Saison de l’amour

June 17, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Saison de l’amour or Season of Love is the second beer for my wedding this coming October.  This recipe is based heavily off of the Oaked EKG Single Hop Saison with a few subtle differences.  For this beer, I wanted to increase the overall complexity from the previous EKG Single Hop recipe. One way  I decided to do this was enhance the hop bill with additions of Citra and Hallertauer, two hops that I have used in the past with great results in saisons.  My intent with these selections was to introduce some citrus aromatics from the Citra, (which oddly enough is a cross between EKG, Hallertaur, US Tettnanger, and a few other unknown hops) and some spicy flavors from the Hallertauer to complement the spicy yeast phenols.

My second recipe tweak was to use the notorious Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saision yeast in favor of some of the White Lab Strains such as 566(Belgian Saison II) or 568(Belgian Style Saision Blend) that I have used in the past.  The 3724 has a reputation for stalling out leading to problematic fermentations, however in my opinion it produces some of the most prominent Belgian yeast characteristics out of any Saison strain available to homebrewers.  To me, this yeast produces flavors comprable to some proprietary commercial brewery yeast blends from Belgium or elsewhere.  I chose to focus on my mash, keeping a temperature ranging from 145 to 147 degrees instead of the addition of sugar to increase attenuation.  I also moved my fermentors into the garage  which should bring the temperatures well within the range of this yeast.

Lastly, I wanted to oak age the beer to incorporate another layer of complexity, however for this batch I switched from Hungarian Oak to French Oak Cubes.  I did this as in my past experience French Oak tends to be a bit smoother than both Hungarian and American Oak and due to the shorter than ideal time on the oak (3 months) I thought this would be the better choice.  Furthermore, French Oak is said to contribute notes of cinnamon and allspice, two flavors that I thought would complement the overall seasonality of our October wedding.

Saison de l’amour

Batch Size: 11 Gallons

Original Gravity: 1.061
Estimated Final Gravity: 1.008
Estimated ABV: 7.0%
IBU: 35.5
Color: 6.1
Boil Time: 90 Min

71% French Pilsner Malt
18.2% French Wheat Malt
4.5% Munich II Malt
3.4% Vienna Malt
2.8% Caramunich Malt

2 Oz East Kent Goldings (6.1% AA) at 60 min
.75 Oz East Kent Goldings (6.1% AA) at 20 min
.75 Oz Hallertauer (4.0% AA) at 20 min
.5 Oz Citra (10% AA) at 20 min
2 Oz East Kent Goldings (6.1% AA) at 5 min
.75 Oz Hallertauer (4.0% AA) at 5 min
.5 Oz Citra (10% AA) at 5 min

4.2L Starter of Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saison

Mash at 147 for 60 min
Mash out 168 for 10 min

Notes: Age on .5 oz of French Oak Cubes per Corny Keg for 3 months.

Wedding Saison

Port Oak Aged Saison #5 Tasting Notes

March 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm

If you frequently read my blog it may seem like I’m addicted to using port in my homebrews, rest assured this is not the case. In fact I had the unfortunete experience of dumping my Kate The Great Clone (recipe) several months ago due to a nasty acetobacter infection in my brewhouse. That recipe called for extended aging on port soaked oak cubes, so as a result of the spoiled batch I had a bunch of port soaked hungarian oak cubes lying around that I wanted to put to good use. I used a mix of the port for my raisin reduction for the winter dubbel (recipe) and decided to add 1.4 oz to the second keg of Saision #5, (recipe) brewed with a healthy dose of Columbus, Citra and Styrian Golding hops.

Four months ago I added 1.4 oz of port soaked oak cubes to the keg.  It is worth noting that these cubes had been sitting in the port wine for nearly 3 months prior to being added to the keg, and the total weight includes the saturation of port.  If I had to estimate it looked like roughly .75 oz of dry oak cubes.  The port adds a much more subtal layering of fruity sweetness that melds well with the subdued citrus hop notes of the aged saision.

My initial reaction is that I prefer the more subdued port accent notes found in this saision, as compared to the dominant role the port plays in the winter dubbel flavor profile.  It also blends well and provides a nice contrast to the spicy belgian yeast aromatics that have really began to come into their own after a few months in the keg. My major takeaway from my recent experience using port and oak in homebrews is that like many things in brewing less is more and port additions are best used as subtle accents to add additional flavor complexities, as opposed to being the lead flavor which can cause the beer to taste cloying.

Originally brewed on 9/15/2012 and kegged on 10/4/12 with 1.4 oz Port Soaked Hungarian Oak cubes.


Port Oak Aged Saison #5 Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Beer pours a deep burnt orange almost crystal clear. A towering two finger pillowy off white head lingers long after the initial pour.

Smell:  Subtle notes of port, vanilla, sweet orange. Moderate belgian phenols shine through the initial nose.

Taste: A mix of mild citrus, vanilla, and tannins on the initial sip. A sweet fruitiness is present making the beer taste less dry than the un-oaked version. Finishes smooth with port and oak flavors giving way to a clean finish of pepper and floral hops aromas.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation crisp and strong. The extended aging on the oak has taken off the hop bitterness and alchohol flavors present in the un-oaked version providing a much more balanced beer.

Drinkability & Notes:  As you can see from the flavor wheel this beer balances a moderate array of flavors nicely. The sweet port notes foil the spicy belgian phenols , while the oak has taken the bitter hop edge off as compared to the original un-oaked version putting its bitterness levels squarely within the style guidelines of a Saision. Overall the beer has a lot of moving parts that over time have come into balance nicely and led to a really enjoyable, highly complex saison. As much as I want to push my homebrewing in a multitude of new directions, Iv’e got to say after tasting this beer this probably won’t be the last time I age beer on port soaked oak.


Oak Aged EKG Single Hop Saison Tasting Notes

January 8, 2013 at 7:55 pm

For Christmas this year I received a beer tasting kit from my sister, inside was a tasting note card with a flavor profile wheel.  As I post the majority of my tasting notes on the blog, I thought it would be a nice addition to add my own take on the flavor wheel to all future tasting notes on the site.  My wheel consists of 16 unique flavors subdivided into three levels of intensity; slight, moderate, and intense.  I hope that you will find this addition to the blog helpful as it will add a visual component to the traditional tasting notes categories found on many other blogs.

During my peak brewing season (April-November) I brew roughly 30 gallons a month, which as you can imagine is far to much beer for me to drink no matter how much I love beer.  I do 10 gallon batches and will often put a fresh corny on tap as soon as possible and leave one for later.  I decided that I would like to do an oaked beer and thought a saision would be a good candidate as they can become more defined with age.  I decided to add .75 oz of medium toast Hungarian Oak, hoping for a moderate to strong oak presence in the final beer.  The tasting notes below were taken after the beer (recipe) had been aged on the oak cubes for 6 months.

Oak Aged EKG Single Hop Saison Tasting Notes:


Appearance: Pours a crystal clear deep yellow, with a frothy white head.  Head dissipates slowly with moderate lacing around the glass.

Smell: Strong Belgian yeast aromatics and fruit dominate.  Finishes with slight notes of vanilla, flowers, and pepper.

Taste: Starts with a crisp carb bite and moderate bitterness.  The taste transitions to notes of bubble gum, fresh flowers, and sweet malt flavors. Finishes with a warming alcohol presence,subtle vanilla and oak flavors to round out the beer.

Mouthfeel:  Highly carbonated, extremely dry.

Drinkability & Notes:  The contrast between the fruity belgian yeast notes and the oak in combination with the delicate floral notes of the Eastern Kent Golding Hops make this one of the more complex beers I have ever brewed.  The yeast is the real star of this beer in my mind, as the Belgian Saision II (WLP566) gave off flavors that I would deem comparable to many commercial saisions (I have not found this to be the case with some of the other saision yeast strains).  This beer has gotten rave reviews from all my family and friends who have tried it so far and is on my short of potential beers for my wedding later this year.

The non-oaked version of this beer was exceptional as well with the only notable difference being a much more pronounced hop aroma and floral flavors.  It lacked the added dimension of the Hungarian Oak which in my mind put this beer over the top making it on of my favorites to date



Saison #5 Tasting Notes

November 13, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Saisons are one of, if not my favorite style of beer to brew.  I really enjoy their crisp dry finish, Belgian yeast aromatics, and not that it really matters in homebrewing, but their loose style guidelines.  In my mind Saisons openly encourage experimentation more than almost any other style of beer, with the basis of the style providing a strong enough foundation to support almost anything a brewer can imagine. Homebrewers and professionals alike have been pushing the boundaries of saisons whether it be adding Brett or other microbes, black saisions, herb or fruit oriented versions, or in my case hop forward ones.

After brewing several saisions I have settled on this grist composition for the last two batches as it yields a brilliant deep burnt orange color as well as a subtle complexity of malts that I find blends really well with different types of hop and spice combinations.  For this recipe I was looking to brew a hop forward Saison that blended an assertive American hop, Columbus, with the more subdued floral spice of Styrian Goldings.

I also took one of the two kegs of the Saison and added 1.25 oz of Hungarian Oak cubes that had been soaking in port for about 3 months.  My hope is the port and oak mixture will add a flavors of sweet fruit, wood, and vanilla that will blend with the crisp bitterness of the Saison as currently constituted. I plan on aging for between 3-6 months in the spirit of the Saison experimentation, so stay tuned for the tasting notes on that batch in the next couple of months.

Originally brewed on 9/15/2012 and kegged on 10/8/12 these tasting notes were recorded 36 days after the completion of the primary fermentation.

Saison #5 Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Pours a deep burnt orange, with a one finger thick white head.  Subdued dissipation gives way to  a razor thin white head with strong lacing grasping tightly to the rim of the glass.

Smell: A blend of sweetness, orange peel, and ripe fruit, with moderate alcohol notes present with a deep sniff.

Taste: Mild citrus notes on the initial sip, with hints of pepper in the background.  Assertive hop bitterness gives way to a crisp, clean, floral finish.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation crisp and strong, mild alcohol flavors present. Clean and refreshing.

Drinkability & Notes:  A hop forward Saison, one might compare to the in vogue Belgian IPA.  The clean, yet subtly complex malt flavors complement the mixture of mild citrus and floral hops perfectly in my opinion.  The result is a dangerously drinkable, and extremely delicious Saision that leaves your mouth watering for more after each and every sip.


Saison #5

September 27, 2012 at 12:01 am

Batch Size: 10 Gallons
Original Gravity: 1.060
Estimated Final Gravity: 1.010
ABV: 6.6%
IBU: 49.9
Color: 10.3 SRM
Boil Time: 75 Min

68.2% Pilsner Malt
18.2% Wheat Malt
10.3% Vienna Malt
2.9% Special B Malt
.5% Caramunich II Malt

1 Oz Columbus (12.8% AA) at 60 min
1 Oz Styrian Goldings (5.5% AA) at 20 min
.25 Oz Columbus (12.8% AA) at 20 min
1 Oz Styrian Goldings (5.5% AA) at 10 min
.5 Oz Columbus (12.8% AA) at 10 min
1 Oz Styrian Goldings (5.5% AA) at 5 min
.5 Oz Columbus (12.8% AA) at 5 min
.5 Oz Cita (13.4% AA) at 5 min

2.56L Starter of White Labs 568 Belgian Style Saison Blend

Mash at 147 for 60 minutes raise to 165 for 10 min mashout.

EKG Single Hop Saison

June 15, 2012 at 12:27 am
Batch Size: 10.5 Gallons
Estimated Original Gravity: 1.057
Estimated Final Gravity: 1.006
Estimated ABV: 6.7%
IBU: 34.6
Color: 6.4
Boil Time: 90 Min

71% French Pilsner Malt
18.2% French Wheat Malt
4.5% Munich II Malt
3.4% Vienna Malt
2.8% Caramunich Malt

2 Oz East Kent Goldings (6.1% AA) at 60 min
1.5 Oz East Kent Goldings (6.1% AA) at 20min
2 Oz East Kent Goldings (6.1% AA) at 2 min

2L Starter of White Labs Belgian Saison II

Mash at 147 for 60 min
Mash out 168 for 10 min