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Old 06-11-2010, 12:40 AM   #1
Salanis
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Default My First Saison

So I've done several batches under the guidance of a brewmaster and done a couple brews all my own (from the local outlet's "kits"). I'm getting ready to try my hand at my favorite beer style: Saison. I know this is a varied and interesting style, and I hear *tons* of conflicting advice, so I have a couple things I'd like to get advice on.

The Fermenter
: Single fermenter or move it to a secondary? I know the normal debate and have had good luck with just a single fermenter. Problem is, I have a 6.5gal bucket and a 5gal "better bottle" carboy and neither of those will work on its own. I'm thinking a 6gal better bottle aught to have enough overflow space to deal with the liveliness of a Saison yeast.

The Malt: Okay conflicting stories about the malt. I show up at the homebrew outlet and the guy there is telling me Saison's are primarily wheat based. This doesn't seem right. I've heard of a number using wheat, but not as the primary fermentable. Getting a bunch of wheat extract seems a bit odd.

Partial mash or extract: I'd kind of like to try partial mash, but I keep hearing how if I do that, I need to get a false-bottom mash tun. I hear other things about just using bags. I know it's not "as good", but I used that when under direction of a brewmaster, and it seems like a lot of people have used that to good effect.


Any advice people can give would be great. Thanks in advance. I apologize if this is the wrong section of the board for this.



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Old 06-11-2010, 05:25 AM   #2
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The Fermenter
: Single fermenter. 6 gallon better bottle should work. I'd use a blowoff tube.

The Malt: Saisons are typically pilsner based. I like up to 10% wheat for complexity / head retention.

Partial mash or extract: Partial mash really isn't required as there are not a lot of crystal malts in a saison. You might do a small mash of pilsner + munich for some character.


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Old 06-11-2010, 08:37 AM   #3
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Salanis,

Just finished a Saison, the fermentation wasn't TOO crazy. I agree 100% with wonderbread. The 6 Gal fermenter will be fine, and you can always rig a blowoff preventer. I also use a small percentage of wheat, but it is definitely NOT a "wheaty" beer. Just use it to help get the crisp, dry finish you should be looking for. Finally, the partial mash would be fun to try if you have only done extract batches in the past. Brew in a Bag is also a great option to try out all-grain and see if the extra time/effort is worth it for you.

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Old 06-11-2010, 11:11 AM   #4
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Why will the 6.5gallon bucket not work?

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Old 06-11-2010, 02:48 PM   #5
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Nothing wrong in using a bucket for primary. I'd probably move to a secondary after 4-6 weeks, but it really depends on the yeast. If it finishes in that much time, why worry?

I have seen a very tasty commercial Saison have up to 25% wheat product. That is high end and not what I'd call a wheat-based beer.

I did not have a problem with my blowoff, but then I didn't ferment in the 90 degree + range that the brewer recommended. The extra headspace in the bucket may have helped. I think that if you keep the wheat down, you should be ok there.

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Old 06-11-2010, 04:00 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul_Aris View Post
Why will the 6.5gallon bucket not work?
The plastic is air permeable. It would work for a couple of days for primary, but not as a sole fermenting vessel. From the research I've done, I think there is more risk to my beer from re-racking than from letting it sit on the yeast. With a 6-gal carboy, I should be able to have a single fermenter.

I've got a 1/2" blow-off tube, not sure if I should pick up one of the larger diameter (1"?) tubes.


So after checking different recipes and descriptions, I'm leaning towards this for a recipe:

5# Light LME or 4.5# Light DME
5# Belgian Pils
2# 10L Crystal
1# Wheat

Then probably hop with Tettnanger or Hallertauer (for European, Spicy-ish, and Smooth):
1oz. each at 60, 15, and 5.
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Old 06-11-2010, 04:29 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Salanis View Post
The plastic is air permeable. It would work for a couple of days for primary, but not as a sole fermenting vessel.
While true that the plastic bucket is permeable to oxygen more so than a better bottle or glass vessel it still makes a fine fermentor. You would need to leave your beer in it for months before oxidation would be a noticeable problem.

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Old 06-11-2010, 04:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Salanis View Post
So after checking different recipes and descriptions, I'm leaning towards this for a recipe:

5# Light LME or 4.5# Light DME
5# Belgian Pils
2# 10L Crystal
1# Wheat

Then probably hop with Tettnanger or Hallertauer (for European, Spicy-ish, and Smooth):
1oz. each at 60, 15, and 5.
Way too much crystal. You could probably do with 0 crystal. Also, you might consider adding 1-2lbs of sugar to help it get dry, dry, dry.
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Old 06-11-2010, 04:43 PM   #9
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If you want a Saison, I'd listen to the Jamil Show's Episode on it. The recipe he gives just won me a gold medal with it.

http://thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/The-Jamil-Show/Saison-The-Jamil-Show-09-10-07

The secret to a great Saison is exactly what Beeerific just said: You want that sucker dry as you can get it. It has so much character that residual sweetness just makes it overbearing.

Fermentation is key - start in the 60's and ramp it up - over the course of one to two weeks, I got up to 85 degrees and held it there for about 2 additional weeks. Once it hit 85 I swirled the carboy twice a day to get the yeast going again.

Also, like Beerific said, you want to add sugar - but not until the main bulk of fermentation is done. If you add it too early, the yeast will give up eating the maltose and you won't be able to get dry - I think I added simple syrup two different times - once before I hit 85 and once after.

My entire ferment was done in a primary.

Hope this helps!

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Old 06-11-2010, 06:46 PM   #10
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If you can, try and get a hold of some pilsner extract. Light extract works, and I've used it before, but you really want a strong pilsner base for a saison, imo. And Beerific is right. Cut back on some of the crystal.



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