Monday, March 7, 2011

Rye Saison with Brett

Nate giving the Brett Blend #1 a shake before pitching it into the wort.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.

Pitching the Brett into the Rye Saison.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

Recipe Specifics
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

Water Profile
Profile: Washington DC

Mash Schedule
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.


Unknown said...

When I had Saison Vautour, it was very similar to Fantome Saison. Are you going for the same lacto character as that or are you just going to leave it at Brett. and call it a day?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Just going with the Brett, I had considered using the dregs from the bottle of it I still have, but decided against it (not doing any oak either).

jaymo said...

I just brewed up 10 gallons of saison too. Almost the same exat recipe, except wheat rather than rye, and almost all Saaz hops. (same amounts, plus a late addition.)

I just got a bunch of rye from a bulk grain order, so a rye saison is next on the list.

Have you tried Al's Saison w/ brett yet? I'm looking forward to trying that Fantome brett in that blend when my friend gets some of his slurry to me!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Sounds tasty, I really like Saaz in saisons. We're considering giving this a small European dry hop right before bottling to give it a bit of hop aroma.

Wish I got my hands on the Farmhouse Brett (I'm hoping to get some of the ECY Flanders Red slurry from a friend).

Dan said...

Good looking recipe, I plan on brewing pretty much the same thing this weekend after reading your post, sounds like a great spring/summer beer. I'll probably add a little flaked rye as well, I can't get enough rye in my beers, and I have a bunch of US goldings which should work fine. I have the Farmhouse Brett from ECY, so I'll primary with that and add my brett blend in secondary if it isn't funky enough at racking. Planning on a 10g batch, half will go into a keg immediately, half into an oak barrel for a few months to start innoculating the thus-far clean barrel with bugs.

Thanks for the recipe.

jaymo said...

I usually dry hop with an oz of Saaz as well. It tends to accent the spiciness from 3711. This time I may leave it out though since I added an extra ounce of Crystal pellets I had sitting around at flameout. In general though, a European dry hop is nice in my opinion. I think you'll be happy with it.

I've got some of the Flemish blend in the fridge! I've gotta do a barrel brew this weekend, but the following will be Flanders brewday. I'm going with the same recipe I used on New Years with Bugfarm4. It'll be interesting to compare the 2 later, where the only difference is a few months and bug blend.

Marco Aurélio Piacentini said...

I really envy those who can get real saison yeast...

Well... if you remember my pseudo-saison experience with the Fermentis T-58, I must tell that it almost succeeded...

The outcome was good: I obtained a very easy drinking beer, although ABV is 7%. Despite this, the high temp fermentation resulted in too much banana / bubble gum flavors.

The hops used really delivered the expected citric flavor, but in the next batch I shall reduce the amount of sugar from 750g (16%) to something around 500g (10%).

Well... I hope your funky Saison get better than mine!


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I just used T-58 in a sour amber with some buckwheat. It seemed to be about done fermenting after just 72 hours. Kept temps in the high 60s, so hopefully it isn’t too fruity.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Here are Al's (East Coast Yeast) suggestions:

"An easy thing to do is periodically decant off "old" starter media from the sediment and add fresh media w/ plenty of nutrients added - say every other month or so. Refrigerate afterwards until ready to use. What will happen over a couple of years is anyone's guess."

Dan said...

Brewed 11 gallons of this up this weekend, doubled your recipe and added an additional 1# of unmalted flaked rye. Had a hell of an issue with stuck sparges even after adding a pound of rice hulls, I need to replace the braided filter in my mash tun before the next brew session for sure. Missed the OG by a lot, at 1.055 now, likely due to bad sparging, my efficiency is usually very high, will probably boil ~3# corn sugar in water and add that a couple days into the fermentation.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I just had a similarly unpleasant sparge last weekend with 2 lbs of buckwheat. It took close to 90 minutes to collect the wort including stirring to resuspend the grain bed and multiple additions of rice hulls. The sugar should be is a fine addition that was our original plan anyway (although it would be tasty at the lower gravity as well).

Big City Brewer said...

I just made a saison last Saturday with 9# of Pilsner and 3# of Rye, using Wyeast's French Saison yeast. I wish I had come across this post before! You have inspired me to throw in the dregs of some brett bottles when I move the beer to a secondary.

After collecting 6 gallons, my mash still had enough sugar that I could still make 3 gallons of a table beer at 1.030 at the same time. Do you have any experience with low gravity rye beers?

Given your initial tasting of your beer, would you ferment this recipe at a lower temperature next time to keep the esters in check?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

The fruitiness was chased off by the Brett pretty quickly, for most saison strains those temps wouldn’t be an issue. I just pulled a sample of the beer and it tastes great, but at ~1.008 it is still too sweet for me to bottle safely.

I've used rye in a couple low gravity beers (a 100% Brett A petite saison and a dark mild), but nothing that small. Shouldn’t be a problem, nice to add some extra complexity to a table beer.

I just did a second runnings lager over the weekend that got up to 1.042.

Good luck on both of your batches.

Anonymous said...

Is this puppy still in secondary? If so how long do you plan to condition it? Thanks.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

We almost bottled it a couple weeks ago, but with a gravity still at 1.010 so I wanted to give it another month to see if it would drop lower. I thought the flavor was great, nice mix of pepper and funk. Hopefully it will be ready to bottle soon.

ReverendTenHigh said...

What did you mash this at?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

150 F for 75 minutes with a ratio of 1.17 quarts of water per pound.

Planning on brewing it?

ReverendTenHigh said...

Yes, actually, I am. It has been in the works for a while but I finally have some brett and a day off to brew so tomorrow morning, I'm going at it. Anything to add? :)

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Good luck! Is all I've got.

We're finally bottling tonight, coincidence.

John said...

Will you be reyeasting for the bottles? If so, what yeast will you be using?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

We did not reyeast when we bottled. If you want to pitch either more of the Brett or more of the primary strain would be the safest bet, although anything alcohol tolerant and flocculant will get the job done.

Brian Zen said...

Long time reader, first time poster. I just snagged some ECY-03 and ECY-08 a week ago. I already have used 1/2 the ECY-08 on a Pumpkin Saison. I am seriously considering the Rye Saison for the ECY-03. I might also split the ECY-03 and do 1/2 Rye and 1/2 traditional. Depends on fermentor and kegging space.
Keep on doing what your doing.


Anonymous said...

How did this batch turn out after two months in the bottles? Any changes you might make in the recipe? E.g., I see you suggested 145*F maash temp in BYO article.
THANKS. Brewing soon.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I'm pretty happy with where this batch is right now. You certainly could cool the mash off a couple degrees to lighten it up a bit and reduce the funk, but as a stronger saison I don't necessarily want it at 1.000.

Anonymous said...

I would like to brew this. If you had to use White labs or Wyeast, which strains would you choose?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

McKenzie's uses Saison II from White Labs (566). If you don't mind buying two strains you could do Brett C and B. Or just go Brett C and toss in the dregs from a bottle of Orval or another beer with a funkier Brett. Let me know how it turns out!

Anonymous said...

Brewed this from the BYO article, using WLP670 (combo sacch and bret). OG 58. After three weeks at 72% SG is 1.007 = 88% ADF. pH is 4.0. Lactic acid taste is strong with little or no brett funk.

Q: At this point would you recommend:
a)racking to secondary and adding dregs from something else,
b)racking to secondary and waiting for further drop in gravity (seems like brett will take the pH down substantially further,
c) leave in primary and wait for more funk to develop,
Thanks Mike. You've gotten a lot of us started down this trail. I now have 6 sours in fermentation due to your example.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Brett certainly needs a few months, luckily it doesn't need much gravity. Surprised that at a pH of 4 it is so sour, many "clean" beers finish in the low 4s. Brett really won't make much acid on its own (unless exposed to oxygen), if you want more acidity you will need dregs or a culture of lactic acid bacteria.

Racking is up to you. I like to rack for a mellower Brett character. Aging in primary on the yeast helps the Brett make a funkier more rustic character that lambics are known for.

So up to you, all depends on what you are aiming for. Good luck on all the sours!

MilesMcL said...

Did a slightly lower alcohol version of this (1.050 with sugar) and fermented with WLP 565. 9 days in I am at 1.006. OK to transfer to secondary and add brett?


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

No hurry, but you can certainly rack now if you don't mind bringing some yeast over with it.

Unknown said...

one thing i don't understand it's the choice of going with late hop charges in beers i know that i will go aging for so many months. Is it something that has come through in the flavor with some evidence when you have tasted it almost one year after? It's not preferable going with dry hopping at the end of secondary?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

McKenzie's Saison Vautou calls for a small charge of Hallertau Tradition at 15 minutes. It isn't something I'd usually do, but certainly won't hurt. Impossible for me to say if any of the compounds contributed by that late addition carried through in some modified form to the finished beer. It certainly isn't overtly hoppy, and McKenzie's has produced some dry-hopped variants of the beer.

Recently had my second to last bottle of the version with Dark Saison 4 dregs, turned out to be one of my favorite few homebrewers. Has that great lemon and mineral thing with just the right level of funkiness for my palate.

Unknown said...

I used the same grist as this Rye Saison recipe. Subbed out the yeast with White Labs WLP645 Brettanomyces Claussenii and WLP590 French Saison Ale Yeast and put both in at once in the primary. 70 F for four days then ramped up to 75 F. I was thinking to wait at least 4 weeks and see how the fermentation is progressing. It seems you waited much longer like 7 months before bottling. I seen you use shorter time for Saison Yeast and Brett fermentation in other recipes like New Zealand Saison flavored with NZ wine. That was fermented only 3 weeks before bottling. Why and what is your thoughts or goals on these two very different approaches to Saison yeast with Brett?

On a side note your New Zealand Saison Recipe turnout to be my best Saison I ever brewed. I split a five gallon batch with one getting NZ Sauvignon Blanc wine Wyeast PC3031 French Saison and Brett C while the other got Wyeast 3711 and NZ SB wine. The Brett version was way better. The brett seemed to meld the flavors together seemlessily while the none brett version was okay but the beer and wine flavors were two separate flavors and not as harmoniously supporting each other. The wine was added at bottling 1 in 20 wine to beer ratio. I bottled the non brett beer 4 weeks after brew day and the brett version 8 weeks after brew day. The Brett version also had a way better shelf life. The non brett version flavor started to fall off after 10 weeks were as the brett version held up for 6 months. Plan to use brett in most of my Saisons. Better taste and Shelf life. I been using Brett C to avoid too much funk. Blvd Brewing Brett Saison can get a poopy smell (taste is fine but the smell still is off putting)after a year I am trying to avoid.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

This beer didn't have much in terms of hop aromatics, so I wasn't in a hurry. I was also bottling this, so I had to be certain fermentation really was complete. For the NZ Saison, I was kegging so the Brett didn't have to be totally done. Lots of options depending on your goals!