Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tropic King Clone

I have always really liked Saison. It is a style of beer that is so versatile. It was originally brewed for seasonal farm workers (Saison means season in French). The beer was meant to be refreshing and invigorating for farm laborers. For this reason it was both low in gravity and alcohol with a nice hoppiness that both helped preserve it and make it more refreshing. Over the years Saison has changed quite a bit. It is now often much higher in gravity and alcohol and can range quite a bit in flavor. One of the reasons that I like the style is that it has so much variety, not to mention a dry hoppy beer with an expressive yeast strain just sounds delicious!
I recently had the opportunity to try Tropic King, brewed by Funkwerks. This beer is an “Imperial Saison” with an ABV of 7.5 %. What makes the beer unique is the hops used. When you open up the bottle you are instantly transported to a tropical island as the aroma of passion fruit, grapefruit, and pineapple dance up out of the glass. The beer is incredible smooth and refreshing with hints of ginger, spice, pepper, and all those tropical fruits. Despite the high ABV you would can not smell or taste any alcohol which makes this a rather dangerous beer because it is so refreshing it just disappears from your glass.
For my most recent batch I decided to duplicate Tropic King. After a little poking around on the internet I found a recipe that claims it is from Gordon who works at the brewery. It looks about right and I decided to give it a try.
To start I bought a bottle of Tropic King and cultured the yeast from the bottle, growing it up to a quart starter.

OG: 1.065
FG: 1.007
SRM: 5.6
IBU 30
Grain Bill
Pale Malt 76%
Munich 10°L 16 %
Wheat Malt 5 %
Carapils 3 %
Mash Schedule
144 F 10 minutes
158 F 20 minutes
170 F 10 minutes
Rakau 12.7AA 60min 0.415oz/5gallon
Rakau 12.7AA 10min 0.484oz/5gallon
Opal 7.9AA 0min 0.668oz/5gallon
Rakau 12.7AA Dry hop 0.634oz/5gallon

Wyeast 3711 French Saison pitch at 65, ramp up to 75 over 48 hours
I followed the above recipe with only minor changes (Single Step Mash 1 hour at 155 F and using yeast from the bottle).
I hit my OG right on at 1.065 for a 3 gallon batch, I cooled the beer to 65 F and added my decanted yeast starter. To my surprise over the next 6 days I saw very little fermentation activity. There was certainly a kreusen but it was nothing special. When I went to move the beer to secondary and dry hop it I took a gravity reading, 1.007. The beer is currently being dry hopped and should be in the bottle ready to be tasted in a few weeks.

Tasting Notes:

The beer quickly carbonated in the bottle. It was ready a week after being bottled.

Appearance:  A light brown color with a thick haze. A strong head pours and is easily brought back to life with a swirl of the glass.

Aroma: Citrus fruits, pineapple, passion fruit, ginger, a little hint of green apple, no alcohol. 

Taste: The beer is all hops with a subtle malt backbone. I can taste pepper, ginger, and pineapple. The finish is a little bitter but quickly leaves the tongue with a clean refreshing bite. 

Mouthfeel: Medium and surprisingly full for the low final gravity.

Overall: This beer turned out awesome and was a big hit with my friends. I will certainly brew it again, just have to find away to continue to get a hold of the special hops.

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