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?

Comments

  1. Ryan H. says:

    Albeit not totally pure, I have liked the results of culturing from the Logsdon Seizoen Bretta. It gets the FG down without crazy high temps or super long ferments. Being that it is my favorite saison beer on the market helps too. I understand it is not widely available but if you can get you hands on a bottle… Culture it. It makes a very expressive yeast profile without being gummy or like you are sucking on a wheat chaff soaked in Red Star slurry. Think lemon zested angel lips kissing a freshly rolled bale of hay. Mmmm.

  2. brewella deville says:

    I’ve used WLP565 twice now. No starter, 1 vial in a 2.5 gallon batch. The first time I used it I took the advice of my LHBS owner and kept the fermenting beer at 80F by wrapping it in an old down jacket. It stayed there for at least 10 days, then dropped on its own to about 76 by the time I bottled it after three weeks of fermentation. According to Hopville, the OG was an estimated 1.063 and FG should have been 1.019. I did measure actual FG, which was 1.006. For the first few days of fermentation, it smelled like a pack of Juicy Fruit, but by the time I bottled it that had cleaned up completely.

    The second time I used it, it hit 80, but I could only keep it there for about two days before it dropped to a steady 74F. I was too lazy to measure the gravity, but I did keep it in primary for 4 weeks to make up for the lower temp just to be safe. I didn’t get that Juicy Fruit smell with this one. Both beers turned out great, and had the same flavor despite the temp differences.

    So, based on my limited experience, I’d say pitch it at about 75F and keep it at 75-80 in primary for at least three weeks. Leave it alone and forget the secondary, it will clean itself up and clear up nicely. I think a lot of the talk about it stalling out may be due to simple impatience.

  3. Thanks brewella. Yeah, the final gravity of my saisons are always under 1.010 as well even if they are predicted to be a little over. It’s interesting that you didn’t encounter any fermentation lags but your temperature was over 70° F and maybe that is the cure.

  4. Hey Ryan H. Thanks for the tip and the description. I am sure the brett helps to get the beer to where you want it to go. I will keep an eye out for a bottle of the Logsdon Seizoen Bretta and see if I can culture it.

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