Thursday, April 18, 2013

Modern Times Lomaland Saison #2 Tasting

Wyeast 3711 French Saison is simultaneously maligned and celebrated. It is probably the easiest saison strain to work with, fermenting rapidly and completely regardless of wort fermentability and fermentation temperature. However, it can be over-attenuative, and the flavor tends to be fruitier than the Belgian saison strains. For this beer (my second test batch of Modern Times Lomaland) I kept the temperature lower than I would for something like Saison I, and I avoided stressing the yeast (I didn’t under-pitch or under-aerate).

Not saying that Modern Times definitely will or won't use WY3711 for Lomaland, the West Coast division had great luck with the Dupont strain, and is also putting a blend of White Labs Saison II and Saison III through its paces. Our Kickstarter campaign is down to less than two weeks. There are still two brew days with me available on the Modern Times pilot system, and just seven  League of Partygoers & Elegant People memberships (your best shot at drinking my first batches of commercial sour beer)!

A glass of my second test batch of Modern Times' Lomaland Saison. Given that it is mostly Pilsner malt and Saaz hops, appropriate that I'm drinking it from a Pilsner Urquell glass!Lomaland Batch #2

Appearance – Hazy golden-yellow body with a stiff white head on top. Good retention and excellent lacing. Certainly looks like a saison.

Smell – Solid yeast presence, fresh bread dough, and white pepper. Some fruit, but the restrained fermentation temperature kept it from being a fruit-bomb in the way 3711 sometimes is. The classic Saaz hop herbal-spice comes through complementarily.

Taste – Dry, but not desiccating. The yeast, especially the pepper carries through the flavor. Very fresh tasting, Solid bitterness in the finish, but it isn’t rough or harsh. The lingering flavor is yeasty/doughy/wheaty. Slight tartness. Not hugely complex, but it has all the elements I want in a saison.

Mouthfeel – The body isn’t as thin as you’d expect, but it isn’t thick by any stretch of the imagination. Solid carbonation, but I would expect more from a bottled (or canned) saison.

Drinkability & Notes – For such a simple recipe this beer has a lot going on. The nose could be a bit more complex, but considering the moderate gravity and mono-culture fermentation it is hard to complain too much. I’m excited to see how the half of the batch that was bottled with Brett turns out!


  1. I've always been on the love side of 3711; I find the fruit flavors--especially the cherry you can get when it is stressed--to be enjoyable and pleasant. While the over-attenuative nature of the yeast can present some issues (specifically over-carbonating from bottling too early--it often gets to brett levels of attenuation in the 1.000-1.004 range), it does make for a damn fine dry beer, especially along the lines of brett beers. A gentler crystal malt like Dingemanns Cara 8 can provide some residual body without a lot of sweetness, and some oats can also help in this regard.

  2. The attenuation is impressive with the strain. The rye saison, which I based on your recipe, and completely blew my mash temp well into the 158ish, had no impact on it's ability to get the beer from 1058 to 1004 in a little over a week. I didn't even have to put they yeast under much heat to get there, maxing out at 74.
    I'm sure my next batches of saison I'll be trying an alternate strain, something a little less aggressive, with the idea of managing the fermentation via temp and feeding of simple sugars, and actually hitting my mash temp..
    If 3711 isn't your desired strain, what do you prefer?
    I hear saison III isn't as picky as saison 1 or 2, but I don't know how attenuative it is.

  3. I really don't have a single favorite saison strain. I enjoyed Saison III in the previous incarnation of this recipe (~90% AA mashed at 147F). Strain selection really depends on what I'm brewing and what the constraints are (like asking what my favorite hop is).

  4. Is that another IKEA glass? Love the shape...

  5. Not this one, I won it in at a Pilsner Urquell homebrewing contest for this batch. I think they gave me four glasses for advancing to the second round, but they were surprisingly delicate and over about a year I broke all but one. The heavy base made drying them upside down a real hazard. I really need to buy more cool glasses so I don't just cycle through the same 10 or so.

  6. I'm curious; how do you achieve temperature control during fermentation? It's the one thing I haven't really invested in. I have a keezer to do cold crashing but nothing that I can fine tune to specific degrees for actual fermentation. I've heard of people putting their carboys in buckets of water and using a cheap aquarium thermometer.

  7. I use ambient fermentation as much as I can. To heat I have a heating pad, and I'll place fermentors near/on my radiators in the winter. To cool I've got temperature controllers attached to a fridge and an air conditioner in my cold/barrel room in the basement. Never dealt with aquarium water heaters, but seems like a good method.

  8. I have a converted ice chest freezer with a Johnson control override but i'm not sure if it can work at temperatures around 68-74. I normally just set it and forget it assuming my basement is a constant 70 degrees, but some of these advanced recipes say to start a fermentation at 68 and raise it to 72 the last 2 days of fermentation to coax flavors out of the yeast. I want to do that, but its tricky figuring out how to have such pinpoint control over your temperatures. Ive seen heating pads for carboys and buckets but they arent very precise. Meaning, you cant dial in a temperature and leave it alone.