A couple months back I acquired a bag of spelt flour from K2 milling, a wonderful flour mill new to my hometown of Beeton, Ontario. All of their products are great, resulting in bread that truly evokes the full flavor of the grain. Their spelt flour has grown to become my favourite – I am now using it in a proportion of about 20% in basic wheat breads, and 50% in more assertive loaves. I love the aroma and flavour of spelt. Genetically it’s still wheat, but I find it, much like other heirloom and ancient wheats, to be an entirely different product in terms of flavour.
I lived in Germany this time last year, and to me the smell of baking spelt bread is the smell of a German bakery, which is quite possibly the greatest aroma known to man. Knowing that spelt is a common ingredient in farmhouse ales, I knew I had to start experimenting with the grain and working it into my repertoire. Thus, a one-gallon BIAB experiment was in order! I picked up some flaked spelt at my local bulk foods supplier, and decided to use it like I would flaked wheat in a pale ale or saison- adding body, protein and flavour.
Our choice of grains and ability to experiment with them is on an equal plane with our water, hops, and yeast.
I’m somewhat tempted to avoid calling this a ‘grisette’, when the term ‘table saison’ is equally appropriate, but I’ve noticed breweries adopting the terminology, and I figure since I’m not using a saison yeast specifically it gives me some flexibility if the beer turns out entirely not saison-like.
I’ll be using BBY001, Montreal Ale Yeast. I’m not sure if this is a commercial origin strain, as the brewery whose beer I obtained it from does not seem to respond to any emails. It’s a Belgian-style strain with the unique quality of being both highly attenuative and decently flocculant. My best guess is that it’s close to the Orval strain. I’ve got that banked so I’ll have to do an experiment some time.
This should be a dry beer yet still possess distinctive grain flavour, layered with a combination of European and American hops. I chose Amarillo and Hallertauer because I think the former’s bright, vibrant orange will pair well with the latter’s flowery spiciness, creating a balanced hop character.
Coal Miner’s Daughter (1 gallon)
Estimated OG (70% efficiency): 1.041
Actual OG: 1.043
Estimated IBU: 24
1.25 lb / 77% 2-row pale malt
4 oz / 15% flaked spelt
2 oz / 8% acidulated malt
Mash at 148F for 60 minutes (BIAB)
0.25 oz / 20 IBU Hallertauer Mittelfruh (60 minutes)
0.5 oz / 4 IBU Amarillo (1 minute)
0.25 oz each Amarillo and Hallertauer (dry hop 5 days)
Yeast: BBY001 Montreal Ale Yeast (about 30 billion cells)
As predicted, this mash smelled incredible. I’ll be putting spelt in some form into my farmhouse ales in the future just for the aroma during the mash. Fermentation took off by the following morning.
Fermentation appears done, moved downstairs to a colder area to condition.
Clear beer, down to 1.010. Nice slightly fruity wheat aroma with lots of wheat and hop flavour.
1.008 – 4.5% abv and 81% attenuation. Bottled after 7 days dry hopping.