Spring Saisons

Flower Saison 02This post will detail two recent saisons that we brewed for and/or during spring here in the PNW.  The first is a version of our pink peppercorn saison that we added wisteria and lilac flowers to and heavily hopped with Chinook (we had a bunch laying around and had to use them up).  The second is a fir tip table saison we brewed using fir tips Gregory foraged in Leavenworth, WA.

I’ve wanted to use lilac in a beer for a while now and figured it would marry well with the floral peppercorns and Chinook’s earthy-spicy notes.  While Nate, a longtime friend of mine, was visiting I brought this up to him and he recalled that he had success using wisteria in a saison.  In West Seattle both lilac and wisteria grow abundantly and were available early as we’ve had a very warm season, so I decided to use them both.

FlowersGregory and I wanted to experiment with ester and phenol production as they relate to fermentation temperature with our go-to saison yeast — we usually use the brewbelt with Wyeast’s French Saison strain, which sometimes produces more bubblegum/banana notes than we desire — so we opted to let the yeast “free-rise.”  We used the same grain bill as our previously brewed pink peppercorn petite saison, but got better mash efficiency and attenuation so we ended up with a higher ABV and a drier beer.  The absence of the brewbelt almost eliminated the esters/phenols associated with saisons, resulting in a beer that is more akin to a pale ale than a saison.

For the fir tip table saison, we wanted something very light, dry, and easy-drinking.  We simplified both the grain bill and the hop additions, using classic European hop varietals.  Knowing we usually get better efficiency/attenuation than what Brewtoad calculates for session beers, we crafted a recipe that they determined would only be about 2.9% ABV to arrive at our desired 3.5% ABV.  We used White Labs’ Belgian Style Saison Blend and used the brewbelt for a shorter amount of time than we normally do (3 days as opposed to a week) to continue experimenting with ester/phenol production.  We added the fir tips from Leavenworth twice in the boil.

Read on for recipes, processes, tasting notes, and additional photos:

Kitchen Sink Saison With Pink Peppercorn, Lilac, & Wisteria

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 5.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 8.00
Anticipated OG: 1.039
Anticipated SRM: 2.0
Anticipated IBU: 33
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Grain

50.00% — 4.00 Lbs. Pilsner (BE)
25.00% — 2.00 Lbs. Vienna
12.50% — 1.00 Lbs. Flaked Oats
12.50% — 1.00 Lbs. Wheat

Hops

0.30 oz. Magnum (Pellet, 13.0% AA) @ 60 min.
0.50 oz. Chinook (Pellet, 12.0% AA) @ 10 min.
0.50 oz. Horizon (Pellet, 12.0% AA) @ 10 min.
2.00 oz. Chinook (Pellet, 12.0% AA) @ 01 min.
0.80 oz. Saaz (Pellet, 3.2% AA) @ 0 min.
2.00 oz. Chinook (Pellet, 12.0% AA) @ 4 days (dry hop)
2.00 oz. Chinook (Pellet, 12.0% AA) @ 7 days (dry hop)

Extras

1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 10 min.
1.00 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
7.0g Pink Peppercorns (ground) @ 5 min.
1.60 oz. Fresh Lilac Flowers @ 5 days (in keg)
3.15 oz. Fresh Wisteria Flowers @ 5 days (in keg)

Yeast

Wyeast 3711 — French Saison

Water Profile

Seattle
1.00 g Calcium Chloride
1.50g Gypsum

Mash Schedule

Single infusion – 60 min @ 155F
Mash out — 10 min @ 172F

Notes

03.31.16 — Made a starter of French Saison

Brewed on 04.12.16 with Gregory

04.12.16 — Chilled wort to 77F & pitched the yeast

04.14.16 — Vigorous fermentation activity

04.16.16 — Added half of the dry hops to primary as fermentation slows

04.20.16 — Transferred to secondary and added remaining dry hop additions

04.27.16 — Split the batch and bottled two gallons with 2 oz. corn sugar for 2.6 volumes CO2, and kegged the remaining three gallons, adding the flowers in the keg for 5 days before removing them.

Flower Saison 01Tasting Notes — 06.08.16 (poured off tap)

Yellow-straw color and clear with a large fluffy white head stand that dissipates slowly and laces thick.  Big floral notes and a hint of peppercorn on the nose.  Hardly any saison esters/phenols detected.  Body is very dry and crisp with the herbal, grassy and spicy notes of Chinook dominating the palate.  Finishes with vivid and lingering earthy bitterness, and some peppercorn spice.

 

Calculated OG: 1.045
Calculated FG: 1.002
Approx. ABV: 5.6%

Fir Tip Table Saison

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 5.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 6.00
Anticipated OG: 1.030
Anticipated SRM: 1.0
Anticipated IBU: 22
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Grain

66.67% — 4.00 Lbs. Pilsner (BE)
16.67% — 1.00 Lbs. Flaked Oats
16.67% — 1.00 Lbs. Wheat

Hops

0.75 oz. East Kent Goldings (Pellet, 5.7% AA) @ 60 min.
1.00 oz. East Kent Goldings (Pellet, 5.7% AA) @ 5 min.
1.00 oz. East Kent Goldings (Pellet, 5.7% AA) @ 1 min.

Extras

1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 10 min.
1.00 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
1.80 oz. Fir Tips @ 5 min.
1.80 oz. Fir Tips @ 1 min.

Yeast

White Labs WLP568 — Belgian Style Saison Yeast Blend

Water Profile

Seattle
1.00 g Calcium Chloride
1.50g Gypsum

Mash Schedule

Single infusion – 70 min @ 154F
Mash out — 10 min @ 172F

Notes

Brewed on 05.12.16 with Gregory

05.12.16 — Chilled wort to 70F, pitched the yeast & put onto brewbelt

05.14.16 — Vigorous fermentation activity

05.15.16 — Removed brewbelt

05.22.16 — After 10 day primary, kegged the batch and began force carbonating

Fir Tip Table SaisonTasting Notes — 06.08.16 (poured off tap)

Pale-straw color with large fluffy white head stand that dissipates quickly and laces medium.  Light grainy pils malt and a hint of bubblegum on the nose.  Citrus and pine form the fir is mellow but center stage on the palate.  Light and creamy mouthfeel with a round and smooth bitter flourish on the dry finish.

Calculated OG: 1.030
Calculated FG: 1.004
Approx. ABV: 3.4%

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Saison Achillea — Gruitbier inspired saison

Yarrow LifeGregory and I brewed this saison back in June 2015 and we ended up bottling a few gallons and kegging the rest.  Though we thoroughly enjoy hoppy beers, we also love brewing experimental hop-less brews that take their inspiration from historical beer styles and bygone brewing techniques.

The name Saison Achillea is a reference to the binomial name of the flowering plant widely known as common yarrow, Achillea Millefolium.  We used foraged yarrow as well as a small amount of foraged local lavender (another plant traditionally found in gruit) in the production of this beer and pitched our go to saison yeast, Wyeast 3711 French Saison.

Yarrow & LavenderYarrow has a varied history and mythology, including being revered as a healing herb and magical plant in ancient Greece.  In China, the I-Ching is traditionally cast with yarrow stalks which represent the Yin and Yang forces of the universe.  In Native America, yarrow was used as a medicinal herb by tribes across the continent.  In beer, yarrow imparts a sweet floral fragrance but acts as a bittering component and imparts tartness on the palate.  I consider this a sour beer, although we didn’t pitch any bacteria; all the tartness comes from the yarrow.

Check out our recipe and complete tasting notes below:

Saison Achillea

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 5.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 12.25
Anticipated OG: 1.059
Anticipated SRM: 9.0
Anticipated IBU: N/A
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Grain

81.63% — 10.00 Lbs. Vienna
08.16% — 1.00 Lbs. Wheat Malt
06.12% — 0.75 Lbs. Caravienna
04.08% — 0.50 Lbs. Crystal 40L

Hops

N/A

Extras

6.00 oz. Yarrow @ 60 min.
4.00 oz. Yarrow @ 5 min.
0.50 oz. Lavender @ 5 min.
0.50 oz. Lavender @ 0 min.
0.75 oz. Yarrow @ 0 min.
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 10 min.

Yeast

Wyeast 3711 French Saison

Water Profile

Seattle
1.00 g Calcium Chloride
1.50 g Gypsum

Mash Schedule

Single Infusion – 90 min @ 150F

Notes

06.08.15 — Made a 1L starter with 1 Wyeast 3711 French Saison smack pack.  Brewtoad suggests 224 billion cells to ferment 5.5 gal.  Cold crashed and decanted morning of brew day.

Brewed on 06.10.15 with Gregory

06.10.15 — Chilled wort to 70F and pitched the French Saison yeast

06.12.15 — Signs of vigorous fermentation activity

06.20.15 — Transferred two gallons into bottling bucket after 10 day primary fermentation

06.22.15 — Kegged the rest of the beer and began force carbonating

Tasting Notes — 11. 01.15 (poured from bottle)

This beer is quite clear now that it has had time to bottle condition for over four months.  The aroma is floral and herbal-sweet like tea with a hint of lavender.  Surprisingly, there’s not much in the way of spicy saison yeast phenolics or fruity esters (though I don’t recall if we utilized the brewbelt this time around).  The yarrow dominates the palate, starting as an herbal, sweeter ginger-like note before it melds into the malt backbone which is reminiscent of wild honey.  There is a hint of lavender sweetness before the yarrow returns to dry out the finish with some balancing astringency and acidic tartness that pierces the sides of the tongue and lingers on.

Calculated OG: 1.059
Calculated FG: 1.006
Approx. ABV: 6.9%