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Old 02-07-2012, 03:17 PM   #1
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Default Wild Saison

First post here but I've been lurking in the shadows for a while!

Ok, so I'd like to produce a wild funky Saison and I've got at my disposal;

-The use of a commercial brewery on weekends
-A barrel room with a few fresh full size (225 litre Bordeaux and 227 litre Burgundy French red wine barrels)

Basically a homebrewers wet dream come true...

I used to be a pro brewer in the UK but I only really brewed Pills, Lager and mostly traditional Cask Ale. However I've always wanted to do a wild and funky Saison and I was wondering what the best plan of action would be? I've been reading Farmhouse Ales and Wild Brews to get some background info.

My first thought was to make a Dupont Vielle clone but instead of adding a Dupont yeast culture I would add Roeselare to the primary. However I've been reading that this will take a good 18 months to develop.

My second thought was to make a Dupont clone with the Dupont yeast but pitch in some Roeselare before the beer fully attenuates? This would make a less sour beer but the time in the barrel would be dramatically reduced depending on what gravity the Roeselare is added?

The third option was again a Dupont clone with the Dupont yeast added to the barrel. Let that fully ferment then rack to another barrel with 133 pounds of fresh raspberries in it. Then pitch in the Roeselare and let the yeasts do the nasty with the sugar from the fruit. This would take a few months to complete.

Further additional info. These barrels have held wine in them previously and will already have traces of wild yeast due to also holding Girardin lambic. I recently blended a blackberry fruit lambic with their help.

So if you were in my shoes what do you think of each method? What would you do with these resources to make a wild Saison?

Currently I'm swaying to option 3...


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Old 02-09-2012, 04:04 AM   #2
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Welcome Al!

First off, having weekend access to a commercial brewery that will not only let you brew on their equipment, but use their barrels for sour experiments is beyond incredible. I'm more than jealous.

There is a lot of personal preference here as Saison has such a wide range of characteristics; what flavor profile are you looking for in your wild Saison?

I noticed that all 3 of your options mention Roselare. That Roselare blend has Brett, Lactobacillus and Pediococcus so it'll yield alot of sour, a Lambic or Flanders-type sour and, as you mentioned, will require much longer aging (1-3 years to taste).

Personally, for a funky/wild Saison, I'd brew a basic base saison recipe and use Dupont yeast and Brett B, Brett C, or both. I think it would be really interesting to do a non-barrel version and a version in the barrel.

Are you filling an entire 225L barrel on your own?


Aging: Sour Solera, Flemish Gold, Repas du Matin Sour Table Beer, Flanders Red, Anejo Rum Sour, Brett Brown, Sour blonde, Funky Barleywine Barrel, Sour Rye Whiskey Barrel
Bottled: Cherry Oud Bruin, Le Batard Solera, Sour Stout, Wild Ale, Brett Belgian Rye Stout, Berliner Weisse, FlandersPale, Brett Old Ale, Funky Fig Saison, Mango BGSA, Rapture RIS, Brett Saison
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Old 02-09-2012, 05:36 AM   #3
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Depends on what flavors you want. Using any of those barrels that had lambic, unless they have been sterilized, will produce a sour saison. If it has good lambic culture you may not need to add roeselare. Personally I would let the lambic culture do its thing and do a primary fermentation with the saison strain of your choice. With the lambic culture in there you should expect to let it go at least a year to stabilize but probably longer for better flavor development.
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Old 02-09-2012, 01:30 PM   #4
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Okay I have some first hand experience using a mixed culture with a saison. I'm actually bottling one today/tomorrow or sometime next week. I brewed it up in Oct/November and let it go till now adding heat via a brew belt here and there. Of course you won't have that option with it being in a barrel, but if you stick it somewhere warmish it won't take a full year. Trust me. Mine went from 1.052 to 1.002. Pediococcus viscosity was around for 2.5 months of the ferment. I used East Coast Yeast Bug County (ECY20). It powered through my beer in no time at all.

The grist was:
Pils 62%
Vienna 7%
Spelt 27%
Acid Malt 3.5% (for pH adjustment)

I used Stryian Golding, and French Stisselspalt hops for 25ibus. I mashed at 148 for 30-45min then pulled a decoction and went up to 160. Let that sit for 15 min, then I started running into the kettle. No mash out for me on Belgians. This mash gives me good fermentability and some more complex sugars for the brett to ferment.

Rosalare could take 18 months (never used it but I have some to use soon), but other cultures may be quicker. You have to remember that the professional breweries that make sours mash for starches and unfermentable sugars in lambics and flanders ales. So making a saison and mashing it like you would a saison would make for a fairly quick ferment even with a mixed culture. Just watch your gravity. The closer to 70 you keep it, the quicker it finishes. It's not like you're turbid mashing this thing and sparging with high temp water. A "normal" mash looking for full conversion will make for a fairly quick beer at low is mash temps. Remember Russian River's Santification is a brett and and bacteria beer that's done in two months or so. If you mash for fermentability and add a mixed culture it might take 4-5 months.

To any naysayers. Sure I have 2 gravity points left in my beer. I am just going to count that towards my carbonation. That is about 1 vol worth of CO2 which I will count for .5vol as contribution to my beer's carbonation. To make the long post short. You can do it in less than a year depending on the ambient temp of where your barrel will be sitting.
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Old 02-10-2012, 11:24 PM   #5
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i pitched WLP566, WLP655 and fantome bottle dregs (566 got a 2 day head start) into my house saison, which went from 1.057 to 0.997 in six months (at which point in time i bottled/kegged). the final product has complex funk, tropical fruit aromas, and complementary (but not overwhelming) sourness.

that being said, i would go with the dupont yeast first and underpitch some brett or a brett/lacto/pedio blend a couple of days later, then wait six months. the lambic bugs in the barrel will be the icing on the cake. i would personally avoid adding fruit, at least the first time around (so you can get an idea as to whether the fruit would complement your finished product).
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Old 02-10-2012, 11:53 PM   #6
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If we are all throwing out opinions I'll try.

I prefer my wild Saisons with funk, not sour. But in contrast, some of the more sour Fantomes are among my favorites. It just depends on what you want 225 liters worth.

I am from the homebrewer camp that loves variety. And the nice thing with Saisons is that they dry out so quickly and have high carbonation. So this means you can get them into the bottle (thick ones) relatively quickly. And you can add Brett at bottling. The nice part about adding Brett at bottling is that you can make a huge range of beers with different strains of Brett and you don't need fermentor space. (Commercial Brett or from Bottle dregs will work)

So if I were you I would make a nice batch of Saison in the barrel with the Dupont strain. And if it doesn't dry out enough (1.000 - 1.002), then I'd add 3711 to finish the job. And then you can transfer that main batch into smaller 5 gals with each a different strain of Brett. (Think of the fun side by side tasting)

Next, I would fill that barrel up with a Flander's Red base and your Roeselare technique because that style of beer can really benefit from being aged in a barrel.

Any way you go, you can't lose (well unless you get acetobacter)

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