Mar 13, 2021
It wasn't that long ago that saisons were one of the popular styles. Several breweries offered up some variation or another and a lot of great collaborations came about. The saisons are still there, they just don't have the hype they used to. We'd love to see them come back around.
The saison style started in 1700s in Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium. Each farm brewed their own take on these Farmhouse Ales in the cold months for seasonal farm workers (Saisonnièrs) to drink during the warm months. This gave farm workers something to do in the cold months, used up any excess grain, and provided a clean and safe source of hydration for farm workers. Each worker may drink up to 5 Liters per day of these low ABV (3.0-3.5%) beers as they toiled away. As each farm used the resources they had available it was difficult to nail down an exact saison style at the time. Today, the style has some definition but still offers up a lot of variation. The alcohol content has creeped up a bit and the ones that fall into the range of the originals are known as a Table Beer.
Saison lovers Britt Teusink of brewery in planning Frameshift Fermentation and Brandon King of Stout Brothers Beer Markets joined us on the show this week to dive into the style. Teusink plans to brew a variety of saisons at Frameshift and has his own blended culture to provide a unique character to each of his brews.
Saison Lovers Unite! (L-R) Brian Hewitt, Britt Teusink of Frameshift Fermentation, Brandon King of The Stout Bros., and Tim Dennis.
Saison is a great style for new homebrewers to try out as the yeast is very open to higher temperatures that don't require temperature control. Pitch your yeast at room temperature and let it go and you should end up with a great saison. For the malt bill you can use all Pilsner malt, or toss in some spelt or wheat to your liking. Experienced homebrewers can expand on the style with the huge variety of yeasts available or culture their own.
Here's our recipe for Synesthesia Saison. We've consumed gallons of this beer and it's won a handful of medals in homebrew competitions. If you try it out let us know what you think.
Batch size: 5.5 gallons
Mash for 75 minutes at 148°F and sparge to target volume. Boil 120 minutes following addition schedule above. Chill to 67°F and pitch healthy yeast into well oxygenated wort. Start fermentation at 67° and ramp 5° every 24 hours to 90°, allow to ferment for a total of 14 days, verifying FG is reached. Bottle condition to 3.0 vols for at least a month (you can drink it earlier but it’s much better after a month+), beer develops champagne-like characteristics with age.