Tag Archives: saison

Table Saison

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.
table-saisonFor 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

Recipe Overview

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

Other Ingredients

Yeast: ECY03 Farmhouse Brett

Mash Type: Full Mash
Step: Rest at 148 degF for 90 mins


Brewday: American Saison

I’ve had a long-term love/hate relationship with Belgian beers, but this year I fell in love with Saisons. They’re often everything you don’t find in a typical Belgian beer, hoppy, dry and bitter [Note: I know there are some Belgian beers like this, calm down]. I made a Saison last fall (2010) with the Wyeast 3711 strain, and found it enjoyable, but nothing like the ECY03 strain. I made an admittedly over-the-top Saison this summer (be careful with your ABV calculations with a beer that attenuates 90%+), which was really good once the heat of the summer went away, and since that keg kicked, I’ve been planning it’s return.

This summer’s Saison was around 8% ABV, which is too big for me, especially in the summer, so today’s Saison is targeted for 5.4%. The Saison I made this summer was bittered with Columbus hops, and dry-hopped with Centennial. Today’s was bittered with Centennial, and got a flameout addition of Centennial and Amarillo. I’m planning to keg-hop it with whole-leaf Cascade hops, but we’ll see about that when it comes time to keg.

Since East Coast Yeast is so hard to find, I made sure to save my yeast from this summer, and last week I washed it and made a starter. Sure enough, there was life in the starter after less than 24 hours. I crashed and decanted, then fed it with some cooled second runnings this morning to wake it back up. That yeast did not disappoint, and within an hour there was a krausen forming in the starter.

As there’s Brettanomyces in this particular blend of microbes, I’m not sure how long I’m going to let it sit in primary before packaging it, only my nose can tell. I’m looking for a little Brett character, but not too much.
american-saison-brewdayToday also marked the first brewday with outdoor temps below freezing. It was 10ºF outside when I started, and we peaked at around 20ºF mid-day, which didn’t do me much good, because by then, I was trying to use the outdoor ambient temps to cool my wort. A good reminder that I need to get a manageable hose set up indoors to run my wort chiller through the seemingly longest season of the year in Maine. The steam dumping out of the boil kettle is from wort that’s not even close to boiling yet.

Recipe: 2011 Saison w/Brett (ECY03)
Style: 16C-Belgian And French Ale-Saison

Recipe Overview

Wort Volume Before Boil: 7.0 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 5.25 US gals
Volume At Pitching: 5.25 US gals
Final Batch Volume: 5.0 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.041 SG
Expected OG: 1.051 SG
Expected FG: 1.010 SG
Expected ABV: 5.4 %
Expected ABW: 4.3 %
Expected IBU (using Daniels): 44.5
Expected Color: 5 SRM
Apparent Attenuation: 79.9 %
Mash Efficiency: 70.0 %
Boil Duration: 60.0 mins
Fermentation Temperature: 76 degF

German Wheat Malt 4lb 3oz (41.1 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Pale Ale Malt 4lb 0oz (39.2 %) In Mash/Steeped
German Munich Malt 2lb 0oz (19.6 %) In Mash/Steeped

US Centennial (8.5 % alpha) 0.75 oz Loose Pellet Hops used First Wort Hopped
US Centennial (8.5 % alpha) 0.75 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 15 Min From End
US Amarillo (5.0 % alpha) 1.80 oz Loose Whole Hops used 1 Min From End

Yeast: East Coast Yeast 03 – Farmhouse Saison

Mash Schedule
Mash Type: Full Mash
Schedule Name:Single Step Infusion (66C/151F)
Step: Rest at 151 degF for 90 mins

12/25/11: Gravity reading of 1.004 (92.5% attenuation)
12/26/11: Kegged with 1/2 cup priming sugar

French Saison brewday recap

DSCN1632With the brewday behind me and fermentation going strong, it’s time to reflect on what went well and what didn’t, as always.

First of all, the recipe got altered on brewday. I had originally scheduled for only 4 pounds of wheat, but upon calculating what I was going to get for an original gravity, and noting that it will be September before this hits the keg realistically, I decided to go for 7 pounds to push the ABV up around 6%.

Second of all, my buddy brought over his scale (yes, I still don’t have a scale), which allowed me to stop my guesstimating of wheat volume, and actually know *exactly* what was going in. As I expected, my efficiency goes down whenever I use my own milled wheat, but more on that later.

Lastly, whenever I’ve been using more than 30% wheat, I’ve been doing a protein rest. This has thrown my game off everytime, as I am used to a single infusion and ramping up to mash-out. I keep doing my protein rest, going to saccharification rest, then forgetting my mash out. This time I got my whole mash transferred to my lauter tun before realizing it, and decided to skip the mash out rest. This may have contributed to my low efficiency more than I want to give it credit for, but it’s a factor nevertheless.
DSCN1637Instead of my expected 75% efficiency, I hit 65%, which made me glad I bumped up the grain bill. I also had way more hops than I needed for the lower grain bill, so I’m glad to have more gravity points to balance it out.

As to my wheat efficiency, well, I bought a Corona mill a few months back, and I’ve been pretty disappointed with it overall. It seems unable to produce a good crush for barley (big chunks or totally mangling the hulls), and on the wheat, well, I have it cranked down to it’s finest setting, and some bigger chunks still come out. Before I write it off forever as unable to provide good efficiency, I’m going to try double-milling the wheat next batch. My alternative is just use more wheat to make up for the lack of efficiency, and as I have a surplus of free wheat malt at the moment, it’s not really a big deal to do that, it’s just more grain to manage in the mash and lauter tun.

And as for the hops, well, it’s going to be hoppy. Never one to let hops sit on their laurels, I structured my additions to keep the IBUs down, but to use all my hops (2oz each Cascade and Centennial). I’m looking forward to the flavor and aroma profile.

Recipe in process: Farmhouse Ale

munich-maltI’ve finished formulating my recipe for this weekend’s brew, another first for the summer, a saison inspired by this summer’s reading materials.

  • 4lb Pale Malt
  • 2lb Munich Malt
  • 4lb Wheat Malt
  • 1oz Centenniel @FWH
  • 1oz Cascade @FWH
  • 1oz Centenniel @15 min
  • 1oz Cascade @15 min

And the star of the show, 3711 French Saison yeast

I’ll be brewing this weekend, and hopefully we’ll have some warm weather next week to boost fermentation temps.