Saison ester fade?

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jswillbrewforbeer

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I've been perfecting, or at least attempting to perfect my Saison recipe for nearly 2 years now. Something I've started to notice is that a week or 2 after it's fully bottle conditioned, the esters seem to be much less prominent than when it was young. Also, when young, the phenols seem to be at a very low concentration but after a few weeks they far out-weigh the esters. I can see how esters can fade over time but a week or 2 seems pretty quick/disappointing. Anyone else experience this/find a solution? I have a Saison ready for competition in about 3 weeks and hopefully there will be some esters left =/
 

bierhaus15

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Yes, that is not uncommon. Often losses are due to esterase activity by the yeast and something like 40% of esters are vulnerable to ester hydrolysis. Most sacch and brett yeasts have this ability, although it is somewhat strain dependent. It mostly becomes an issue with Belgian beer and it is a dirty secret that many large producers get around it by flash pasteurizing prior to bottling with a neutral yeast.

However, that is not the only reason for loss of esters. Optimizing fermentation, yeast strain, wort nutrients, ect, also have a big impact, along with minimizing oxidation.
 

NobleNewt

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I fermented a blonde ale with US-05 warm (by mistake) a little while back. It was very estery and much more reminiscent of a Belgian-style beer than a clean American ale. I found that the esters mellowed over time, but never went away. May depend on what yeast you're using and what temperature you're fermenting.

I've had success in the past with gradually raising the temp of my saison to build ester profile during the course of primary fermentation. In the end, I find that I don't really care for esters in my beers no matter the style.
 

brownni5

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Which yeast strain? I've noticed quite different results - my saisons get much better at about 8 weeks post packaging and stay that way until they're gone (sometimes a year or 2 out). When fresh, I find my saisons are much too clean - very subtle esters and phenolics. Saison Parfait from Bootleg Biology is now my go-to. Big pear esters with time, slight phenolics.
 
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jswillbrewforbeer

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Most recently I used Wyeast 3726 but I noticed it with the previous batch as well which I fermented with Wyeast 3724. In those 2 batches I experimented by adding a glucoamylase enzyme to ensure 100% apparent attenuation, (for ensured dryness and to feel more confident bottling that I won't have bottle bombs.) I'm starting to think the enzyme is negatively affecting flavor by scrubbing out some of the fermentation character. What's your conditioning schedule like? (i.e. bottle/keg? temp., time etc.?) I'll have to try the Bootleg Biology strain!
 

brownni5

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I really want to start a thread on the boogie man that is the bottle bomb - I think most brewers are way too afraid of bottling under-attenuated beer because of problems someone had 15 years ago when we had bad kits. But I digress...

I rarely ever package before 3 weeks in primary, especially with saisons and their diastatic nature. I've only been kegging for about a year, and have only kegged one Saison in that time - most everything gets bottle conditioned simply because I think it gets better with time and I don't want to tie up a keg for that long. If I'm not too lazy, I'll package with champagne yeast according to Bob Sylvester's method on Milk the Funk Wiki, but it really isn't necessary I've found. I just bottled a Saison fermented with Saison Parfait that had a beautiful meringue-y head at 2 weeks in the bottle - nothing has ever carbed so well for me before. It had a bunch of dry hops, so I wanted to try it fresh, but I don't get a lot of yeast character from it just yet - just overwhelming Blanc and Motueka, which isn't a bad thing. I'm guessing more hops than normal helped out with the head. I always package my saisons in heavy bottles at 3.2 volumes or higher. I've gotten away with regular bottles at a calculated 3.0 volumes, but that might not be for everyone.

I've used Wyeast 3724 a few times and haven't gotten the yeast profile from it that I'd like, so I've switched to the Bootleg strain. At 3 weeks with some heat and a healthy pitch, I've never noticed a stall with the 3724, and with each strain I get 90% AA or better. No need for enzymes or other tricks.
 
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jswillbrewforbeer

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Sounds delicious! I also experimented with Champagne yeast and found it to be unnecessary. This last batch was fully carbed after 4 days. I decided to try the enzyme to ensure attenuation without having to ramp as high as everyone says is necessary, thus avoiding alcohol dominance and hastened oxidation. I fermented at 72F straight through, temp controlled no ramping just to see what would happen. I tried another of my Saisons last night after a Budweiser, (don't ask,) and the esters are definitely there, just not face clobbering.
 
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