One of my favorite beers to both brew and drink are Saisons. Over the summer, it’s odd to not find several on tap at home, including at least one Petite Saison. To me, they are the perfect beer. So it seems fitting that for my first yeast evaluation post, I would start with Saison – or in this case, 3 of them.
There are a lot of thoughts on what a Saison grist should look like. For me, I keep it pretty simple. Pilsner, a wheat or wheat-like grain and maybe some Munich. That’s it. For this test, I went with 85% Suger Creek Malt Pilsner, 8.5% spelt and 6# Munich (7 SRM). I really like the Pilsner from Sugar Creek. Light, grainy and subtly sweet. It is a great representation of a Pilsner malt.
A word on sugar. Many people add 5 – 10% of the fermentable sugars in the wort as table sugar. The idea being, that by replacing some of the base malt with sugar, you will dry the beer out further. However, in this case, the three yeast strains I am using are all S. cerevisiae var. diastaticus. That means, they all product the STA1 gene and that can break down longer chain dextrins and starch to simple sugars that are fermentable by the yeast. The result is that these strains can really dry out a beer. Now, if I was using different Saison strain, like Saison Maison, that is not var. diastaticus, I would have substituted some of the Pilsner for table sugar.
In terms of water. I start with RO and build up with gypsum and CaCl2. For this beer, I targeted 50 PPM Ca, 100 PPM SO4 and 50 ppm Cl. Lactic acid in the mash to reach target pH of 5.4 or so.
Hop wise, I am typically not the traditional type. For this brew, I went with Stresslespalt at FWH (13.7 IBUs) and Hallertau Blanc at flame out for 30 minutes (~13 IBUs). I am a big proponent of whirlpool hop additions for most of my beers. I always do a whirlpool – pump for 15 minutes then let rest for 15 minutes. There is something quite satisfying about a tight pile of trub and hop matter in the bottom of the kettle
I then cooled to 85F and knocked out into three different carboys. One got a heat wrap to maintain 85F and the other two were maintained at 75F.
French Saison is a classic and at 75F you expect pepper, spice and a boatload of wonderful fruity esters. Old World Saison Blend is a blend of 2 classic saison yeasts and produces a wonderfully complex array of fruity esters and peppery spice. This was also fermented at 75F
Probably the one I am most excited about it JÖTUNN. This is a new genetic hybrid yeast produced by Escarpment Labs. A great write up on it and how it is made can be found here. Give it a read – it is quite interesting. So JÖTUNN is a hybrid between a Kveik strain and a Saison strain. It is really the best of both world. You can consider it either a POF+ Kveik or a super fast fermenting Saison. Either way, I am excited to see how it works. It was fermented at 85F
Next time, we try them and get some feedback from some friends. Stay tuned.