Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hoppy French Saison Tasting

I've been enjoying the Hoppy Saison I brewed back in November one on tap for more than a month now, but I'm just getting around to putting the description down on (internet) paper.  I think it turned out pretty well, the appearance in particular is striking (just look at that head!).  This beer is a great example of how simplicity (2 malts, 1 hop, 1 yeast) can create complexity that you cannot get by adding every malt available at the homebrew store.  Brew simple!

Hoppy French Saison

Appearance – Stiff-peaks-egg-white-head, with enough stability for it to sit above the rim of the glass for a couple minutes while I took pictures. Terrific retention, thick lacing, probably the best head of any beer I have brewed. Sitting beneath the head is a clear, golden yellow, sunshine body.

Smell – Some nice herbal/spicy saaz notes mingle with the fruity (pear, hints of banana) yeast character. Not as much peppery-ness as I would have expected from a saison yeast, but there is a bit hiding behind the hops and esters.

Taste – The combination of spice and fruit from the nose continues in the mouth. Nice solid rustic bitterness on top of a slightly bready malt base. There is even a touch of malty/honey sweetness, surprising, but not unpleasant. Just a hint of ethanol on the end, with the high attenuation this ended up at 6.5% ABV.

Mouthfeel – Moderate carbonation, more body than the low FG (1.002) would suggest. Could be more carbonated, but my tap system seems to be knocking out most of it (thus the huge head). No astringency, just a nice crisp dry finish.

Drinkability & Notes – A perfect ray of sunshine on a dark winter night, easy to drink yet plenty complex. Works well as a breather when there are so many strong/dark/thick/boozy beers to try this time of year (not that I am complaining). A warmer ferment would have gotten this more saison-like, but I think it is great as is (Belgians aren't exactly style obsessed). It will be interesting to see how this beer works with the big, dark saison we pitched onto the yeast cake.


jaymo said...

It's great to hear more good things about the French Saison strain. I've been meaning to use a pack of this for a saison for awhile. With the characteristics you and others have mentioned, it sounds like simple is a good way to go with this.

As a side note, I'm also itching to do a saison split between a fruity wine yeast and an ale yeast with the capability to dry things out well. This could be a great candidate for that as well.

Seanywonton said...

Looks great! Try and save some to taste side-by side with the pilsner half when it's ready.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Sadly I dropped the idea of doing half as a pils, would have made for a great tasting though. Still hoping to do a pils soon, but several other batches need to be brewed first.

Scott said...

One of my biggest issues with kegging is getting the proper carbonation levels with Belgians. They never seem to be as crisp as the bottled version, even with my dual regulator set at 20 psi.

On a side not, MyLHBS says the French Saison strain is going to be year round.

Simon Huntley said...

Just brewed this yesterday! My family has a beach house for the month of July, so I've been madly brewing to get a supply of summer drinking beers. I think this is just the ticket.

Thanks for the idea and recipe.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Good luck, let me know how it turns out.

ReformedBrewer said...

Do you think this beer would benefit from a warm open fermentation? Like I previously mentioned, I was kinda of thinking about funking this up and thought 3-4 days open in indoor Florida ambient temperatures (74ish) would really create some amazing esters and possibly pick up some funk. Have you had any luck with open fermentation Thoughts?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Brewing is all about personal tastes. This is a pretty neutral recipe, a great place to play with your process to see if the flavors are what you want. That said, I think homebrewers probably overestimate the impact of fermentor geometry and the pressure from an airlock at our scale.

Bobby said...

Hi, I'm thinking about making this beer, but using Wakatu hops instead. Think that will turn out alright?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I haven't used Wakatu, but from the description it should be a bit more citrusy. Should still be delicious! Let me know how it turns out.