Thursday, September 6, 2012

Autumnal Saison

Rye Saison; Autumnal Saison

In another effort to make use of the remaining warm weather and some recent offerings from my Valley Malt Malt of the Month Club I decided to try my hand at brewing one last saison of the summer that would be a nice warm drinking and crisp saison to enjoy as the leaves begin to change, the wool shirts get taken out, and more nights are spent by the fire pit.   Also, I did find myself smiling at the idea of brewing a saison on Labor Day as saisons history goes; I think it was quite fitting.

The Rye that this recipe was built around was grown in New York and malted in Hadley, Massachusetts.  It had a projected SRM of around 11.5 Lovibond and had a nice amber hue to it post malting.  The smell of it was simply wonderful.  Strong bread notes with hints of chocolate and an undertone of spice.  Upon crushing the grains I was overwhelmed by the intense deep dark chocolate smell.  I had thought about adding some crystal to the grist to ensure an amber hue but upon smelling this decided against it and that the play between this and the German Pils would be really something nice and stand alone on its own nicely.

I had never crushed Rye before so I did a bit of research and “field testing” to get the rollers set just right before crushing the Rye.  I ran the Rye through by itself, re-adjusting the rollers, mixed the Rye back into the uncrushed base malt and ran that through as normal.  The smell of the two together was quite nice.  The chocolate was definitely less pronounced but the two combined gave me nice malty, bready, and still a bit spicy grist.  The same could be said about the mash once I had mashed in.

Back to what I was going for with this beer before I get too off track:  If you remember from a while back, I brewed and bottled my Saison de Posey.  That particular saison was finished with WLP645 Brettanomyces Claussenii, cloudberry honey, and some Jolly Pumpkin dregs.  It had been sitting on that wonderful yeast cake for about 5 months and once I racked the beer off of it I was able to rack a bit of my Fletcher Sour Brown (pre soured) onto it as I put that into secondary and pitched its ECY01 mixture….more on that later.  I racked a bit of beer on top of the cake for a couple reasons…A.) the color of Fletcher was beautiful and could add a bit of deep color to the saison and B.) because it is hard to let a good yeast cake go when you have spent so much time with it.

My thought was that this beer would play out really well if it were to spend some time in secondary hanging out with this yeast cake.  The spice of the rye, the fruitiness from my aroma hops and the primary fermentation with ECY08 Saison Brasserie, and the bitterness/piney characteristics of the bitter hops should all balance out nicely.  I wanted this beer to have SOME of those fruity characteristics but not be too far swayed in that direction as I picture this beer being a bit more spicy, alcoholic, and having more “crisp evening” feel than a “wicked hot summer thirst quencher” feel.  Looking for balance here people…or maybe harmony is a better term.  I have certainly turned this into an idyllic beer haven’t I?

Will I accomplish all of this?  I am not sure, but I am confident this will turn into a good beer.
Recipe, Notes, & Details

9 lbs German Pilsner
2.5 lbs Amber Rye (11.5 lovibond)

150 degree single infusion mash @ 60 min

60 min

1 oz Columbus @ 60 min
.5 oz Simcoe @ 5 min
.5 oz Citra @ 5 min

Yeasts & Adjuncts:
ECY08; Saison Brasserie starter.  Made ¾ liter starter well in advance. Aerated on stir plate.  My wife had a baby so I had to postpone brew day.  Cold crashed starter in fridge.  Warmed up to room temp on brew day, re-suspended yeast and pitched without decanting.

Saison de Posey yeast cake for secondary fermentation.  WLP645 and Jolly Pumpkin Dregs.

6.5 gallons pre boil
Pre boil gravity 1.045
Original Gravity: 1.057
Gravity at Secondary:
Final Gravity:

45 seconds of oxygen

9/5/12- 48 hours after pitching slight signs of fermentation began manifesting at 4 pm.  By 6 pm there was a full on 6 inch krausen that required blow off tube.  Fermentation began at 78 F, ramped up to 80 and held there.

9/8/2012- Gravity already down to 1.012.  Transferred before the ECY08 was done fermenting so that I could leave a bit of fermentables for the brett cake to chew on.  Pre pitching onto the yeast cake the saison was a beautiful golden color.  Almost exactly what I was hoping for.  I am hoping that wort from the sour brown I transferred onto the cake to keep it safe and covered won't change the color too much but will only add a deeper hue to the golden color to give it a bit more of that amber and deep fall color.  The aroma was very pleasant and similar to the young aroma of the last couple times I used this yeast.  A tad bit sulfury on the nose (which quickly dissipates as the yeast works and relaxes).  However the spice from the Rye and peppery notes from the yeast dominate this beer in most pleasant way.  I think it will play nice with the sweet/fruit contributions of the WLP645.  Also, lots of dark fruit in the nose.  The taste and the aroma aren't too far off from one another right now.  Again, I expect that to change as the beer matures. 
Post blending I was very happy with the color of the beer.  It is nice and amber hued almost looking burgundy/dark red.  Very excited to see how this beer ages.

10/10/2012 Sample
10/10/2012- Gravity down to 1.008. Fermentation is still happening but very slowly.  There wasn't a lot for the bugs to eat when I pitched it in but I do hope the yeast cake keeps developing.  Color is now deep golden/straw and much more clarified/brilliant than the sample in the picture to the right during transfer.  The bugs are doing a great job clearing things up.  Aroma is tart.  Horsey with lots of wet hay and grass.  Taste is dry and tart.  Not too fruity.  There were more fruity notes than I thought there would be given the aroma.


  1. I love that mash paddle! Homemade or bought?

    1. Homemade by a friend. I drilled the holes in there and still need to sand it down as the paddle split when the bit came through the other end. Bummer but it still works like a charm. I will pass along your feedback to my buddy. Cheers and thanks for reading

  2. I love that you say, "Wife had baby. Had to postpone brew day". Very factual and to the point. hehe. I know nothing about brewing beer, so it's fun to read and figure out. Silvia

    1. Silvia, good to hear from is almost like it happened just like that. Baby came. Brew day postponed. I am learning that there is very little, apparent, middle ground with children.