Belgian Saison Recipe

Saison can be a difficult beer to brew, especially when using the yeast attributed to Brasserie Dupont (Wyeast 3724 or White Labs WLP565) which can be notoriously fickle. In my experience with using solely Wyeast 3724 the beer tends to attenuate about 10-25% in a day or two, and then floc out and take an additional 4-6 weeks of heavy heat to complete fermentation. To overcome this, I’ve designed this recipe to first use the Dupont strain to impart its beautiful ester profile and then the French saison strain (Wyeast 3711) to get the beer dried out in a reasonable amount of time. Additionally this recipe contains a fair amount of acidulated malt to accentuate the beers quenching nature as well as a fair amount of Munich malt to compliment the austere pilsner base. The touch of special roast provides additional character to the malt flavor. I don’t like coriander or other spices in my saisons as I think the yeast gives plenty of spice character on its own.

Specifications

Volume: 6.12 Gallons
Original Gravity: 1.055
Terminal Gravity: 1.004
Color: 8.37 SRM
Alcohol: 6.65%
Bitterness: 24.3
Efficiency: 78% (tweak recipe to match efficiency of your brew house)
Boil Length: 90 Minutes

Ingredients

7 lb (57.7%) Belgian Pils
2 lb (16.5%) Munich TYPE II; Weyermann
2 lb (16.5%) Pale Wheat Malt; Weyermann
6 oz (3.1%) Acidulated Malt; Weyermann
4 oz (2.1%) Special Roast Malt; Briess
.5 lb (4.1%) White Table Sugar (Sucrose)
.5 oz (18.2%) Magnum (12.5%) – added during boil, boiled 60 m
.5 oz (18.2%) Hallertau Mittelfruh (3.4%) – added during boil, boiled 60 m
.5 oz (18.2%) Styrian Goldings (3.8%) – added during boil, boiled 20 m
1 ea Whirlfloc Tablets (Irish moss) – added during boil, boiled 15 m
.75 tsp Wyeast Nutrient – added during boil, boiled 10 m
.75 oz (27.3%) Hallertau Mittelfruh (3.4%) – added during boil, boiled 0.0 m
.5 oz (18.2%) Styrian Goldings (3.8%) – added during boil, boiled 0.0 m
1 ea WYeast 3724 Belgian Saison™ – 1000ml Starter on Stirplate
1 ea WYeast 3711 French Saison Yeast

Water

Carbon-filtered Seattle water which is very soft.  All salts added to grist before mashing in.
4.0 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate)
6.0 g Calcium Chloride (Calcium Chloride)
2.0 g Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulfate)

Mash

90 Minute Saccharification Rest at 146° F
10 Minute Mashout Rest at 170° F (I do a second hot water infusion to mashout)
Sparge at 170° F and collect sufficient runnings to hit pre-boil volumes.

Fermentation

  1. Chill wort to 74° F and pitch yeast slurry of Wyeast 3724.
  2. Ferment 74-82° F until yeast flocculates and activity drops off.
  3. Pitch smack pack of Wyeast 3711 and keep temperature in the low 80’s. Ferment until beer is attenuated to 92% or so. It may take weeks… be patient.

Keys to Brewing

  1. High attenuation is the heart of Saison’s very nature. Because of this, it is important to push the fermentation with high temperatures and design the grain bill and mash profile to encourage maximum fermentation. Low 90’s percentage-wise is a starting point for a good attenuation rate.
  2. Don’t use crystal malt in your saisons (including carapils). It tastes odd to me and really clashes with the overall nature of the beer. If you want more malt character that is not sweet or caramel like, try malts like Munich, Victory, Biscuit, Special Roast, etc. that add interesting notes without adding lots of unfermentable sugars. If you’re worried about head retention, add some wheat.

Awards

The beer brewed from this recipe has won several awards as a BJCP Category 16c. Saison:

  • 2012 NHC First Round – 1st Place
  • 2012 Best of the Bay – 2nd Place

11 thoughts on “Belgian Saison Recipe

  1. Thanks for sharing this recipe! It sounds great and I will certainly give this one a go.
    I currently have a beer going now with 3724. I’m only 4 days in and I am getting steady activity through the the blowoff tube and I have raised the temp to the low 80’s. I tried to do something similar to a Tank 7 so there was a few lbs of flaked corn in mine. This is the first beer I have done with this yeast and I am considering 3711 to speed things up. Your recipe has definitely made me consider this even more now.

    Keep up the great posts and site! Cheers!

    • That’s a pretty big pH drop. How confident are you in the meter’s calibration? With a drop like that, your base water must already have a considerable amount of calcium in it. I would look into your water report and see what your baseline is as you likely don’t need any more mineral additions. The mineral additions in my recipe where primarily for pH correction and yeast health (Seattle water which I brewed with is basically devoid of mineral content). The acidity of the final beer will likely be a bit lower, but this will have less of a flavor impact than what is likely to be a pretty high sulfate level in your beer.

      • Thanks for the feedback! So, as far as my knowledge goes, sulfates will allow a ‘crisp hoppiness’. I did a mostly sorachi ace hop regime with most of it FWH and late additions. If you’d like to analyze, how do you think the possible high mineral content (sulfates) of this beer will affect the flavor? I also added about a lb. each of honey malt and honey, and 2 lbs. wheat in a 12-13 gal batch. How do you think it will affect the overall flavor? Low mash Ph (sourness?), rich in sulfates (hop pop and ?), and specialty/adjuncts (maybe a bit sweet?). Could be a bit much, but I’ve just received some whisky oak barrels from a friend and was hoping to put this beer into it..but not if it has lots of weird off flavors. The smell coming out of the fermenters is really nice–though was hoping for more spiciness from yeast to go well with the whisky/oak barrel flavors. Using Belle Saison at 74-76 next to a space heater with blankets on top (so one side gets a little more heated than 76..strip thermo on opposite from heater). Again, your opinion will be greatly appreciated! 😀

      • Also, I was using Ph strips that might be about 6-8 months old. Not too confident in its measurement but they have been quite consistent. I’m hoping they’re a bit off, but I was quite excited to find out the low Ph might give the beer a sourness I won’t be able to achieve with yeast and hopefully balanced out by the wheat/honey malt combo. Oh, and total IBUs are about 23 I think..hopefully won’t overwhelm the beer. OG 1.061, mashed at 149. Cheers!

      • And the only analysis I’ve been able to ascertain is one my friend got from a nearby city: Ca was about 50. I figured a little extra wouldn’t hurt it too much?? I suppose with my higher than wanted mash temp, specialties, I might get a maltier beer. Hopefully, not a bad one!

        • Thanks for more info. Given you batch size, the water additions that you added, and the 50 ppm CA (approximate) in your base water, I think you’re fine. Your treatments are probably really similar to what I would do for a light colored beer like that. It is pretty unlikely, that you pH is really that low. My bet would be that the pH strips are inaccurate (they have limited shelf life). I really don’t think there will be any sourness in the beer (even if the mash pH was that low).

          • Thanks for the replies Nick! How do you think my beer would do in a french oak whisky cask? A bit of a stretch I know but gotta put something in it so it doesn’t dry out.

          • A first glance, it seems like a bit of an odd pairing, although sometimes things that aren’t readily obvious come out the best. How spent is the barrel? I tend to like beers with a bit of residual sweetness when barrel aging which complements the toasty/coconut/vanilla character that tends to come from barrels. If this character is minimal, it could be good.

          • Update on Saison Honey Oak: really nice! haha.. The overall beer came out fantastic–a very balanced mix of boozy (Tibetan highland barley whiskey), honey (malt and regular), sorachi ace herbal qualities, woodsy n vanilla from oak..and a little berry/dark fruits (Munich II and wheat mixing with yeast I suppose) on the nose after it has been poured. The honey and sugar has thinned it out for a 7.6% easy drinker that has a high quality spirit(ual) high. The barrel was given by amateur distillers that had Tibetan highland barley whisky in it for 2.5 years..my run would be the second overall running, first beer run. I only left it in for about 2.5 weeks seeing as I didn’t want to over-power the already great saison flavor coming from post-fermentation. If you’d like, I could send you the recipe. Quite unique to say the least. Cheers for your help and if you’re ever in China, beers on me! 😉

  2. I added some 4g gypsum and 6g CaCl2 to the mash (local tap water..no analysis info..my guess is light/medium hardness profile) for a 12 gal batch. Mash Ph dropped to 4.6. How will this affect the final beer? More acidic (how much more)? I assume the salt additions are there to achieve a slight sourness to the beer. Is this correct? Any info appreciated! Thanks!

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