Saisons were originally brewed to quench the thirst of working farmhands first and foremost. Meeting certain flavors or styles were probably never a thought in the original brewers head. According to Yvan De Baets in Farmhouse Ales Culture and Craftsmanship in the Belgian Tradition, " They were essentially very local beers developed in farmhouse breweries, brewed only during part of the year and rarely distributed outside of their immediate region or even outside their village." It was as if your local CO-OP brewed a beer with local grains and was only really drank by people in your town. He continues, "The recipes varied greatly from one brewery to another and very few written records exist for these beers" I love the idea that the brewers were probably flying by the seat of there pants when brewing, taking inspiration from the local harvest and not being able to replicate much of the recipes because of the time of the year, the weather, or the temperature.
A lot of my brewing ideas come from either beers I have enjoyed or beers making news on Beeradvocate. Recently I have become infatuated with the idea of Farmhouse ales. As has half of the new or newer breweries out there i.e. Hill Farmstead, Tired Handsand Stillwater Artisanal Ales More specifically I have started to like the idea of saisons with the use of vintage grains and adjuncts. Grains like spelt, oats, wheat, rye, etc. can add a rustic charm to this style of beer. For this beer I decided to use a unique grain bill containing Rye, Oats, and Spelt. Rye malt should add a spicy character, Oats should increase body's and head retention, Spelt should add a unique and rustic charm. I also included a pound of Rice hulls to aid in my runoff. The adjuncts will probably become fairly thick in the mash and the rice hulls will create a better bed to run off the mash more smoothly. For color and head retention I added crystal 120. This darker crystal malt will provide me with more of a dark amber color in the 16 SRM range. I have been wanting to brew a darker version of a Saison for awhile and with the colder weather coming soon it seemed like the perfect time.
These beers could also vary greatly from farm to farm because of the various yeasts used. I have experimented before with this style of beer and found the Wyeast 3742 strain to be very finicky. The yeast itself is the DuPont yeast strain and relies on a temperature rise to finish fermentation. The beer when fermenting stalls around 1.035 S.G. and won't finish unless you raise the temperature to 90+ degrees. Thus I decided to switch it up this summer to the Wyeast 3711 strain, French Saison yeast. This yeast needs no temperature rise and also rips through fermentation in a matter of days. I have been using this yeast for 6 batches now and have built up quite a colony. It is still fermenting out cleanly and no noticeable off flavors have developed yet. Most of these beers were fermented in the mid 80s in order to achieve that spicy, phenolic character that I enjoy in most saisons. For this beer I have decided to ferment in a lower temperature range. I am shooting for 68-72 degrees. My hope is that I will get a unique flavor and clean fermentation from this temperature.
Just to throw another confusing part at you I mashed in with a bigger grain bill than was needed in order to brew a double batch. I plan on hitting the first 5.5 gallon batch with three additions of all sterling hops which should complement the rye in the batch. Alot of saisons have small sugar additions which help to dry out the beer. For this half of the batch I decided to include 1 pound of local honey for another rustic character to the beer. I am then fermenting it clean with the French Saison yeast. The other 3.5 gallon batch will be bittered only with sterling and then hit with 1 pound of puréed raspberries at flameout. This batch will be fermented with a basic American ale yeast and various dregs from some sour beers I will drink while brewing or have drank this week. Then it will be racked after fermentation to secondary on 3 more pounds of raspberries and 1 oz. Pinot Noir soaked oak chips to condition for the next 6-9 months! The raspberries have been frozen then thawed in order to break the fruits cell walls. The dregs that will be pitched will include, Russian River Supplication, Russian River Consecration, Lost Abbey/New Belgium Mo' Betta Bretta, Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere and Orval. This should be interesting!
Recipe Specs:11 pounds US 2 Row
2 pounds Caramel/Crystal 120
1 pound Briess Rye Malt
1 pound White Wheat Malt
1 pound Flaked Oats
1 pound Flaked Spelt
1 pound Rice Hulls
Harvest Saison Hops/Etc.
1 pound Northwoods Apiaries Raw Honey1 oz. Sterling 7.0 aau @ 60 mins. = 29.30 IBUs
1 oz. Sterling 7.0 aau @ 10 mins. = 5.90 IBUs
Raspberry Sour Hops/Etc.1 pound Organic Raspberries, puréed
3 pounds Organic Raspberries, in secondary
1 oz. Pinot Noir Soaked Oak Cubes Medium Toast
1 oz. Sterling 7.0 aau @ 60 mins. = 29.30 IBUs
Collected 10 gallons of 1.050 S.G. wort. Split into my two kettles and added 1 gallon of filtered water to the raspberry sour kettle. Leaving me with 7 gallons 1.050 S.G. wort for my Harvest Saison and 4 gallons 1.040 S.G. wort for the Raspberry Sour all pre-boil.
Harvest Saison 1.062 S.G. 35 IBUs
Raspberry Sour 1.042 S.G. 29 IBUs
10/09/2012 Racked Raspberry Sour portion, 3 gallons onto 3 lbs. of Raspberries and 1 gallon onto 1 lb of Sour Cherries as well as WLP 655 Belgian Sour Mix 1