The name comes from the fact that I added two pounds of Dutch Gold’s Golden Honey. This is a blend of orange blossom and clover honey. Simple sugars are an important ingredient when brewing saisons. Standard table sugar is fine, but I hoped to get a little extra character from this delicious honey.
Either way, the added sugar is completely fermentable and helps the yeast dry the beer out as much as possible. This makes it crisp and thirst quenching. The yeast is the most important part, but the sugar is what helps the yeast do it’s job.
Saison yeast usually adds a lot of spicy phenols and sometimes some fruitier esters. The peppery spices are usually more prevalent, though. They are also extremely attenuative. Paradoxically, some strains are notorious for getting stuck, though. I was very nervous about this. Research told me that Wyeast’s French Saison was the strain to go to if you wanted to avoid this problem.
I can’t get Wyeast products from my local homebrew shops, so I had to order it online, which is not something I normally do. Shipping yeast makes me nervous, too. In this case, it worked out.
Saison yeasts like it hot. Brewers often push saison fermentations into nineties. I carried my carboy to the attic, the hottest spot in the house, for this reason. This is the only time I’ve done this. When I brewed Table Cat this year, I sat it on top of a heat vent in the kitchen and I think that worked just as well.
The malt bill for a saison should usually be very simple. You don’t want to get in the way of the yeast. That goes for fermentability, you don’t want Crystal Malts adding non fermentable sugars, and just for flavor. These beers do often have grains other than barley, though. I used some Wheat extract. The rest of the bill was contained in a BIAB partial mash. It consisted of Belgian Pilsner Malt and small amount of Belgian Munich Malt. I would probably skip the Munich altogether if I was making this now.
Saison is the hoppiest of the Belgian styles. That is, of course, not saying a whole lot, though. I would have liked this beer to be a bit hoppier. The bitterness was at a good level, but the Hallertau aroma hop additions I used were not quite enough, in my opinion. I don’t think it necessarily needed more hops, just a different variety. I think something like Tettnang or Saaz, still staying in the Noble Hop family, would have been preferable and could hold up to the yeast character a bit better.
That lack of hop aroma was the only problem I had with this beer. Beyond that, it was delicious and refreshing. At 6.4% ABV, it packed enough of a punch was not too unwieldy to enjoy a couple. I was hoping to brew another Saison this Summer but haven’t been able to fit it in. I’m still planning to make it according to the basic recipe I’ve had in mind for a long time, but it has been pushed back closer to the holidays at this point. Look for that in the coming months after you have checked out the recipe below for this tasty beer.Style: Saison
Brew Date: April 6, 2013
Serve Date: May, 2013
Original Gravity: 1.052
Final Gravity: 1.003
5 lb Belgian Pilsner Malt
.5 lb Belgian Munich Malt
3 lb Wheat DME
2 lb Golden Honey (blend of Orange Blossom and Clover) added during chilling
1 oz US Goldings @ 60 min
1 oz Hallertau @ 30 min
1 oz Hallertau @ 2 min
Wyeast 3711: French Saison