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Style of the Week: Belgian Saison!

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April 8, 2016 by fhsteinbart


Saison

Here we see a typical Saison ~ served in a proper Tulip Glass. Another good glass would be the Teku!

One of the most common, yet misunderstood beers is the style we now call Saison. The French word for season, this was a provisional beer brewed to a low degree of fermentation, with a great deal of body, it sustained the workers during the warmer months. Being a low alcohol beer from the start, somebody got the great idea of “let’s mess with the recipe and see what happens!” which led to several versions of the style. Today we recognize the provisional, export, and strong versions as the remnants of these earlier cataloged beers that collectively have been referred to as farmhouse styles, due to their predominance in country brewing. My favorite beer of the style is Saison Silly, which is an amber colored 5% ABV export version of this great style. Why there are so many varieties of these beers I believe comes from the huge number and diversity of beers brewed in Belgium. Below is a recipe of mine that also resides on the lazy susan turnstile in the grain room. While the use of spices is optional, I feel that they add another layer of complexity in the character of this style of beer.

 

Extract:

7 lbs. Extra Light LME

8 oz. Flaked Wheat

8 oz. Flaked Oats

8 oz. Vienna Malt

1 lb. Clear Candi Sugar

2 oz. Golding Hops (Bittering, Aroma)

1/4 oz. Orange Peel and/or 1/8oz. coriander

Wyeast 3724, WLP565, Imperial Napoleon or Rustic, Danstar Belle Saison

  • Heat 2½ quarts of water to 155°F
  • Place grains in a steeping bag and steep at 155°F to 165°F for 30 min. Remove grain.
  • Turn off heat and add water to volume, malt extract and Candi sugar, stirring until fully dissolved.
  • Return to heat, bring to boil for 5 min. then add 1 oz. bittering hops. (Golding, 60 min)
  • Add 1 oz. Aroma hops (Golding) and Whirlfloc tablet or Irish Moss with 10 minutes remaining.
  • At 5 minutes add the orange peel, and any other spices.
  • After boil has finished, turn off heat and cool wort by placing kettle in an ice bath or using a wort chiller.(0 min)
  • Add mixture to fermenter, removing hops, and bring total volume to 5 gallons using non-distilled bottled water or filtered tap water.
  • Aerate unfermented wort (shaking works well)
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 85° F until completed.

All Grain:

10 lbs Belgian Pale Malt

8 oz. Flaked Wheat

8 oz. Flaked Oats

8 oz. Vienna Malt

1 lb. Clear Candi Sugar

2 oz Golding Hops (Bittering, Aroma)

½ oz. Sweet Orange Peel

Wyeast 3724, WLP565, Imperial Napoleon or Rustic, Danstar Belle Saison

Mash grains with 16 quarts of water at 152°F for 1 hour. Bring to boil for 5 min. then add 1 oz. bittering hops (Golding, 60 min). Add 1 oz. Aroma hops and Whirlfloc tablet or Irish Moss with 10 min remaining. At 5 minutes add Sweet Orange Peel. At 0 minutes, cool wort and pitch yeast, fermenting at 85° F. Package up as usual; bottled versions should use 120 gms. corn sugar (approx. ¾ cup), or kegged to 22 psig, and allow two weeks to come into condition. Serve at 45°~50°F in a Tulip or modern Teku glass, share, and enjoy! This beer will continue to evolve and change over the coming months, so make enough to last you through your next brew.

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