Having caught the Brewing bug, I decided that the sour simply wasn’t enough brewing for this month, and figured I’d add another beer to ferment. An added bonus was the potential for there being even more deliciousness to drink. Of course, this left a pressing question – what should I brew? Not one to be restricted by my own lack of experience, I decided it, like the sour beer, had to be a little strange.
Inspiration was provided by a trip to a Sichuan eatery for a deliciously spicy lunch, including Sichuan pepper. For those who have yet to try this delicious spice – it is wonderfully floral, with a much more subtle pepper quality than black pepper, which is quite pungent. It is from the genus Zanthoxlym, and is actually a related to citrus, not pepper! A final point to note is that when consumed it introduces a wonderfully weird numbness to the mouth.
Now all that remained was to decide what kind of beer would suit a hint of sichuan in it. I went with a Saison, since the spiciness of the yeast should be complimented by the floral spiciness of the Sichuan pepper. Hopefully it will also get just enough of the weird element of the sichuan pepper to make the beer a little weird. For hops, I wanted something that would add additional spicy qualities, rather than big fruit notes, so something more noble that new world seemed the bill.
The final selection was Sichuan Pepper, White Labs 565 Saison Yeast, Ella Hops, and a tin of Pilsener malt extract (1.7kg). The boil was 60 mins in total, and I wound up with ~10L at the end, though I had to top it up with water at about 20mins to go. I added 8g of Ella at 30 minutes, with the remaining 20 grams added just before flame out (~ 1 minute). I went with more hops for this than is probably wise, but I have heard good things about Ella, so hopefully it doesn’t go too wrong. And if it does – well, obviously my semiconscious mind was manifesting repressed desires for IPA…
Finally, the sichuan pepper – 10g – I added it at 10 minutes to go. I judged this from coriander, but it may turn out to be too much, or too little. If it works out as intended, at most, there will be a clear hint of the sichuan pepper. If not, well, next time, 20g.
Giving the amount of malt used, it’ll probably be on the strong side, but the Saison yeast should hopefully be able to handle it.
As for the name – “A (St)ella Saison Seconded to Sichuan”
I had a smell of the sours (and our control). I’d added 1 batch of Lacto two days after fermentation started to batch 1, while batch 2 was a week later. The control smells like Banana – maybe even a little bit too strong – but I think with time it’ll calm down and be normal. As for the sours, batch 1 smells like a sour, which is to say, fantastic. Batch 2 is an interesting mix, and, according to the impartial jury of my brother and mother, smells delicious. I’ll probably bottle them in two weeks (or when I have time).