner! Synesthesia American took Silver for category at the 2015 New South Brew Off

“Ryesponsibale Collaboration” – A session IPA

Maybe we could call it RC?  Or by it’s full legal name The Mostly Harmless Brewing Co.’s Ryesponsibale Collaboration Session IPA, Esq.  We’re gonna need a bigger label.

We dropped some dry hop action into this one earlier this week (1 oz Crystal / .5 oz Centennial / .5 oz Ahtanum) and it’s cold crashing right now.  It’s got an amazing hop aroma and a pronounced, but smooth, bitterness.  We finished up at 1.010 which landed us at 4.8% ABV, a bit higher than our target of 4.2% but we used our grain mill for the first time and pulled a bit more efficiency than we estimated.  Oh well, 4.8% is still pretty sessionable IMO.

If you missed the back story on this beer check it out here.  In short, we collaborated with some friends around the country and we’re each brewing the same recipe and then we’ll share the beers we brewed to compare them.  Should be a fun experiment.  OK, I guess that pretty much is the back story, no need to click that link now.

Our Centennial hop farming is coming along nicely as well despite brew dog Boo’s efforts to dig up the hop bed.  We’ve discussed that this is unacceptable and I’m sure she’ll behave now.  I can’t wait til these get long enough to start climbing and producing cones.

Centennial hops start to shoot up!

Centennial hops start to shoot up!


Session Rye IPA Brewday and Hop Farming Update

Since Saturday was National Homebrew Day / Big Brew Day we pretty much had to brew some beer.  Mother Nature looked upon us most favorably and the weather was absolutely perfect for hanging outside and brewing.  A few friends joined us and enjoyed a day of brewing, drinking, eating and smoking cigars – not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

For this brew we collaborated with several friends on the brew.  We’re all going to brew the beer then send a couple bottles to each other to see the differences we each get.  We’re pretty widely distributed (GA, OH, FL, TX and MO) so it will be interesting to see the differences we get from this recipe.  We’ve wanted to do a session beer for a while and this was a good chance to make it a bit more fun.  The recipe is based off of Denny Conn’s Wry Smile IPA tweaked to a target of 4.2% ABV and 61 IBU.  This was our first brew milling our own grains and we got a bit more gravity than expected.  We hit 1.047 with a target of 1.042, looks like our actual ABV on this one will land around 4.8%, still sessionable IMO.

We’ll check the gravity this weekend and see how it’s coming along.  This one will probably have to stay in the fermenter for a few weeks as I have to go out of town the weekend of the 17th, hopefully we’ll get it kegged up on the 24th.

Not a long video, but here’s a little Instagram snippet from the brewday.

Our hops are coming in nicely.  It took them a while to break the surface but they’re growing an inch or so each day now.  We’ve got 6 shoots that I can find with a couple of them much more aggressive than the others.  I wish they’d hurry the heck up.

Hop Sprout - 05/02/14

Hop Sprout – 05/02/14


Hop Sprout - 05/06/14

Hop Sprout – 05/06/14

First Year Hop Growing – Part 2

Finally!  The hops are in the ground and the supports are re-strung for the hops to climb.  I added some mulch to the top to keep everything moist and minimize erosion.  The bed has been well saturated with some Miracle Gro fertilizer and I hope to see the shoots breaking free very soon.

In my first post on our attempt at hop farming I mentioned that the twine that was recommended to us (tomato twine) by the guy at Home Depot just wasn’t going to make the cut.  It was very weak and brittle and broke with very little force.  I took to Googling to see what was a good choice and found several people recommending jute twine.  I ended up using 5-ply jute twine that is rated at 108 lbs.  One of the Amazon reviewers noted that he’d used it for 20′ runs to grow hops and another said they’d used it to hang planter baskets, sounds like this should be perfect.  We also added a piece of angle iron and an L-brace to support the center post.  I didn’t drive the post in the ground as I wanted the full 8′ for the hops to climb (since many of them can grow 20′ or more) so I only supported it by anchoring the upright post to the center brace, and that was a bit shaky.  We drove about 1′ of a 2′ piece of angle iron into the ground and then anchored it to the upright post, seems pretty strong now.

So now we wait.  I hate waiting.

Centennial Hop Rhizomes

Centennial Hop Rhizomes

Happy Birthday to the ground!

Happy Birthday to the ground!

Hob bed planted and new twine added

Hob bed planted and new twine added

From Garden to Glass (Hopefully). First Year Hop Growing.

A Home for Hops

Hop trellis built!  Under the watchful eye of our supervisor. brew dog Boo.


We. Are. Farmers.  Bum, buh dum dum, bum bum bum.

Well at least we hope to be.  tMHBC has decided to try our hand at growing some hops.  We laid the foundation yesterday and built a raise bed to plant the rhizomes in.  The soil still needs a bit of prepping and there’s a good chance we need to swap out the twine we used for the bines to climb.  The guy at Home Depot recommended some stuff called tomato twine but it seems fairly brittle and as Brian mentioned as he was perching on the top of the ladder to loop it through the supports, it may not hold the weight of the plants.  After swapping out the twine I’ll mix some fertilizer into the soil, plant the bines and covering them with a nice protective blanket of mulch.  We’ll keep you posted on how things go.

P to the S: I know hops are toxic for dogs.  So far Boo has shown no interest in hops when I’ve let her sniff them, but I’ll still keep an eye on her around the plants.


Brewed and Bottled – Rainy Day IPA

This weekend we bottled up our Rainy Day IPA.  It’s a very sessionable at 4.0% ABV and not too hard on the palate at 42 IBU.  This is Brian’s recipe and was based on a few clone recipes of Founder’s All Day IPA.   The recipe included Maris Otter, Caramel and Rye malt along with Simcoe, Amarillo and Centennial hops.  Based on the samples we tried at bottling this should be a great beer.

Rainy Day IPA

Rainy Day IPA

We brewed this one on 12/28/13, our last beer of 2013.  The weather didn’t want to cooperate with us and it was cold and rainy and windy, all around crappy.  We had to set up a tent/awning to keep the rain out of our boil kettle and heaters cranking to keep us from freezing to death, OK… maybe 40°F wouldn’t freeze us to death but we live in the South so anything below 50° is freezing as far as we’re concerned.  Considering how nature was being such a mother the brew day went pretty well overall.

We also got to try out some new gear for this brew day.  We replaced the braided hose in our MLT with a bazooka screen and we got a pH meter that we used for the first time.  I won’t go into a bunch about pH meters as there’s plenty of reading out there if you choose, but we purchased the Oakton Eco Testr pH 2 and we have been happy with it so far.  It has an overall 4 star review and the price was $47.43 when we ordered it.  After we use it a bit more I’ll probably do a more detailed ‘review’ of it.

Capped and Cased

Capped and Cased

There are pros and cons to adding new gear to your brewhouse.  Improvements are always nice but anything you add to the equipment will change the results of your brew, hopefully for the better, but you still have to adjust for the changes made.  As an example, the bazooka screen flowed much quicker when we were lautering and sparging, we had to keep an eye on the flow and adjust so we didn’t move too quickly, I think this may have cost us a couple points of gravity but we know now for next time.  Using the pH meter I found the pH of our water out of the tap is 8.8, normal range is 7.0 – 8.5 so it’s a bit on the hard side.  I haven’t looked yet to see if I need to make any tweaks there however the mash pH was 5.4 so we fell within the acceptable range.

Everything else went smoothly.  We kept this in primary at 62°F for 2 weeks the dry-hopped for a week, cold-crashing it the last couple days before bottling.   I’m really stoked to try this one and with the lower ABV it should be ready fairly quickly.  Maybe I’ll get lucky and it will rain here in a couple weeks so I can try it out in its intended environment.

Here’s a little data porn for those that like this stuff.  I chart out the fermentation temps and then mark the low and high points during primary fermentation and any anomalies.  We use an STC-1000 temp controller on our fermentation chamber and, as you can see on the chart, it kept us within +/-  0.52°F for the whole two week fermentation.  That’s pretty solid control.

Click the chart to view that sucker full size.

Rainy Day IPA - Fermentation Chart

Rainy Day IPA – Fermentation Chart

Look at my awesome beer label.

A couple weeks ago we brewed a pseudo-clone of Founder’s All Day IPA.  You know how movies that are total bullshit will say something like, “inspired by actual events.”?  Well that’s what this beer is, except for the bullshit part… we hope.  We still need to dry hop it but I took gravity today and we’re done fermenting and we nailed a very sessionable 4.0% ABV with this one.  It smells great and it tastes awesome, I can’t wait to try it after dry hopping, carbing, etc.  This was Brian’s recipe, and since his last creation ended up being a soy sauce IPA I’m pretty glad to see this one seems to be coming along nicely.

But this post isn’t about the beer, it’s about the label.  Which is awesome.  Brian and collaborate on the labels and both of us throw in ideas and I usually do the photoshopping.  Sometimes we have similar ideas, and sometimes we don’t.  This time we were 180° apart.  I was thinking of a simple shot of an IPA glass on a table with the view looking out through a rainy window pane… because something like that is in line with my Photoshop abilities.  But no, not Brian, he’s all like, “I think we (he meant me) need to do something like this (insert Singin’ In The Rain movie poster) for our label.  Maybe replace the heads with hop cones?”  OK, Brian… fine…. I’ll give it a shot.  I thought I was going to get off easy with a stupid beer in a window, pfft.

But I have to say, I like the results.  That was a pretty good idea he had there – and it helped me to continue to develop my Photoshop skillz.  It’s not perfect, but it is pretty sweet.  We’ll post more info on Rainy Day IPA when it’s done, I may have to wait for a rainy day to try one.

Singin' in the Rainy Day IPA

Singin’ in the Rainy Day IPA

And for comparison, the original movie poster…

Singin' in the Rain

Singin’ in the Rain