Thursday, May 19, 2011

Session Series: San Diego Session Saison

The idea for this beer came to me at the Stone Brewing AHA Rally a couple of months ago. It was a warm day and we were consuming a good amount of beverages and a lot of those beers were just big beers. I am very much a weather or situational drinker. (Just like I think it is gross for people to drink Milk at breakfast, it's a dinner drink). For me when the weather is warm I want a dry beer with a decent amount of carbonation. It needs to be thrist quenching. Which I completely associate with Belgian Saisons. They hit you with all this great flavor, but the best ones are nice and dry so they don't stay on your tongue too long and the high carbonation flushes your mouth for the next gulp.

With that thought in mind, I wanted to tailor this beer to have local influences. Considering I live 20 miles from the Mexican border. I thought I would try to use some traditional Mexican ingredients. The difficult part with this is trying to translate food flavors to beer flavors and still maintain the light refreshing beverage I was hoping for. I started thinking of some of my favorite Mexican dishes, like Mole, Chile Verde and fresh Tamales. A Mole beer sounds pretty amazing actually, but I don't see that relating well to a session style (For my Dark Saison coming up, this may work out nicely). The next one that hit me was the maize from the Tamales. As a brewer I can easily use flaked corn (though I may try maize next time), Plus the flaked corn will really help to lighten the body and help me achieve that easy drinking, warm weather beer. A few other ingredients I will experiment with in small secondary batches include Ancho chiles (Jeff B's idea at 1227 Brewing), cilantro, and  lime only seems logical.

Saisons also traditionally have some simple sugars added to help them dry out. I probably don't need to add the simple sugar because this beer should dry out due to the yeast I selected (Wyeast 3711). But for this beer the sugar addition will allow me to add another traditional Mexican ingredient and another layer of flavor. I will be using piloncillo, which is basically mexican brown sugar and is used in traditional beverages like tepache.

The final decision for this beer comes down to yeast selection. I think more than any other style the yeast for a Saison is crucial. The flavors for this style are almost all yeast driven. I did a fair amount of reading on BabbleBelt about Saisons. I finally decided on the Wyeast 3711: French Saison it got some great reviews, finished quickly and only needed to be brewed in the 70s. The temperature was a big key on this one because I am doing my first 10 gal batch. The larger batch meant I needed another fermenter so I am trying another first, fermenting in a keg (it worked great and I might be a convert once I have a bigger fridge).


Recipe: San Diego Session Saison
O.G.-1.044  F.G.-1.006   IBU-21 Size -10 gal
SRM-3   ABV-4.8%  

Grain Bill (76% Efficiency):
12 lb Belgian Pilsner (80%)
2 lbs Flaked Corn (13%)
1 lb Piloncillo Sugar (7%) - added to Boil

.8 oz Amarillo, 9.5%, pellet, 60 min, 17.6 IBU
2 oz Saaz, 3.2%, pellet, 10 min 3.2 IBU

Made 1.5 L starter divided equally of Wyeast 3711: French Saison

Brew Day:
Brewed: 4/3/11
Kegged: 4/16/11

San Diego (Alvarado) Tap Water
1 campden tablet for 5 gal.

Mash Details:
H2O/Grain Ratio: 1 qt/lb
Mash Volume: 3.5 gal
Sacc Rest. Temp/Time: 148F @ 60min
Strike Temp: 161F
Sparge Volume: 9 gal
Sparge Temp/Time: 170F

Boil Details:
Boil Volume: 11 gal
Boil Time: 60min
Post Boil Volume: 10 gal

Ferment Details:
O.G.: 1.044
Ferment Temp: 65-67F(carboy version)
Ferment Temp: 72-76F (keg version)
Primary Length: 10 days

This yeast performed just like all the reports I read. It took off quite quickly and it appeared most of the fermentation was done in a few days. I didn't measure the gravity at that time. The keg fermented version was transferred, force carbonated and drank at my friend's bachelor party all within 2 weeks of being brewed.

I will follow-up with a side by side tasting of the 2 versions.

Tasting 6-6-11

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