Saison #3 — now with Brett!

Saison #3

I decided to continue my exploration of the Saison style, but this time, adding a touch o’funk.  Saisons are often innoculated/infected by brettanomyces, and the flavors they bring are considered appropriate for this style.  Orval probably best represents this, using brett to bottle condition their beers, it brings that earthy funkiness to the beer, without overpowering the rest of the flavors.  Fantome is also an excellent representation of this, but this beer has much more wildness going on.

As saisons tend to be very dry, fermented with highly attenuating yeast, they don’t leave too much food on which the slower brett can feast.  This tends to give you hints of the brett flavor, without overpowering the other ingredients.  Thus, I decided on this beer to not dryhop, as I wanted to see what the brett would do with the aroma.   To do this, I used , a strain of ECY that included their 3 strains from their Saison blend, but also includes a strain of Brett, I think from Fantome.  I wanted to get some floral/citrusy notes in this beer, as I knew I was going to be drinking most of it in August and September, when the weather is still bright and warm, and the flavors would be welcome and refreshing.  I have been playing with later hop additions and avoiding full boil hops recently, as I think it brings out the malt more, and smooths out the bitterness despite similar IBU’s.  I enjoy the citrusy notes of Centennial, so I decided to use those as the bittering hop, but at 30 minutes left in the boil.  To help boost the floral/spicy notes, I used Saaz and crystal to finish the beer, and I used honey to lighten the body, but add those floral notes to the beer.  Finally, I had some rye malt on hand, and thought the crispness of the rye would help with the overall impression of dryness with the beer, so the following recipe was born.  This was a 5.25 gal batch with was boiled 90 minutes.

8.00 lb       Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM)             Grain        64.00 %
1.00 lb       Rye Malt (4.7 SRM)                        Grain        8.00 %
0.50 lb       Caramel/Crystal Malt – 80L (80.0 SRM)     Grain        4.00 %
1.25 oz       Centennial — Farmhouse [10.10 %]  (30 minHops         30.2 IBU
1.00 oz       Crystal [4.30 %]  (10 min)                Hops         4.9 IBU
1.00 oz       Saaz Freshhops [3.80 %]  (1 min)          Hops         0.5 IBU
3.00 lb       Honey (1.0 SRM)                           Sugar        24.00 %
1 Pkgs        Farmhouse Brassiere with Brett (East CoastYeast-Ale

This was mashed at 152 for 60 minutes, single infusion.  I had a OG of 1.065, with a FG of 1.005, ABV of 7.7% with 35.6 IBU’s.  I only had 4.5 gallons going into the primary from the kettle, so I added .75 gallons of boiled water to the primary to dilute it to the OG above.  It went from OG to FG in less then 2 weeks, but I let it sit in primary for 1 month.  This was fermented at  76F using a Fermwrap and a Ranco controller for the first 2 weeks, then left to go to ambient (about 70F) afterwards.  It was bottled with 6.5 oz of corn sugar to shoot for 3.0 Vol of carbonation.

Taste:  pours a hazy orange, nicely carbonated.  The nose on beer has a lot going on.  It  has a spiciness from the hops combined with mango/citrus quality with a that moves more and more towards more of the “funky” grassy/horsey aroma of brettanomyces with some pepper at the back the longer it sits.  Tasting it, it has a crispness to the malt, I think from the rye, rounded out with some more tropical fruit and citrus notes with a nice bitterness and peppery bite at the end.  There is also some of the blue cheese funkiness in the back.  It is very dry, and very easy to drink.

Critique:  The funkiness of this beer is slowly coming out.   You definitely get some in the nose as it warms, and it is coming out more in the taste as well.  It has been fun to taste this, first out of the fermentor, and then into bottles and now.  The brett really develops as it ages.  I think in the future I may dry hop this a bit, or up the aroma hops.  I like the bitterness, and I wanted to not drown out the brett aroma with hops, but I am leaning toward a more hoppy saison on the nose as my preferred version.  I think the dry hop just blends wonderfully with the fruity aromas and taste of the yeast.   I am very eager to see what this tastes like in 6 months.

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