The Janitor


What we’re brewing:

  • ‘The Janitor’ Saison: nicknamed for all the cleaning up the yeast gets to do on this batch, which is stronger than it’s meant to be due to a higher than predicted boil-off..

What we’re drinking:

  • Water (We were at Boatrocker’s Ramjet launch party on Saturday night)
  • To Ol Sur Equinox (Even a night of 7 different 10%+ beers and freeflowing whiskey can’t put me off on brew day!)

What we’re listening to:

  • 90s superhits including but not limited to
    • Spice Girls
    • Savage Garden
    • Nirvana
    • Seal
    • Eiffel 65
    • TLC
    • Paula Cole
    • Eagle-Eye Cherry
    • Britney Spears
    • Et cetera…

Brew date:

  • Sunday 2 July 2017

Other beer updates:

  • The winter ale we brewed a few weeks ago is still in the fermenter.
  • The Astronaut is in the fermenter and it really rocketed away last week, so much so that when we measured the gravity to see how it was going, it was a rather startling FG: 1.007, from an original gravity of OG: 1082. That’s a 9.9% beer. We thought we were brewing an 8.5% beer, so our hopping was totally inadequate and it’s back to the brewshop for some extra Galaxy to do a second dry-hop.
  • The oatmeal stout with too much Fuggles that I submitted to the stout competition improved dramatically in the week leading up to the competition. However, it needed more than that to slip into pleasant territory and placed somewhere in the bottom quartile as expected. I’m looking forward to seeing feedback, and I think I’ll leave most of it alone for at least half a year and see what happens.
  • ALSO ALSO at the last minute, Michael and I decided to submit a strong coffee milk stout that we brewed last year under Michael’s name (as he did a fair bit of the recipe grunt work on that one). Must’ve aged nicely, because it won 2nd place in the Strong Stout category and landed Michael with the ‘Best Novice’ award! Apparently we get a PRIZE! The suspense! I don’t know what it is, but someone who was there said we’ll need space for it, and we don’t have any of that in our 1-bedroom flat, so this could get interesting..


I don’t usually go for saisons. Maybe it’s something about the yeast, but almost always, I’ll take a few sips, decide I would rather not, and then go get something else. Fully aware of my strong feelings on saisons, Michael brewed one about 6 weeks ago while I was overseas. However, in what I assure you came as a great surprise to both of us, I actually love it, and I’ve been keen to try my hand at a saison recipe ever since.

Michael’s is probably my perfect saison, so I’m not really sure what I’m doing over here trying to make my own recipe. His came out quite pale, not toooo strong (~6.6%), fairly dry, nicely peppery from the French Saison yeast, not too honey-ey, and with strong citrus notes from the Mandarina Bavaria hops he used in the boil, whirlpool, and dry hop.

I’ve tried  to develop a recipe with some of the same feeling, but using a different malt bill and different hops. I used Amarillo hops in the boil, did a whirlpool with Riwaka hops, and will dry hop with Riwaka. We’ll see what happens! I’m thinking the hop choices will make it more generally tropical than Michael’s (which is decisively orange-y), but honestly I have no idea!

In the brewing process, we boiled off substantially more water than I anticipated with our new aluminium pot – it’s just too good! – so we’re looking at maybe 8%, which is quite a bit stronger than I’m really interested in for this style I’m lukewarm about to begin with. It was supposed to be 6.4%. That means this particular batch may be a far cry from the bright 6.6% beer of Michael’s that I wanted to imitate. However, I think I’ll just have to get used to the idea of an 8% beer because I used French Saison yeast (Wyeast Labs #3711), which has a bit of a reputation for its impressively high attenuation. Not getting out of this one!

I have to admit that on top of the accidentally massive boil-off, this wasn’t the smoothest brew process we’ve had in several other respects either. Had to pull out an old finicky fermentor because our two favourites are currently holding beer, and we had trouble getting the lid on and properly aerating the wort. Our Wyeast also took a while to get going in the packet, and we thought it might have gotten partially frozen in the back of the fridge. Luckily, the packet did finally start showing signs of life, and the beer is happily bubbling away beside me. I’ve also decided that in the future I might wait to start cooking risotto for dinner until AFTER the beer is happily in the fermentor. Anyway, it’s all learning! One thing I’ve learned is that I would like an endless supply of BetterBottles at my disposal.

In honor of all the cleaning up the yeast gets to do on this beer, I’ve nicknamed it ‘The Janitor’. Go for it, French Saison yeast!


I added a few minerals to our water based on this approximated saison water profile:
Ca       40 ppm
Mg      17 ppm
Na      30 ppm
SO4    85 ppm
Cl        41 ppm
HCO3 60 ppm

This is the recipe we brewed:

Type: All Grain
Batch Size: 10.00 l*
Boil Size: 13.12 l
Boil Time: 90 min
*We boiled off far more than expected and have closer to 8 liters in the fermentor

Est Original Gravity: 1.058 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.010 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.4 %
Bitterness: 27.1 IBUs
Est Color: 8.8 EBC

Measured Original Gravity: 1.065 SG
Measured Final Gravity: 1.004 SG
Actual predicted Alcohol by Vol: 8.0 %

Grain/hops/yeast bill:

2.10 kg Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (3.9 EBC) Grain 73.4 %
0.50 kg White Wheat Malt (4.7 EBC) Grain 17.5 %
0.13 kg Acid Malt (5.9 EBC) Grain 4.5 %
0.13 kg Oats, Flaked (2.0 EBC) Grain 4.5 %
3.00 g Amarillo [9.20 %] – Boil 45.0 min Hop 6.7 IBUs
5.00 g Amarillo [9.20 %] – Boil 30.0 min Hop 9.4 IBUs
5.00 g Amarillo [9.20 %] – Boil 1.0 min Hop 0.5 IBUs
15.00 g Riwaka [5.25 %] – Whirlpool Hop 10.5 IBUs
1.0 pkg French Saison (Wyeast Labs #3711) Yeast
20.00 g* Riwaka [5.25 %] – Dry Hop 0.0 Days Hop 0.0 IB

*I’ll probably up the Riwaka to 25g for this particular batch given that it will be stronger than expected


2 thoughts on “The Janitor

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