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Saison 2020 1.0

The finished beer
I've made only a few Saisons in the past.  In competition, they've not done all that well, I suppose because my taste in Saisons leans away from the overly dry, overly bitter end of the style toward something milder and more complex.  Today, I decided to review a bunch of winning Saison recipes and analyze what I thought made them winners... then build my own.

I liked the mix of Pilsner, Wheat, and Vienna I found in a BYO Magazine recipe.  I'd gotten complaints that one of my Saison recipes lacked malt complexity.  Another recipe referenced using cane sugar and a high mash temp to balance out the dryness from the cane sugar with some unfermentable sugars.  I wanted to mix Saaz, Citra, and Mandarina, but didn't have any Saaz on hand.  Last, but not least, I wanted a hint of spice and fruit.  That's where the coriander and grains of paradise come in.  Hopefully this will all play well with the Saison yeast.

Ingredients

4 pounds Briess Pilsner Malt
8 ounces Whiteswaen White Wheat Malt
8 ounces Briess Vienna Malt
8 ounces Cane Sugar
2.5 gallons of mash water, filtered
2.5 gallons of sparge water, filtered (if I brewed this again, I'd use 2 gallons)
1.5 ml of 88% lactic acid solution (mash)
0.15 ounces of Mandarina Bavaria hops pellets @ 9.2% AA (FWH 90 min.)
0.25 ounces of Citra hops pellets @ 13.0% AA (20 min.)
0.30 ounces of Mandarina Bavaria hope pellets @ 9.2% AA (5 min.)
2 grams crushed coriander seed
1 gram crushed seeds of paradise
1 package of Mad Fermentationist Saison yeast, raised up to 1L starter

Brewfather estimates the beer will have the following characteristics:
  • Batch Volume:  3.0 gallons estimated (3.5 actual, 0.5 dumped)
  • Original Gravity:  1.057 SG estimated (1.049 SG actual)
  • Pre-boil Gravity:  1.038 SG estimated (1.043 SG actual)
  • Final Gravity:  1.004 SG estimated
  • IBUs: 26
  • SRM: 2.4
  • ABV: 6.0% estimated, 6.3% actual
  • Fermenter:  Spock
  • Bottling Wand:  Stainless 2
  • Carbonation Method:  4-5 small carbonation tablets per bottle
Mash schedule:
  • Mash in at 113F (Ferulic Acid Rest) for 10 minutes
  • Mash at 120F for 25 minutes (Beta Glucan and Protein Rest)
  • Mash at 156F for 60 minutes
  • Mash out at 168F for 10 minutes
  • Sparge at 130F for as long as it takes...
Some of you might be wondering why I had a Ferulic Acid rest in here. That's because Belgian yeasts and similar types like Saison and Hefeweizen, can express their character better with some ferulic acid to work with.  Adding that rest, I should be able to get more Saison yeast character out of the batch.

Boil schedule:
  • 90 minutes:  0.15 ounces Mandarina Bavaria first wort hops (FWH)
  • 20 minutes:  0.25 ounces Citra hops
  • 5 minutes:  0.30 ounces Mandarina Bavaria, coriander, seeds of paradise
Fermentation plan:
  • Ferment at the yeast's midpoint range until complete
Notes and Observations

02/23/2020:  This brewing session was a lesson in preparing, tracking your inventory, and paying attention while you brew.  I got distracted when measuring my grain and dropped a half pound in the container instead of the 5 ounces I'd planned.  I had to correct that by increasing the overall grist to maintain the percentages of the malts, and increase the volume to compensate.  Then I found out that I didn't have Saaz hops like I thought I did (and had in my inventory), and compensated with Mandarina Bavaria.  And then almost forgot to include the sugar.  As if that wasn't enough, I ended up dropping the hops in at first wort before remembering that I was planning a 90-minute boil and was going to include the hops at 60 minutes.  So I think I goofed up in just about every way I could have, before the boil even started...

Post-boil volume was 3.5 gallons of chilled wort, about a half-gallon more than I wanted.  This led to an original gravity of 1.049 SG instead of the 1.057 SG that I'd intended.  Still, that figure (per Brewfather) represents a mash efficiency of 97% and a brew house efficiency of 81%.

The next question for me is whether the yeast I plan to use will come to life in the starter or not.  If not, I have a package of Danstar Belle Saison I can use, and I may receive another in a brewing supply shipment later this week.

02/25/2020:  The yeast seems to have taken off.  Gravity is down to 1.046 SG.

02/26/2020:  Gravity 1.042 SG, 62F.

02/28/2020:  Gravity 1.031 SG, 63F, and 2.5% ABV.

03/07/2020:  Gravity 1.003 SG, 6.1% ABV, and 62F.

03/15/2020:  Gravity 1.001 SG, 6.3% ABV.  Bottled using 5 small carbonation tablets per bottle.  A taste of the beer before bottling was impressive.  I'm hoping this holds through to the finished product.

03/23/2020:  I chilled and poured the first bottle of the beer last night.  It's got a nice pale gold color with thin white head.  The aroma is citrusy and mildly spicy.  The flavor starts with a nice malt and citrus note, drying out a little, and finishing with a citrus-peel-like bitterness.  I have to say, I think it's one of the best Saisons I've tasted.  I am very happy with how it turned out.

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