Friday, June 22, 2012

The Great Saison Experiment: 8 Strains - Part 1

The year of experimentation continues. Saison has increasing become one of my favorite styles to brew (and consume) since I have delved into more examples of the style and read Farmhouse Ales. For me the style allows for a lot of creative freedom, which is a main reason that I homebrew. After all the research I have done both from tasting and reading, I have formulated my basic recipe:

Malt Bill

  • 0-10% sugar (used on beers above 1.050, possible creative twist with using unique sugar types: piloncillo, jaggery, candi sugar, turbinado, treacle, sorghum, palm sugar, honey, date syrup)
  • 10-25% non-barley grain (this addition gives the beer its historic rustic note without dominating the flavor profile, also helps with head retention and mouthfeel, possible creative twist using non-standard grain types: spelt, triticale, rye, millet, bulgar wheat, pearled farro, amaranth, oats, buckwheat..)
  • Balance - Pilsner malt (I haven't been able to nail down a specific brand I like, but I always think it is best to try to keep it as traditional as possible. I'm using Weyermann because that is what I could get locally in a 55 lb sack. I'd like to try the Briess Less Modified Pilsner Malt or some Franco-Belges.
  • *Acid Malt can be added to adjust mash pH or  at 10-15% to add some tartness


  • You need firm bitterness, but your IBUs don't need to be very high because of the super low finishing gravity. I use around .5 IBU/OG Ratio and I find this works pretty well. My palate doesn't like much bitterness so you can adjust accordingly.
  • I like a neutral hop like Magnum for the main bittering charge. Then for aroma, you can either go spicy (Saaz or similar) or earthy (Styrian Goldings or similar) with about an ounce (or two) near the end of the boil.
  • Recently I have been experimenting with dry-hopping and have really enjoyed the results. I suggest tasting the beer after fermentation and finding a complimenting hop flavor. Last year, the citrus from the WY 3711 yeast went great with Amarillo hops. This year I'm going to try some home grown Cascade (big grapefruit) in the 3711 batch and probably more Saaz in the Dupont version.


  • Step Mash - Traditional. Dank Brewer outlines a typical Saison mash profile that is well proven.
  • Single Infusion Mash -  For homebrew simplicity, I use around 148-150 for O.G. <1.050 and highly attenuative yeast (Wyeast 3711). If you are brewing a higher gravity saison and/or using a less attenutive yeast (Dupont), try mashing closer to 145- 147.
  • You will also probably need some acid malt or other way to lower your mash pH for better conversion.

For this big batch of Saison I wanted to know more about what each yeast strain adds to the beer so I kept the recipe fairly simple. I had 2 choices to make 20 gals, I could either brew 2 - 10 gal batches or brew 1 concentrated batch and dilute in the fermentor. In an effort to keep everything consistant I went with the latter. I designed my recipe for double the strength of everything I wanted. So the actual batch had an O.G. of 1.088, 42 IBUs and 8 SRM. And somehow I fit 31 lbs of grain into my 10 gal Igloo mash tun.

Recipe: 2012 Table Saison

Batch Size 20.0 gal        O.G.-1.044           F.G.-TBD
IBU-21                             SRM-4                 ABV-TBD

Grain Bill (77% Efficiency):
25 lb Pilsner Malt (78%)
5 lb Rolled Oats (16%)
1 lb Acid Malt (3%)
1 lb Piloncillo (3%)

2 oz Super Styrian, 9.5%, pellet, 90 min 38.7 IBU (From Niko Brew)
2 oz Styrian Golding, 4.5%, pellet, 10 min 3.8 IBU

Water Profile, Yeast Varieties and Fermentation will be discussed in Part 2.

1 comment:

  1. On the edge of my seat waiting to hear about the 8 strains and the treatment of fermentation.


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