The Yeast Bay: Le Quatre Saisons

It’s summer, which means it is an easy time to brew Saison for those of us in the typically cooler parts of the country.  With the twist of a cork, high carbonation pushes explosive flavors out the nose of this complex tasting, yet simple brew.  Even though Saison is a term that covers a broad range of brews, the zest in nose, crisp mouthfeel, and lingering spicy finish are signature to this style and extremely refreshing as the days warm up.

Saison is a fun beer to brew, simply because the style is so broad and experimentation is king in my house.  Originally a brew for seasonal workers in the summer, farmhouses would make Saison in the off season so there would be a safe beverage to consume in the working months.  These farmhouses weren’t collaborating on what a Saison should be, they were simply brewing their own style of beer on their own terms.  During this time, workers were entitled to five litres of Saison a day.  Sign me up!

Fortunately for me, I got signed up for a project even more up my alley: testing Saison strains for The Yeast Bay.  Prior to this blog, I didn’t get involved too much in social media and almost missed the opening for Nick’s all-call for beta testers (Nick: TYB Owner).  I sent him my information and luckily was added as the third beta tester for this project.

After ‘meeting’ the other testers Ed & Marshall, as well as Nick via Google Hangout, we formulated a recipe for our first brew.  The first brew would test four strains from… who knows where.  All we knew is they were saccharomyces and Saison was the style.  We went for a simple malt bill, 20IBU, and various mashing/fermentation temperatures.IMG_0950


Le Quatre Saisons
Size: 11.5 gallons
OG: 1.055
IBU: 20
Boil: 60 minutes

70% Canadian Pils Malt
20% White Wheat Malt
10% Munich Light (10L)

20 IBU Magnum @ 60


Strains 1&2 in 3 gallon fermenters


strains 3 and 4 before bottling, about to get some brett

I mashed in at 148F and my fermentation temperature was 67F.  It ended up being more like 68F, but it was far enough from Ed’s 71F that I think the results will be a bit different.  I brewed a 12-gallon batch and split the batch four ways into two 5 – gallon carboys with 3.5 gallons each (Strains 3 &4), and then two 3 – gallon carboys with 2.5 gallons each (Strains 1& 2).

The reason for the larger carboys was that after bottling a six pack off each larger primary, I would be splitting Strains 3 & 4 into four more 1-gallon containers, filling them each with .75 gallons of beer and doing a secondary fermentation with four Brettanomyces strains (again, of unknown origin.)

The brew day was typical and uneventful, I hit the gravity spot on, however  at the end of the brew I ended up with 11.5 gallons of wort.  I hadn’t used my 15 gallon pots in a while (as most of you know who read my stuff, I typically brew on a 55-gallon system and split batches with friends/enemies) and forgot about the loss rate that the system has due to boiling/trub etc.IMG_0912


The unknowns…

After chilling to 67F, the different yeasts were pitched into each fermenter, and I sat back, and waited.  Initial thoughts on the primary fermentation thus far: 2014-05-05 19.28.36

#1 (far left) fermented out quickly and flocculated very well.  Probably the clearest beer by far.

#2 took a long time to ferment down to 1.023, then took a heat ramping to 84F to get down to 1.015

#3 fermented “average” however didn’t get as low as #1

#4 acted very similar to #3.

5/5/14 I pulled samples after two weeks and put tasting notes in my google doc for this test.

5/24/14 All primary strains bottled and Saison is in secondaries with brett strains.

In case you didn’t catch it on Ed’s page here is a copy of who did what re: brew & fermentation

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 10.04.09 AM



More than a Staple

There really isn’t a food as enticing as freshly baked bread.  Evidence shows bread as an integral part of our diet since almost 30,000 years ago.  Many kinds of bread exist today, from flat breads to round ones and every shape and texture in between.  Bread brings people together and is often what holds a meal together.  It is a delivery device for oils, vinegars, soups, stews, curries, and a multitude of other foods.  Bread has been and will be a centerpiece in my home and the loaves have been coming out better and better as I work on my personal methods.2014-03-23 11.15.58

This latest batch of bread was one of the best I’ve ever made.  I made a dough at 78% percent hydration which achieved a perfect, crusty exterior with a chewy, soft interior.  To see how I make the dough (which I use for pizza, bagels, etc.) you can look here at the dough methods page.  Note that hydration changes depending on what product is that is being made, and I simply change the initial amount of water being added.

All the bread is based upon 1000g of flour, so it makes the math easy.  Also, remember that later in the recipe, you’ll be adding 50g of water with the salt addition so be sure to include that in your hydration calculation.  For the bread, I put in 730g of water, then later add the 50g so I get my 780g out of 1000g of flour = hence, the 78% hydration.  For bagels, I use 73% hydration, and for pizza dough, 75%.2014-04-11 18.14.41

Read through the pages on the dough method as well as the shaping page.  Shaping will take time to learn and with practice will end up being quick and graceful so as not to lose any of the gas trapped in the dough.  Play around with fermentation times and temperatures to suit your house and living style.  I’ve fermented doughs overnight in the basement or fridge, and I’ve also tried rushing the process by increasing the temperature (not recommended.)  Have fun with it and email me if you have any questions.2013-12-27 19.31.08

crusty bread with brie and roasted red pepper/mint/parsley spread


This is a brand new blog, and I’m updating it daily – trying to fill in all the headers with methods that are tried and true.  Experiments will enter as posts and become headers eventually as they work.  If you try any of the methods and don’t understand anything, shoot me an email at  

Picts will fill in as time allows, I’ll be incorporating many of the threads I have posted into a more formal approach.  I’ll post when things are “up and running.”   

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