The one style I have really yet to dive into is the saison. Clean, crisp, and versatile, the saison has become a favorite style of most craft breweries in recent years. It seems as though in establishments across the country, there are two commonalities on the tap list: a bold American IPA, and a effervescent saison. I have decided to bring this style on as my first 10 gallon batch as well. Shooting for an OG of around 1.055 or less and the grain bill comprised roughly 80% Belgian Pilsner Malt and 15% Flaked Wheat, it shouldn’t run too far over budget as far as price is concerned. The saison, as a beer style in the BJCP guidelines, is wide open to interpretation and can be brewed a number of different ways. I plan on splitting the batch and fiddling with each half separately.
Recipe: 11 gallons post boil – 72% Efficiency (OG – 1.050; FG 1.005; IBU 25-35)
18.5 lb (79%) Belgian Pilsner Malt
3.5 lb (16%) Flaked Wheat
Mash in at 150F for 90 minutes
Collect runoff and boil for 90 minutes to eliminate chances for DMS accumulation from Pilsner malt.
2 oz Amarillo FWH
1 oz Amarillo @ 10 mins
1 oz Amarillo @ FO
Split batch into two 5.5 gallon fermenters and pitch 1L starter each of WY3711 French Saison yeast
Add 2 lb wildflower honey and 1 oz Amarillo DH when krausen begins to fall or around 1.015
Fruit! – haven’t yet decided, maybe nectarines, strawberries, blackberries or cherries thrown into a secondary vessel
I plan on adding the honey directly into the fermenter at high or falling krausen which will hopefully minimize the chances of any contamination with wild yeast or bacteria though competitive inhibition (although it may be a nice funk/sour twist if some do take hold). Although a more sure fire way of preventing this is adding it towards the end of the boil (the last 10-15 minutes or so), but this will boil off most of the volatile aroma and flavor compounds that the honey may provide, leaving just fermentable sugar to dry out the beer. Adding it directly during primary fermentation will contain most of these delicate compounds in the beer and provide another level of complexity. Honey is almost 80-90% sugar, which is an environment that does not promote growth of bacteria/yeast, but once it is diluted in the beer, some trapped cells may be able to take off.
I have read a few mead forums and there are numerous mead makers that have used a “no heat” method. Here, they make their mead by mixing the honey, water and yeast nutrient, along with sanitized fruit, raisins, what have you, at room temperature with no contamination. One mead maker described that in his experience of 10+ years of making mead with this technique, he has yet to have a contaminated batch.
I contemplated on leaving the second split alone and see how the base would turn out. I also though that was pretty damn boring as well. The nice peppery, fruity yeast derived flavors and aromas from these Belgian/French yeast strains go very well with stone fruit or berries. Ill most likely end up picking some berries later in the summer at a pick-your-own farm, or buying some fresh fruit from the neighboring fruit markets and freezing it in a gallon ziplock bag after peeling and cutting/processing. Freezing will kill the yeast and rupture the cell walls of the fruit, when thawed, will impart a more full fruit flavor to the beer. I plan on adding the frozen fruit to the empty sanitized fermenter and racking the beer off of the primary yeast cake onto the fruit and allowing it to ferment secondarily for a month or two longer.
I hopefully will get the ball rolling within the next month.