Brew Day: Shareholder’s Saison

Brewing for me started as something my girlfriend and I could do together. In the early days we would brew, rack, and bottle together. After our first batch we started developing our own recipies. If I came up with one on my own, she would come up with one of her own. Slowly the hobby sucked me in more than it did her. She liked brewing, but maybe not enough to want to do it every other weekend.

In the early days she found out about the Ales for ALS event in Essex and wanted to participate. When I volunteered for this year’s event and realized we would have to brew a couple of batches to bring to the event, she was as excited about brewing as she had been in a long time. I took this as an opportunity to make her more involved again and suggested she choose the style of one of the beers and develop a recipe.

I suggested several styles where we could go from grain to glass in a four week window. I was throwing out ideas, and when I suggested a saison her eyes lit up. Over the next few days she researched different recipes for ideas. When she was trying to fine tune how much to add of certain ingredients, I gave her a crash course in how to use the Beer Smith Mobile application on my iPad. Full credit to her for putting the recipe together. The only help I gave was that when she thought the beer might be too light in color, I suggested adding a little bit of Munich malt to darken the beer ever-so-slightly.

For ingredients she went more out of the box than I have in recent batches. In a traditional saison the spiciness and unique “funky” flavors come from the yeast and high fermentation temperatures. The finish is quite dry thanks to the liberal use of sugars. She wanted her beer to be different and elected to add additional spices to her beer. When I asked what type of flavor she was going for, she shrugged and said the beers and breweries she enjoys are a bit non-traditional like Dogfish Head, and that was what she wanted to do with her beer.

The yeast she selected, WLP760 American Farmhouse Blend contains a mix of saison yeast and brettanomyces or brett. Brett is a yeast that is a cousin of your typical brewers yeast, saccharomyces. When blended with saccharomyces, brett will give a beer funky, fruity, or barnyard type flavors. Brett works more slowly than brewers yeast and can ferment sugars in a wort that regular yeast cannot. This can cause a brett beer to change in character over the course of months or even years.

I haven’t brewed with brett before. My only concern is that given our short window that the brett will not be done fermenting before we package the beer. The plan is to keg three gallons to bring to Ales for ALS, and bottle the rest. I hope we don’t end up with gushers or bottle bombs as the brett continues to ferment the beer and release CO2. What I may do is fill the keg, and rack the remaining beer to smaller growlers to allow the rest of the beer more time to ferment and mature.

The yeast and spice additions were all her choices for her beer. My girlfriend really took ownership of the recipe. When 2 oz of Chocolate Malt meant for the Geary’s Summer Ale ended up mixed in with her grain she spend over an hour removing the Chocolate Malt kernel by kernel. The only area where she did slack was when it came to brewing the beer. After attending Bogie’s Oktoberfest she left that to me!

Click here for the full recipe.

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