Netting 12 gallons of wort from each brew day I’ve had to get creative with my recipes and fermentation (parti-gyling, staggering hop additions, and doctoring). This split batch of Pilsner and Saison was pretty straight-forward, identical worts (including dry hopping) with two diametrically-opposed yeasts: one a lager (WLP800 Pilsner Lager), the other a Belgian mixed-culture (3031-PC Saison-Brett Blend). No better example of the old adage that “Brewers make wort, but yeast make beer!”
Appearance – Clear (nearly crystal) bright yellow, just a shade darker than my Berliners for palest. Fantastic head retention, dense sticky white, with a full covering down to the last sip.
Smell – Nose is clean, the herbal-lemon hoppiness comes through fresh and energetic. The best nose on any Pilsner I’ve brewed. Maybe a hint of diacetyl as it approaches room temperature, although my wife (and chief diacetyl tester) has yet to note it.
Taste – Flavor is similarly clean, no yeastiness or yeast character. The hop bitterness is firm, but not rough or lingering. Malt adds a faint fresh-baked white bread flavor in the middle, not grainy. Hop flavor is saturated, without being grassy like noble hops tend to be when used for dry hopping.
Mouthfeel – A hair full for than a classic German Pilsner, perhaps mid-way to Bohemian (thanks to the yeast, and/or higher chloride). Still medium-light and pleasant for my palate. Slightly stinging carbonation, but nothing approaching the carbonic bite of my least favorite pale lagers.
Drinkability & Notes – Chock another one up for Firestone-Walker, Saphir will be my new go-to for Pilsners! A wonderfully drinkable beer that doesn’t cross into being an India Pale Lager with a distinctly American-hop character and assertive bitterness.
Appearance – Appears a shade golder thanks to the haze (and wider glass). Head retention is slightly lower, but the lacing is clingier.
Smell – The hop aroma doesn’t come through nearly as clearly. It’s hiding behind the yeasts’ green apple skin, peppery-spice, and melon. The Saphir does add a delicate herbal-liveliness that too many “Bretted” saisons lack, especially as it warms. A bit more ethanol too, thanks to higher attenuation (and a warmer fermentation).
Taste – Apple is there again, although a bit more bruised than in the nose. Typical French Saison-type tropical fruit and spice. The Brett finally shows up in the finish, all leather and horse blanket. This blend does a lovely job balancing the “saison” and the Brett, not going fully wild-funkmotron as too many Brett Saisons do. Mild acidity, not enough to clash with the solid hop bitterness. The maltiness from the Pilsner is obscured. Bone dry.
Mouthfeel – Leaner mouthfeel, not tannic or drying though. Same carbonation, thanks to the manifold.
Drinkability & Notes – I’m reasonably pleased with the Wyeast Saison-Brett Blend given the relatively short turnaround on this batch! The Brett provides depth without dominating the saison-iness. I think the Saphir does well here, although not in a starring role like the Pilsner.