Brewing Log – Rye Saison and Saison #2

Soooooo……. about those brewing updates I promised last post. Here’s some notes from my first two attempts at brewing a Saison.

Rye Saison and Saison #2
My infatuation with brewing farmhouse ales has hit full swing. I’m really trying to hone in on a great saison recipe. The Rye Saison I brewed for Big Brew is now just a memory. I didn’t take any tasting notes, but recall the sharpness from the rye being pretty dominate. There wasn’t too much flavor from the spices or citrus in the mix. I wanted to start the recipe with a very small amount of blended spices and gradually step them up in the next batch (if needed). The phenols from the Wyeast 3711 fermented intentionally warm (+70F) really came through, which I think also accented the rye. Overall I was very happy with the finished product for a first attempt.

For my second attempt I decided to cut the rye and opted for a higher percentage of wheat. I used a combination of wheat malt and flaked wheat, which really contributed nicely to the mouthfeel in my opinion. The amount of spices was increased to allow more perceived flavor. The last major difference I made was keeping the fermentation temperature closer to 65F. This batch was brewed on 4/28 in order to be kegged for Jen’s surprise 30th birthday party on 5/18. Given the fast turnaround time the beer was a little cloudy, but it could’ve also been from the wheat. The keg kicked in a couple of hours, which is always a good sign! I was very pleased with the way it turned out. It was definitely an improvement from the first attempt. Here’s the recipe:

Jen’s 3-0 Saison
Brewed April 28, 2012
Yeast: Wyeast 3711
Starter: No
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.5
Target Original Gravity: 1.055
IBU: 26
Efficiency: 79%
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Color: 5 SRM
Mash: Single Infusion @ 151F (60 minutes) – Batch Sparge

Grain Bill:
5 lb Pilsner (48.5%)
21 oz White Wheat Malt (12.7%)
1 lb Flaked Wheat (9.7%)
1.5 lb Munich Malt (14.6%)
1.5 Pale Malt (14.6%)

Hops/Additions:
60 min 1 oz Tettnang (4.8%)
20 min 1 oz Czech Saaz (3%)
15 min Irish Moss
10 min 1 oz Czech Saaz (3%)
5 min Spices:
Coriander (16 grams)
Grains of Paradise (1/4 tsp)
Star Anise (6 blades)
Bitter orange peel (1/2 oz)
Sweet orange peel (1/2 oz)

Because Wyeast 3711 is such a beast and I’ll be brewing with it again soon, I decided to wash the yeast from this batch. There’s a ton of instructions and how to videos on the various methods to harvest yeast. I basically follow Bernie Brewer’s how to on hombrewtalk.com. The only things I do differently is use less water (and jars) and place the carboy on its side when allowing it to sit. This way the yeast gets disturbed less when pouring into the mason jars. Here’s some pics of my process:

Less is more. Saison brew day

For the past month I’ve been finding some great examples of farmhouse ales. From the Saison du Buff collaboration to a funky Bam Biere by Jolly Pumpkin, these beers have been my “go-to” styles. Farmhouse ales from the Wallonia region of Belgium and northern parts of modern day France represent a diverse range of flavors. In addition to sampling, I also picked up Phil Markowski’s book about Biere de Garde and Saisons. The diversity makes sense given the beer was brewed traditionally for sustainability. Batches were brewed in the winter to be consumed by workers during the late summer months and never left the farm. Besides historic research, the book provides a basis for recipe formulation. It was definitely a great buy which I highly recommend.

With Iron Hill in Maple Shade hosting Big Brew Day on Cinco de Mayo, I thought a Saison would be perfect to brew for the occasion. I choose Pilsner as my base malt considering most recipes use this. There are examples of unconventional grains being used so I added a decent percentage of rye malt to give some spiciness. One of the facinating things about saisons is how some brewers use a mix of spices while others rely soley on the yeast strain for that distinct saison flavor profile. I decided to go with a less is more approach and mixed a small portion of multiple spices that will hopefully add a sutble note. Monday night brewing went perfectly and I hit almost every number. My OG was a couple points high, but that’s never a bad thing! Here’s the run.down:

Big Brew Day Saison
Brewed March 26, 2012
Yeast: Wyeast 3711
Starter: No
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.5
Target Original Gravity: 1.056
IBU: 33
Efficiency: 75%
Boiling Time (Minutes): 80
Color: 5 SRM
Mash: Single Infusion @ 148F (60 minutes) – Batch Sparge

Grain Bill:
7.87 lb Pilsner (69.22%)
2 lb Rye Malt (17.5%)
1 lb White Wheat Malt (8.8%)
8 oz Munich Malt (4.4%)

Hops/Additions:
60 min 1 oz Northern Brewer (8%)
20 min 1 oz Strisslespalt (2.3%)
15 min Irish Moss
5 min 1 oz Czech Saaz (3%)
5 min Spices:
Coriander (9 grams)
Black Pepper (1/4 tsp)
Star Anise (3 blades)
Orange peel (1 whole)
Grapefruit peel (1/4 of skin)