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.
Le Quatre Saisons
Size: 11.5 gallons
Boil: 60 minutes
70% Canadian Pils Malt
20% White Wheat Malt
10% Munich Light (10L)
20 IBU Magnum @ 60
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.
#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