Coup de Soleil: Saison Brew Day


By: CJ, 16 July 2018

Saison As I mentioned in the inaugural post, I love a good brew day rundown. I also love a good saison. Like many Belgian beer styles, saisons create complex flavors using simple ingredients. The fact that saison yeasts love high temperatures (into the 90s) means that brewers in warm climates can produce tasteful examples of the style without swamp coolers, fermentation chambers, and the like. One of the best beers I've ever made was a low gravity saison with a large proportion of unmalted spelt. This brew is inspired by that batch, but with assorted grains I somehow accumulated. "Coup de Soleil" is French for "sunburn". You can guess why I—a pale dude who brews outdoors in the summer in the South—chose the name.

Vitals

Since I tend to get pretty low efficiency on my system, I'll give recipes in percentages so you can adapt things to your own brewhouse.

Grain


Hops


Yeast


Water


Specifications


Process

A couple days before brewing, I made a starter with the Wyeast strains and set aside the Brett. A day later, I ground the grain and set out my brewing water to dechlorinate. The raw farro and kamut were a pain to grind!

On brew day, I heated the full volume of my mash water and doughed in.

mash

I then performed a step mash (15 minutes at 131F, 30 minutes at 145F, and 30 minutes at 160F) and drained the wort into my kettle.

mash2 sweet wort

I boiled for 90 minutes, adding hops as per the schedule, cooled with my immersion chiller (using a combo of tap water and ice water) and ran off into a 6.5 gallon Big Mouth Bubbler. The yeast was pitched at 72F and the fermenter was left open for the first 36 hours. I covered the opening with a plastic bag to keep out any unwanted visitors like bugs, dust, or my lovely and amazing wife's long hair. Using an aquarium heater and a bin of water, I pushed the fermentation temperature into the mid 80's.

boil ferment

bottles



Remember that vial of Brett I mentioned? After fermenting the beer for 2 weeks, I bottled, priming with enough sugar to generate around 3 volumes of Co2. I dosed some of the bottles with Brett and left some without. WARNING: be extremely careful bottling with Brett! It is very easy to end up with bottle bombs. I let the bottles sit in a warm closet for a couple of weeks to carbonate, then started in on them.

Outcome

Finished Saison



Both versions are a slightly cloudy light, yellow-golden color with a dense white head that leaves plenty of lacing. The clean version gives an aroma of overripe peach and mango. Flavor follows the nose and shows some light bitterness with a grainy kick in the very dry finish. Notably absent were the classic peppery phenols that are so clear in Saison Dupont. The brett version is more complex and brighter in overall impression, with additional smoke and (for lack of a better word) 'aspirin' character in the aroma and hints of lemon and pineapple in the flavor. Overall, both versions were nice, but I preferred the brett version.