Around this time last year, we shared some tips and guidelines for brewing a saison. Well it’s that time of year again; I actually just enjoyed my second-to-last bottle of saison homebrew from last year, and it’s time to brew another one.
A few techniques and characteristics can help make your homebrewed saison a good one when using this saison beer recipe:
- Hard water – Mineral rich water can help your saison have a dry finish that’s typical of the style. Consider adding gypsum to your mash water.
- Simple sugar – Another way to achieve a dry finish is through the use of simple sugar adjuncts. Since the sugar will ferment almost completely your overall attenuation will be higher. Use about 1-1.5 pounds of adjunct sugar in your saison beer recipe.
- Adjunct grains – A small amount of adjunct grains like wheat or oats can help give your saison some body and head retention. These adjunct grains can be used in raw, rolled, or flaked form. I’ve had good results with as little as 1/4-lb. of oats or wheat.
- Get creative with herbs and spices – Orange peel and coriander are two of the most common flavor additives used when making a saison, but you can try anything from ginger to lavender to rose hips to chamomile. I find that the floral additions really work well in this kind of seasonal beer.
- Belgian yeast strain – There is a particular yeast character in saisons that can only be achieved by using a Belgian yeast strain. There are several saison-specific yeast strains, including the Danstar Belle Saison Yeast. Other Belgian ale yeasts such as Wyeast 3942: Belgian Wheat Beer Yeast may also be used. Don’t be afraid to let fermentation temperatures push the upper limits when making this saison beer recipe, as the aromatic esters and phenolics are desirable in saisons.
Ready to try a saison of your own? Try this all-grain recipe! (See bottom for an extract / partial mash option!)
Belgian Saison Beer Recipe
(all-grain, five-gallon batch)
9 lbs. Two-row malt
1 lb. Caramel 20L malt
4 oz. Flaked oats
1 lb. Brown sugar
1 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :60
.5 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :30
.25 oz. fresh crushed coriander seed at :20
.5 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :10
.25 oz. fresh crushed coriander seed at :10
1.5 tsp. yeast nutrient at :10
1.5 tsp. Irish moss at :10
1 oz. Kent Goldings hops dry hopped for 7 days
Lallemand’s Danstar Yeast: Belle Saison Ale (2L yeast starter recommended)
Directions: Mash crushed grains in moderately hard water at 148-150˚F for 60 minutes. Sparge to collect 7 gallons of wort. Mix in brown sugar and bring to a boil. Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops and additives according to recipe. Remove from heat, whirlpool, and cool wort. Pitch yeast at about 70˚F. Ferment at 70-75˚F. Add dry hops to the secondary fermenter. Bottle or keg for 2.5 vols CO2.
EXTRACT / PARTIAL-MASH OPTION: Replace the two-row malt with 6.6 lbs. of Extra Light liquid malt extract. Steep the caramel malt and flaked oats for 30 minutes in 2 qts. water at 150˚F. Strain wort into brew kettle and add the light liquid malt extract and enough water to make a 3.5-gallon boil. Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops and additives according to beer recipe. At the end of the boil, remove the kettle from heat and mix in the brown sugar. Whirlpool, chill wort, and adding enough cool, clean bottled water to make 5.5 gallons. Pitch yeast at about 70˚F. Ferment at 70-75˚F. Add dry hops to the secondary fermenter. Bottle or keg for 2.5 vols CO2.
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder and editor of the Local Beer Blog.