The moment of truth for this fir beer experiment! Will it be godawful or great?
…whatever, I’m just going to kill the suspense right off and say that I love this beer. Flat out love it. As of bottling day it’s an unqualified success; we’ll see how bottle conditioning goes but Pseudomalainen is not giving me much motivation to let it sit around. I would like you to take a moment to look at my firhti. LOOK AT IT. IT’S BEAUTIFUL.
As a little bit of a digression, I just popped champagne yeast into the wort without having much idea about the difference that would make. Do, then research: it’s the Way of the Ape. There seems to have been a shift in the conventional wisdom on how champagne yeast and beer work out. As of a couple of years ago, there was a very rough consensus that using champagne yeast would make for an unpalatably dry beer, and that its primary use in beermaking was as a secondary fermentation to keep really big beers chugging along on their way to 12-15% ABV. More recently, I’ve seen more people saying that champagne yeast ferments the hell out of sucrose, glucose, and fructose, but isn’t as good at digesting maltose (one of the primary sugars in malt, thus in wort), and therefore giving a kinda paradoxical result–sweeter beer.
I can now weigh in on this. Champagne yeast DOES make a sweeter beer. This firhti has a very gentle sweetness and a similarly gentle tartness, which is likely a combination of the rye, the champagne yeast’s influence, and the resiny tang of the fir. The fir itself is not overpowering–funny thing is, it’s not even especially prominent! Mostly it shows up as a resinous note in the finish and a freshly herbal, long-lasting aftertaste. There’s also a really nice edge of funk. Ingestion testing* suggests something in the neighborhood of 6% ABV (the ape has no actual idea, as her hydrometer is still in its original packaging and will stay there like a naughty puppy).
I seem to have stumbled upon a very well-balanced recipe with this first attempt and gotten lucky with environmental conditions for fermenting (i.e. the weather has hovered around 60-65F of its own free will this whole time). I’m in love with the funk and the resin in the same place. THIS IS A GOOD BEER.
Anybody with access to a fir tree should consider rigging up a batch of this. I think you’ll like it too.
* Ingestion testing is about as scientific as it sounds. In short: I had one.