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Old 09-19-2012, 07:24 PM   #1
Halbrust
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Default Just tried my first saison

It was a un(der)-carbonated home brew from a friend. He brought a bottle to our club meeting last night knowing it wasn't carbonated because it was just bottled Saturday.

I have a banana short mead and a banana wine brewed with saison yeast in secondary. But I didn't know what a saison was when I chose that yeast. Since then I've read about the funk and horse blanket tastes here on HBT. I was scared! Scared of how my drinks will turn out, and scared to try his brew.

I liked it. I can really see why people say horse blanket, but that was a nice characteristic. I'm looking forward to trying it again once it's fully carbed, and then to trying comercial examples as well.

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Old 09-21-2012, 03:25 PM   #2
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Saisons don't usually have much "Horse". They can be described as "funky", but that's not a very descriptive description. The funk is usually looked for due to the strain of yeast and fermentation temps. Also people put lots of things in saisons to make them fruity or spicy and that's ok, but a lot of people also say that you should get that only from the yeast and temperature.

Horse is generally associated with Brettanomyces, which might happen to get into a Saison fermented in the open, but usually a Saison yeast strain is just fruity, and/or spicy. The wheat malt helps with this.

Saison has a BJCP listing, yet historically it was brewed by farms using whatever they had on hand and without fermentation or any good place to keep the fermentation cool, the beer had a stronger funk than most people at the time were used to in other areas. Herbs and spices may have been put in, but there is no good record of that being common at all.

If you liked the homebrew Saison, I urge you to try a few commercial examples, like New Holland's Golden Cap or Saison DuPont. There are several others that I cannot recall at this time that I've had that were good.

The tricky part of brewing a Saison is managing the yeast during fermentation. The head brewer at New Holland emailed me with some recommendations and according to him you should ferment warm, like above 80 and up to 90 or more. Saison yeast strains are notorious for going gangbusters at the start and then dying off and seeming to quit before they are fully attenuated. Some people rouse the yeast to help get it going again or add a second strain to help finish it off. Otherwise it can take a few more weeks.

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Old 09-21-2012, 03:42 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Homercidal View Post
Saison yeast strains are notorious for going gangbusters at the start and then dying off and seeming to quit before they are fully attenuated. Some people rouse the yeast to help get it going again or add a second strain to help finish it off. Otherwise it can take a few more weeks.
That's more true for the dupont strain than any other. 3711 will always fully attenuate and then try to leave the fermenter to eat any other sugar it can find in your house. It is a very hungry strain.
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Old 09-21-2012, 04:39 PM   #4
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I used a White Labs Saison strain and it was pretty finicky after a few days. Not sure if that is the DuPont strain or not. I hear they have a newer strain that I think is a blend that has reportedly worked well. I haven't used it.

The Email from New Holland guy also indicated adding a bit of sugar and mashing very low to make the beer as dry as possible. Their recipe used Spelt, but he would not give me the name of their source and suggested that wheat would be an appropriate substitution for homebrew.

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Old 09-21-2012, 09:30 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Homercidal View Post
I used a White Labs Saison strain and it was pretty finicky after a few days. Not sure if that is the DuPont strain or not. I hear they have a newer strain that I think is a blend that has reportedly worked well. I haven't used it.

The Email from New Holland guy also indicated adding a bit of sugar and mashing very low to make the beer as dry as possible. Their recipe used Spelt, but he would not give me the name of their source and suggested that wheat would be an appropriate substitution for homebrew.
I used White Labs Saison II for the mash soured one I did and it fermented like a champ. Finished down at 1.004! Turned out to be a great beer too.
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Old 09-21-2012, 10:00 PM   #6
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I use WLP568 all the time. It's White Lab's Saison Yeast Blend. Per White Labs:

Quote:
WLP568 Belgian Style Saison Ale Yeast Blend
This blend melds Belgian style ale and saison strains. The strains work in harmony to create complex, fruity aromas and flavors. The blend of yeast strains encourages complete fermentation in a timely manner. Phenolic, spicy, earthy, and clove like flavors are also created.
Attenuation: 70-80%
Flocculation: Medium
Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 70-80°F
Alcohol Tolerance: Medium
I ferment at 68 or 70 and I have had great results. I never rouse, never raise the temperature, never finish with a different yeast (it is a blend, after all). And, the best part, it always ferments out for me. I've seen it finish between 1.002 and 1.008 across several (probably ten or more) saisons. I also have a used wine barrel filled with saison that was fermented with 568. I highly recommend it.
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Old 09-21-2012, 11:04 PM   #7
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I've had great results adding the sugar (boiled in water and cooled) after about a week and a half. It seems to spur the DuPont stain back into action.

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