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I have a love-hate relationship with Saison beer. And by that I mean that I love them now, but used to hate them. After many attempts to get on board with the style, I finally figured out that what works for me is either a lighter bodied saison, or a saison with some sour acidity to cut through the yeasty flavor. This recipe combines both. It’s a “petite” saison that has been blended with sour solera beer. If you want to brew this recipe but don’t have a solera to pull from, no worries. We’ll outline a process you can use.
First we start with brewing, using the Clawhammer 10 gallon brewing system. After that we fermented, blended, and bottled.
Homebrew Saison Video
As usual, we filmed the entire brew day. Here's the video. However, keep scrolling for full Saison recipe details, including ingredient amounts, timing, etc.
Brewing Water Chemistry
We started with 7.4 gallons (28 liters) of Asheville city water and added 5 grams of Gypsum and 1 gram of Epsom salt. Don’t get too hung up on those numbers because water chemistry will be different for everyone. The most important thing you can do for chemistry is to adjust pH.
Beer Mash Grains
We used 9 pounds 8 ounces (4kg 309.1g) of Pilsner malt, 1 pound 4 ounces (567g) of Vienna malt, 9.5 ounces (269.3g) of Wheat malt and 2.4 ounces (68.04g) of Caramunich malt.
Brewing Mash Procedure
We mashed at 150 degrees Fahrenheit (65.6C) for 60 minutes
Stirring mash to avoid clumping
Pulling grains at the end of our mash
30 minutes into our boil we added an ounce (28.35g) of Fuggle hops. These hops have 2.9% alpha acids.
50 minutes into our boil we added an ounce (28.35g) of Styrian Golding hops. These hops also have 2.9% alpha acids. We also added a whirlfloc tablet at this time for clarity.
Yeast and Fermentation
At the end of our boil we chilled down to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21.1C) and added two packs of WLP565 Belgian Saison yeast from White Labs.
Taking yeast out of the fridge - do this at the beginning of your brew day so it can warm up to room temp
We fermented for 14 days at room temp. We keep the office at 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21.1C).
A solera is simply a keg or a carboy that is filled that is filled with a mixture of old and new fermented beer, which contains micro organisms that produce funky and / or sour flavors. I made my solera by brewing a dark saison and adding The Yeast Bay's Melange and House Sour blends. I also bought unfiltered and unpasteurized bottles of sour beer from my homebrew shop and dumped the dregs from the bottom of the bottles into the solera barrel.
At one point I drained about half the contents of the solera for bottling, but immediately replaced it with fresh, unfermented wort. It's kind of like a sour dough bread starter. This allows me to maintain a consistent sour profile and always have some sour on hand, in case I want to drink some or blend it!
We decided to blend our Saison and solera beer at a 2:1 ratio. So 66.66% of Saison and 33.33% of solera.
We blended the two with a wine thief for an initial taste testing
This determination was made after taste testing and also a prayer to the beer gods, which was answered with a buzz and divine wisdom.
Emmet nor Kyle had bottled beer in over 10 years and neither had any significant experience to speak of. In typical fashion they watched a few youtube videos and just had at it. Watch until the end of the video to see how that worked out for them!
Here's some bonus footage that was cut from part 1 of the sour Saison video.