After sampling the most recently bottled batch of McKenzie's Saison Vautour while I was visiting the brewery, and getting some details on how it was made from the Ryan and Gerard (the brewers) I was inspired to brew something along the same lines. The mash for their saison is mostly pils, with a healthy portion of malted rye, and some table sugar in the kettle for improved fermentability. It starts fermenting in a conical fermenter with White Labs Saison II for a few days before it is pumped into a well used oak wine barrel to dance with the resident house bugs (souring doesn't take long, we got to sample the batch that was in the barrel and after just a few months it was about ready to bottle).
My friend Nate and I had been looking for something to brew together since we made a Munich (Malt) Porter about a year ago. He is a big fan of saisons that have a bit of a funk, especially The Bruery's Saison de Lente (which incidentally should be out again shortly if it isn't already), so he certainly liked the plan.
For the last few months the rollers on my five-year-old Barley Crusher mill had not been grabbing and feeding the grain through well (causing frequent stops and starts). To try to fix this I completely disassembled the mill to clean it for the first time since I bought it, but when I put it back together I must have tightened the rollers further than they had been (I really need to buy a feeler gauge set). As a result my efficiency for this batch jumped to 80% from my usual 70%. This was not a big deal since we had originally been planning on adding about 10% table sugar, luckily we checked the pre-boil gravity and skipped it.
I wanted to get the Farmhouse Saison blend from East Coast Yeast, but Princeton Homebrew was out by the time I stopped by. Instead I picked up the Saison Brasserie Blend "A combination of several Saison yeasts" and the Brett Blend #1 "Three individual Brettanomyces isolates from lambic producers". Usually I'm an advocate of adding Brett along with the brewer's yeast in primary fermentation, but for this beer I wanted a restrained funk (and Brett Blend #1 sounds like it imparts a lot of character). After pitching the yeast I placed the fermenter in my boil kettle and onto the radiator, at 82 F (wort temperature) it fermented hard and fast with a huge krausen. After it fermented out we racked to secondary and pitched the Brett. I'll give it a few months to dry out and get funky before we bottle it.
Bretted Rye Saison
Batch Size (Gal): 5.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 12.00
Anticipated OG: 1.069
Anticipated SRM: 4.5
Anticipated IBU: 34.1
Brewhouse Efficiency: 80 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes
75.0% - 9.00 lbs. German Pilsener
25.0% - 3.00 lbs. Rye Malt
1.50 oz. Styrian Goldings (Pellet, 4.95% AA) @ 60 min.
1.00 oz. Styrian Goldings (Pellet, 4.95% AA) @ 10 min.
0.50 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @15 min.
East Coast Yeast - Saison Brasserie Blend
East Coast Yeast - Brett Blend #1
Profile: Washington DC
Sacch Rest 75 min @ 150 F
Brewed 2/6/11 with Nate
Based loosely on McKenzie's Saison Vautour.
Slow sparge, but it didn't stick. Sparge water ~180 F.
Collected 7 gallons of 1.053 runnings. Originally planned to add ~10% sugar, but the gravity was already high enough from just the mash.
Chilled to 75 F, pitched the ECY Saison Brasserie right from the package. Put on radiator inside two kettles to keep the temp up and somewhat stable.
Blow-off tube going by the following morning. When I got home from work that day the fermentation had calmed down, I measured the wort temp at 82 F.
2/24/11 Down to 1.010, racked to secondary and pitched Al's Brett Blend #1 (beer tasted good but a bit more banana than I like is a saison, that ester should age/ferment out though). Left at cool room temp ~62 F.
5/1/11 Still around 1.008, still needs more time to attenuate.
9/25/11 Down to 1.004, close enough. Bottled with 4 oz of cane sugar.
12/8/11 Carbonation and more time turned this into a great rustic saison, full tasting notes.