Saison Time
Home Brewing Recipes
Baker Street Ales Associate Brewer
Arny Lands
Beer Nexus
the crossroads of the beer world
A friend of mine recently asked me what was the style of beer I was drinking.  I
said "saison"  He replied "son", but what style is it?" I again said "saison" and he
again said "son".   A few more exchanges and we both apologized to the spirits
of Abbott and Costello.  I don't think their "Who's On First" routine has anything to
worry about.  Still it gave me the idea to offer you a recipe for making a saison.   
It's a fruity, spicy, and most refreshing ale that's just perfect for hot summer
weather.  Don't worry, I'll go through it step by step. Give it a try.

pounds, 15.8 ounces crushed German pilsner malt
4 pounds, 15.4 ounces crushed North American
two-row pale malt
1 pound, 14.6 ounces crushed wheat malt
10.2 ounces flaked rye
About 9 gallons plus 4 cups water
0.58 ounce Centennial hops (9.8% alpha acid)
1/2 teaspoon Irish moss
2.58 ounces Amarillo hops (8.5% alpha acid)
0.24 ounce fresh parsley
0.09 ounce fresh rosemary
0.09 ounce fresh lemon thyme
0.04 ounce fresh white sage

1 (125 ml) package Wyeast Labs WY3711 French Saison Yeast
0.77 ounce Citra hops (11.0% alpha acid)

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons light dried malt extract

In a 10-gallon brew kettle, combine the crushed malts and
flaked rye with 4 gallons of 163°F water.
The water should cool slightly when mixed with the grain.
Cover and hold the mash at 149°F for 2 hours.

Lautering and Sparging
After mashing is complete, transfer the mash to the lauter tun to separate the
liquid (the wort) from the grains. Run a length of vinyl tubing from the lauter tun to
the brew kettle. Let the first few quarts of liquid run through. It will be cloudy and
contain some undesirable particulates. Once the liquid coming through is clear,
stop the flow and pour the cloudy liquid back into the lauter tun, where the husks
from the crushed grain will act as a natural filter and help remove the sediment.

Allow the remainder of the wort to drain into the brew kettle at a slow, steady
rate, restricting the flow with a plastic crimp on the tube. Once the liquid is lower
than the level of the grain bed, begin the sparge by slowly sprinkling 5 gallons
plus 1 cup of 168°F water over the grains.

The sparge water, which should never exceed 170°F, is added to the grain and
allowed to drain off at a slow rate (regulated by the plastic crimp), extracting the
remaining sugars and maximizing yield. This is not a step to be rushed; be
prepared to spend at least an hour on lautering and sparging. Once the last of the
sparge water has filtered through the grains and the flow from the lauter tun
stops, you’re ready to begin the boil.

The Boil
Add water to bring the wort level up to about 6 gallons.  Bring the wort to a rapid,
rolling boil.  Remove any scum on the surface.  Once the wort is at a full boil, put
a hops bag containing the Centennial hops in the kettle  for 90 minutes. Stir the
wort frequently.  At 15 minutes before the end of the boil, stir in the Irish moss.
When the boiling time is over, turn off the heat and put a hops bag containing the
Amarillo hops, parsley, rosemary, lemon thyme, and white sage in the kettle.
Cover the kettle and immediately begin cooling the wort quickly. Place the brew
kettle in a large sink, bathtub, or cooler partially filled with ice water- goal is 70F

Pitching the Yeast and Fermentation
Discard the spent hops and herbs and check the specific gravity of the wort with
a hydrometer. The target starting gravity is 1.059 (14.5 Plato).
The yeast should be removed from the refrigerator about 2 hours before using.
Slowly pour the cooled wort into a sanitized primary fermentation bucket. Stir
vigorously.  Shake the container of yeast, add it directly to the wort, and stir
vigorously to combine. Cover the bucket with the lid; keep it at 70F.  Signs of
primary fermentation should be evident after about 6 to 12 hours. Let the wort
ferment until the bubbles coming from the airlock have slowed to a rate of about
one per minute. This can take anywhere from 4 days to over 1 week.
Once this occurs, it’s time to transfer the beer to a (sanitized) glass carboy
for secondary fermentation.  Be sure  to leave behind the sediment at the
bottom of the plastic fermenter

Dry Hopping
Put the Citra hops in a hops bag and place it in the carboy. Seal the carboy with
the drilled stopper and an airlock filled halfway with water and ferment at 70°F.
After 7 days, dry hopping is complete. Remove the hops bag and discard the
hops. Check the specific gravity of the beer. If it’s reached the target final gravity
of 1.007 (1.8 Plato), it’s ready to bottle.

Final tip-  yeast works best in an aerobic (oxygenated) environment.  I find that by
pouring my wort into the fermenter from a decent height sufficiently aerates it to
get the fermentation off to a flying start.

Please remember that the easiest way to ruin a batch of your beer is to infect it
through a lack of cleanliness.  You've worked hard so take the time to make sure
everything is clean and sterile.  When in doubt review my rules for sanitation that
appear in the column I did on
Belgium Tripels.  

Questions sent to me by readers
For Chris:  While most beers are done fermenting within one week there is no
way to be sure if your beer is ready to bottle unless you take a hydrometer
reading. If successive readings over a few days time show no change in the
specific gravity then it is time to bottle.

For Jack who had trouble with over carbonation:  You may have used too much
priming sugar or perhaps your beer was still fermenting when you bottled. If the
over-carbonation is accompanied by an off flavor and/or a ring in the bottle at the
fill line the problem is probably due to infection.

That's it from me.  Hope you brew a great Saison!

Good Brewing and Cheers!
Arny Lands
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