Since I have been reading more about the style and the history of the beer, I thought I would post this Saison recipe. Bière de saison looks to be the original homebrewer’s beer. It is a style that comes from the beers farmers would brew in the French speaking part of Belgium known as Wallonia.
Because the beers were brewed by different farmers, the style is hard to characterize. I think that’s great. It gives us more freedom to create interesting beers.
Brew Your Own’s Saison Guidelines
BYO had a great article on the style by Horst Dornbusch, which I read and drew up this recipe based on his thoughts and techniques that he presented in the magazine.
The big tip that I got out of it was that spices could be added to this beer, but Horst’s thoughts were to try to get a good Saison spicy flavor from the yeast and the hops. I am going to follow his lead.
Fermentation will definitely be on the warmer side, probably in the 75 degree range. After primary, I will let it condition for a few months and pop one open in late spring/early summer.
Ingredients For The Saison Recipe
10 lbs. Belgian Pilsner Malt
12 oz. German Munich Malt
2 oz. Belgian Special B Malt
6 oz. Belgian Aromatic Malt
10 oz Belgian Wheat Malt
1.0 oz. Sterling Pellets at 7.50% AA – boiled at 60 minutes
0.50 oz. Saaz Pellets, 5.00% AA – boiled at 15 minutes
Yeast – White Labs WLP565 Belgian Saison I
Original Gravity: 1.058
Terminal Gravity: 1.011
Color: 11.21° SRM
Bitterness: 35.0 IBU
Alcohol % of volume: 6.2%
Thoughts On The Finished Beer
I think the main flavors you want to get out of this brew is spiciness from the hops and the yeast mixed with a tartness that is also coming from the yeast. Interesting note about the tartness, one of the most common statements I get from people who drink this beer is “I can’t believe there is no lemon in this beer.” after I answer their questions about the ingredients. With the high fermentation temperatures, you do get some nice spicy and sour flavors blending with each other.
I have brewed this recipe a few times and have made slight modifications with each session. There are many different saison yeast strains available now so most of my experimentation has been with using different ones. I still like the WLP565 one the best. As long as you can get your temperatures over 80° F, towards the end of the fermentation, you should be able to finish with the gravity that you are targeting with this or any recipe you put together.
Some say that this strain can stop working but I have never had that problem. Make a mighty starter before you brew and you should not have a problem with your beer.
One disclaimer, I have never received an award in a homebrew competition for any saison I have submitted. Although the guidelines for this style are wide open, if your saison does not taste like the a Saison Dupont clone, I don’t think you are going to get too far with judges. Just my two cents but that should not stop you from brewing an excellent version of this awesome beer style.