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Test Batch #1 – Saaz

October 19, 2009

Lately I have been wondering how I can try out different styles without making (and possibly stuffing up) a whole batch of beer – now, the Basic Brewing Video podcast has given me the answer; small 4L test batches.

I went out and purchased a couple of 5L demijohns to be used as ‘mini-carboys’. I then got a grain bag and a really small 6 can esky to use as a mashtun. I now have the ability to produce a small quantity of all-grain beer for the use as a test batch of beer.

For my first test batch, I decided to try and use up the rest of a supply of Saaz that I had in the freezer, to get a good idea of the flavour profile of Saaz. My ingredient list consisted of the following:

  • 1kg Joe White Pilsener Malt
  • 10g Saaz @ 45mins
  • 10g Saaz @ 15mins
  • 10g Saaz @ 5mins
  • 10g Saaz @ Flame-out
  • Saflager W-34/70

Mashed at 65°C for 45mins. Boil volume of 5.5L. 60 minute boil.

Ended up with 4.5L in the fermenter……well, that has a story in itself….

Due to the largish amount of hops in such a small volume of wort, I had a large problem with an extremely excessive amount of trub getting into the demijohn. I attempted to strain alot of the hop material out as I poured but couldn’t strain any of the proteins so I ended up with a pillow of gunk in the bottom…..that and there was a very, VERY green hue to the whole wort….ahem.

Oh well. This is the idea anyway. A way to try different things without risking stuffing up a whole batch of beer. Will let it ferment for about a week then cold crash and bottle.

It was a whole lot of fun and I highly recommend it.

Update – 4 November
Bottled this into 330ml bottles and primed with dextrose. Man, what an experience this was! My suggestion is that you have a buddy help you with this part as trying to fill the bottles whislt holding the syphon hose off the bottom of the demijohn was not easy. Ended up with alot of the floor! Beer looks clear in the bottle though, will give it a week or so to carb up then see how it turned out.

Update – 8 November
Cracked open a 330ml bottle of this today to taste the experiment.

Opened with a decent hiss for only a week of priming. Pours a decent head…on top of a nice, pale green liquid! 🙂 Smells fruity and hoppy. Flavour is quite balanced for the amount of hops that went in. Saaz flavour comes through quite strong but is very refreshing. The combination of yeast and higher fermentation temp has produced expected fruitiness but doesn’t overpower – would expect it to mellow with a few more weeks in the bottle. Overall, an interesting result for such a weird first test. Looking forward to trying this test out in the future with many more combinations of ingredients!


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  1. Flash_DG permalink

    Great Idea been thinking of doing the same thing.
    I don’t usually drink alot and having to get through 23L of beer so I can get on to a new batch will be the death of me lol.
    I got a few people wanting to help me out getting through them but still not sure my liver would thank me for it.
    So yeah was thinking of half batches but was unsure whether it would turn out ok or not seeing as nearly every recipe I have read is a 21-23L batch I figured there must be a reason for it.
    I hope it turns out well and I will be following your progress.

    Cheers Flash_DG

    • Thanks Flash_DG!

      I use Beersmith to create all my recipes and it has an automatic ‘Scale Down’ function which allows you to convert full batch recipes to small batches. It helped me a lot in getting ready for the test batch and making sure the IBUs and OG would be ok. Will keep you updated!

  2. padden permalink

    Hey Matt, how did the little esky go holding the temp for an hour? Because of the much lower volume I thought it may drop a few more degrees than normal…


    • The little esky held up really well!

      I was a little concerned with it loosing a couple of degress so after I mashed in, I put the lid on and buried it in a couple of towels. After my 50ish min mash, it had only lost about .5 degress.

      I think that little bit of extra insulation really helped.

  3. flash_dg permalink

    So how did it taste when you bottled?
    much as you expected, a bit stronger?

    • It wasn’t too bad in the end! Slightly green but that didn’t effect the taste at all. I would use a different yeast next time but I would consider the experiment a success!

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