Saison Yeast Strains

I am preparing for this summer’s Saison throwdown. Even though the style is one of the least clearly defined in terms of grain bill, color, alcohol content, etc., the yeast is the one ingredient that makes the saison unique.

Looking up saison yeast strains, I was happy to see there were many different choices for homebrewers to use.

A few summers ago, I wrote a yeast profile on one of the White Labs strains. It was one I used in my recipe and it performed well. It did not quit on me, seemed to handle the warm temperature without a problem, and produced a beer that did well in competition.

Now White Labs has three strains available. Their Saison I (WLP565) and Saison II (WLP566) yeasts are available all year round. Their Saison III (WLP585) strain is available in July – August according to their website.

Wyeast has two strains. One is their Belgian Saison strain (3724) and the other one is their French Saison strain (3711).

Danstar has a dry Saison strain. If you are so inclined, their Belle Saison Yeast may be one for you to try.

The big issue with Saison yeast is the habit of the Dupont strain (WLP565 and Wyeast 3724) to get stuck during fermentation. The yeast activity halts and the gravity is no where near the target final gravity. Many homebrewers report that waiting a few more weeks and/or raising the temperature of the carboy will get your beer to ferment completely. Some other homebrewers claim that have to add another clean yeast strain, like WLP001 to ferment the beer completely.

I didn’t have a problem with the White Labs I strain when I used it, but I think since there was such a large issue with the Dupont strain the main beer yeast providers introduces alternative Saison stains.

With a good amount of healthy yeast, well oxygenated wort, and warm temperatures, I think you should be ok to use any of these Saison strains without having to follow emergency procedures.

What is your experience with these Saison strains? Do you have any tips to share?