OK, so, I’ve learned some lessons now after doing two saisons. First, Saison yeasts are highly attenuative. If you build a recipe like you would for an American yeast, or even worse, an English yeast, and then use a Saison yeast, you’re in for a shocker when it comes to ABV. Second, due to the really high level of attenuation, you need to watch your bitterness ratio. Bittering like an IPA is unnecessary, there’s no need for it. Keep the hops in the back end, and go easy on the bitterness.
Now that I’ve solidly learned (read: violated) those guidelines, my intention was to formulate a Saison as a table beer. Something between 3-4% alcohol, easy to drink, but lots of flavor from the Saison yeast and from the hops. The Saison strain that I’ve been using comes from East Coast Yeast, and has a brettanomyces strain as well. This is now the 4th generation, so it’s hard to say what the culture balance is, but it still tasted great on the last batch.
I also wanted to go for more of a rustic grain character on this batch, so I used unmalted wheat and munich malt, in addition to 2-row barley, malted wheat, and a small addition of C20.
For the hop bill, I opted to try a hop-bursting technique, which consisted of only a 20 minute, 5 minute and flameout addition. Despite the low utilization rate on these hops, they were all high-alpha hops (Nugget and Columbus), so I was able to achieve a respectably high bittering ratio with no more than an ounce at each addition.
My plans were all well and good, but I achieved an unexpected level of efficiency on this batch (87%), for which I was able to cut out a planned sugar addition, but I still overshot my gravity by 10 points. So, if it attenuates as planned, I’ll be looking at about a 5% saison. Not too bad, but I’m going to have to take my very high level of efficiency into account when formulating the next batch. My efficiency seems to increase with lower grain bill volumes.
Style: 16C-Belgian And French Ale-Saison
Wort Volume Before Boil: 7.75 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 6.00 US gals
Volume Transferred: 5.50 US gals
Water Added: 0.00 US gals
Volume At Pitching: 5.50 US gals
Final Batch Volume: 5.02 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.027 SG
Expected OG: 1.035 SG
Expected FG: 1.008 SG
Expected ABV: 3.6 %
Expected ABW: 2.9 %
Expected IBU (using Daniels): 32.7
Expected Color: 4.7 SRM
Apparent Attenuation: 77.9 %
Mash Efficiency: 75.0 %
Boil Duration: 90.0 mins
Fermentation Temperature: 77 degF
UK Pale Ale Malt 4lb 0oz (51.7 %) In Mash/Steeped
US Soft White Winter Wheat 1lb 4oz (15.9 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Wheat Malt 1lb 0oz (12.9 %) In Mash/Steeped
German Munich Malt 1lb 0oz (12.9 %) In Mash/Steeped
US Caramel 20L Malt 8.00 oz (6.5 %) In Mash/Steeped
US Nugget (13.0 % alpha) 0.75 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 20 Min From End
US Nugget (13.0 % alpha) 1.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 5 Min From End
US Columbus(Tomahawk) (15.5 % alpha) 1.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used At turn off
Yeast: ECY03 Farmhouse Brett
Mash Type: Full Mash
Step: Rest at 148 degF for 90 mins