Sunday, June 29, 2008

Saison brew day

I became interested in the Saison style recently when investigating summer style beers. Saisons ferment at a high temperature (80-85F), so its a perfect time of year to brew one. Here's some Saison history:
Saison is a French word for season, because it was originally brewed in the winter, and enjoyed throughout the summer months. The name was given to the style in Wallonia, which is the French-speaking region of Belgium. They are considered to be a farmhouse ale because it was originaly brewed in farmhouses for farm workers who drank up to 5 liters a day (that's over a gallon!) during harvest work days. Back in the day, this style was less than 3% abv.
At one time, Saison was described as an endangered style, but in recent years has made a come back. Modern day Saison is a complex style with a fruit aroma, earthy yeast tones, mild to moderate tartness. Some Saison styles have been described to have light an orange, coriander and peppery taste to them. The modern day Saison ranges from 5-8% abv.

The recipe I used is mostly from the book "Brewing Classic Styles." I used different and less hops than suggested.

DRB Saison:

21 lbs. Pilsner
1.5 lbs. Belgian Wheat
1.5 lbs. Munich
2 lbs. Corn Sugar
2 oz. Hallertau G. Tradition (6.2%AA)
1 oz. Hallertau Select (1.5%AA)
Yeast: 565 White Labs Belgian Saison Ale (starter made a couple days in advance)
Mashed for 90 mins. at 148F. Sparged at around 160F. Pre-boil gravity was 1.055. Original gravity ended up at 1.074. Fermentation started last night.

The brew went good. I started at around 6 a.m. and finished up (cleaning and everything) around 2 p.m. I can't really see how I could reduce the time any, especially since this beer took a bit longer than normal. It rained a bit during the brew too, but luckily I was partially under the garage so everything stayed dry. Later in the boil, I enjoyed a Le Merle Saison from North Coast Brewing Co. This has been my favorite Saison style yet, high carbonation very light and refreshing. I can only hope mine turns out this good!
I moved the fermenters to the second floor of my house, where it's warmer. I almost was going to move them to the attic, but I'm going to monitor the temps up there for now, the attic might be too warm. I seem to remember fermenting one of my first beers last year, and worrying about the 80 degree temps.. so it shouldn't be a problem reaching that temp upstairs. I plan to bottle 5 gallons of this, which was my plan for the cream ale, but it was just so darn good, I ended up kegging the second 5 gallons. We'll see how this one goes. I want to brew a 5 gallon all-grain batch sometime soon, so the DRB kegs are full, but I'm not sure what to make... I'm thinking of making another wheat style, and re-using some of the yeast from the Saison. Anyhow, that's the latest from the DRB! Here's a slide show of the Saison brew day.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Beats The Heat Cream Ale

Well folks, I did it. I can honestly say, that my first all-grain beer has turned out awesome. We all sat on the porch yesterday afternoon and had a few pints of it. Man it's good. I completely forgot to take a final gravity reading, so I can't tell you the abv's - I have another 5 gallons that I'll test later on. I think I'm going to bottle the other half of it. It's a very light tasting beer with mild hop taste. A perfect summer brew that I'll for sure do again someday.