Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saison #1

My dad has a way of describing jobs around the house by how many beers he needs to drink to get the job done. Cleaning the p-trap in the kitchen sink would be a one beer job. Building a garden box for my mom would probably be a two beer job. Farmers in Belgium 150 years ago felt the same way. Not having much farm work to do in the winter time, they brewed beer, a style called Saison. It was meant to be a low alcohol easy drinking beer to give to the farmhands to refresh them in the hard hot summers.

It is also probably my favorite style of beer to brew. Because it was brewed on every farm, every farmer had his own recipes, typically using whatever ingredients he had on his own farm. This made for some massive diversity, to the point where there is no real standard bearer beer for the style. Brewers know when they're drinking one, but no two are alike. Like the guy at the home brew shop said to the this weekend: "Get the right yeast, throw a bunch of crap in your mash tun, and let it rip!"

Saison #1

Rahr Premium Pilsner- 8 lbs
Sauer Malt- 5 oz
CaraFoam- 5 oz
CaraVienne- 5 oz

Wilammette- 1 oz- 60 minutes
French Streisspalt- 2 oz- 14 minutes

Wyeast Saison 3724- 1000 ml yeast starter- pitched off the stir plate

148 single infusion with a 1 gallon decoction mash out

Gravity- Target/Actual/Final/ABV

Saison yeasts are typically very high attenuators, so my aim with the grain bill and mash is to make something that will finish dry. This is the first of a couple Saison's I'm going to do, so I decided this one should be light in color (more of a classic Saison), with small amounts of character malts. The next one will be darker, less classic, and more dependent on darker base and character malts. I wanted an unobtrusive bitterness to balance the grain, so I went with Willamette. The Streisspalt flavor charge is more of the sort of thing you would expect to find in a classic recipe, something a farmer in Wallonia might have growing in a far off corner of his farm. They were unlike any hops I've used before. They didn't have that greeny freshness you find with American hops, but more of a solid spice aroma coming off of them.

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