A few weeks ago I ended my long hiatus in brewing with a rebrew of the saison that I made for my wedding last year. That brew was a bit of a mess, I didn’t have a hydrometer flask so I couldn’t take any gravity readings, volume measurement was questionable, temperature measurement was also questionable, and to top it off I drank more than the recommended amount of “inspiration.” That being said everything turned out well!
I’m happy with the beer. I took it to a homebrew meeting and a lot of people there liked it as well. When I took it (besides being under carbonated) it was about 1.010 SG. One of my friends from the guild said that the yeast will bring it down into the low single digits if handled properly. That motivated me to take the carboys for a walk and let them keep fermenting. Yesterday I kegged that beer and measured the gravity at 1.005! I’m amazed at how low the yeast (Danstar – Belle Saison) got the gravity. Since I can only guess about the original gravity I’m estimating that this beer came out to 5.7%.
With that batch under my belt I felt the need to experiment with the saison style and yeast. I decided to brew a series of saisons and tweak the malt bill each time. For yesterday’s brew I decided to try and move the recipe more into the middle of the style guidelines. Where my original “Little Farmhouse” recipe was too light, too weak, and not very bitter my goal was to nudge those numbers closer to the middle of the range for the style. The plan is to brew 3 or 4 beers total and to move those numbers (color, alcohol, and IBU) higher with each iteration.
For this iteration I used Caramunich III (I wanted II but the shop only stocks III) to darken the beer to 8 SRM. This is mid-range for the saison style but it’s worlds darker than my original recipe. With the addition of Caramunich to the recipe I didn’t have to add much more malt to nudge the OG (alcohol) to where I wanted it. I didn’t add any more base malt to the recipe. I just increased the flavor and head malts to 2# and called it good. This brought the target OG to 1.055. Not a huge jump but it’s a start. As for the hops, I mostly kept them inline with what I did to the gravity. So I really didn’t do much. I was forced to make some quick substitutions however. I thought I had a large bag of Cascades in my freezer when I really had less than 2 oz. I ended up using some Halertau and Spalter Spalt (yum) remnants that I had. I’m afraid that the bitterness will be lower than I wanted because the hops were old and I accidently left some Hallertau pellets out of the boil. Oh well: relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew! I do feel really good about the brew session. I took excellent notes and everything (mostly) went how I wanted it to go.