Jarod Morgan, winner of the single hop varietal homebrew competition earlier this year, spent the morning of Figtoberfest brewing his hüll melon wheat saison at the Buellton flagship brewery. Monster Melons, a brew affectionately named by Jarod’s mother, is the product of a combination of the characteristics of a saison and a hefeweisen using hüll melon hops and Dr. Saisonstein’s Monster yeast from Omega Yeast Labs.
“My original concept was to brew a hybrid,” Jarod explained. “I wanted to keep the fermentables simple, and added rye to give the brew more body and rye flavor characteristics, if they came through. Sandy [owner of Valley Brewers] showed me the yeast strain and the beer took off from there.” Dr. Saisonstein's Monster yeast itself if a hybridized yeast strain, combining several saison yeasts while focusing on the fruity rather than spicy aspects of a saison. The rye will impart a small amount of texture, but the cracker and fresh loafy bread taste will come predominately from the wheat.
This was Jarod’s first homebrew competition, and although he attributes his success to beginners luck, his recipe and his tenacity during the brew session suggested otherwise. “I want to be as hands on as possible,” Jarod laughs after he and Kevin, Santa Barbara Head Brewer and Creative Director, punch bags of grain to loosen them up into the mash ton. “I’ve been home brewing for the last 8 or so years. I started out small, but it just exploded from there,” recollects Jarod. “Being a part of Valley Brewers has helped a lot. There are a lot of great brewers and great resources.”
While Jarod’s original brew contained high quality extracts, the brewers decided to go for a feat of authenticity the second time around. “We’ve never brewed a beer with this much wheat,” Kevin states. “Maybe 45%, but 60% is new for our brew house. A mash ton full of that much protein can really gum up our system; we’re expecting a 2-2.5 hour runoff.” With high protein grain profiles such as this one, it’s easy for equipment to clog. The brewers stayed attentive to this possibility and used proactive techniques, such as adding rice hulls to provide a proper grain bed while filtering the wort.
The hüll melon hops used expose meadowy, floral, and subtle hints of melon fruit in its aroma, however, this particular beer is about the yeast. Stein’s monster saison will impart a surplus of stonefruit aromas and flavors. “We’re fermented this beer fairly hot to get the most fruit characteristics out of this particular ale yeast,” states Kevin. You can expect this deceptively strong, dry, merrigold, wheat saison in all taprooms towards the end of October. Clocking in at around 8%, this beer will be a great transition into the cooler months and the ambiance that comes with harvest season.