Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Saison New Zealan’ Tasting

Saison New Zealan’ is the spiritual and microbiological successor to Saison ‘Merican. It was hopped exclusively with varieties from the island (late additions of Motueka and Nelson Sauvin, with Rakau for bittering). In addition I added a bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon blanc directly to the keg to enhance the citrusy-terroir of the hops.

Saison New Zealan’

Appearance – It sure is a looker. The sunrise-yellow body is hazy, without appearing muddy. The white head is dense, prodigious, and sticky.

Smell – Despite the competing aromatics, the Nelson still leads with its distinctly divisive-pungent aroma. The Motueka and wine manage to soften it, sending it off on a somewhat citrusy tangent. The Brett (Trois and CB2) is mild, adding some fresh cut hay as well as mingling with the citrusy-funk of the Southern Hemisphere hops.

Taste – Saturated hop flavor that lives up to the nose. The grape(fruit)y wine comes through a bit more emphatically as well, assisted by the mild acidity from the Lactobacillus. The bitterness is just the right level to play with the lactic acid without clashing. The resulting balance is reminiscent of grapefruit juice cut with seltzer water, refreshing not bracing. The alcohol is present as it warms, but remains clean like a dry cocktail.

Mouthfeel – Light and crisp, firm carbonation, and downright refreshing for a beer above 7% ABV. A dangerous thing indeed!

Drinkability & Notes – I’ve said it before, but adding wines rather than wine grapes is the great option unless high quality grapes are easy to source. This is another win for my slowly developing mixed-house saison culture, when this keg kicks I’ll have to hang onto the lees to brew something else. Maybe continue the world tour with Hull Melon and German Riesling, or Galaxy and Australian Chardonnay?


  1. Hey Mike, Anoithergreat review.
    Living in NZ, We have access to some great hops and wines. Of course there are some wines as well, which have some flavours which would be complimentary to beers such as this.
    I actually bought a bottle of Marble Point Chardonnay, which has a big heavy oaky flavour, and actually reminiscent of a Chardonnay Barrelled Saison from 8wired brewing here. Some very similar characteristics. I'd even say some form of funky hay character.
    I was thinking of doing this recipe and usingthat wine, you reckon it would work well??

  2. Certainly sounds like a delicious combination, but I'd suggest doing what I did for this batch. When you are ready to keg or bottle, pull a sample of the beer and blend at various rates with the wine. See what ratio enhances the beer the most for your palate! Good luck, and report back!

  3. Do you have to worry about any residual sugar in the wine that the Brett would chew through, or would the wine already be at a terminal gravity?

  4. Most wines finish pretty close to 1.000. Even sweeter (good) wines often don't have much residual gravity (it doesn't take much mono- or disaccharide to make a wine taste sweeter than a beer high in dextrins). As only 5% of this blend even a very sweet wine at say 1.020 would only add .001 to the final gravity, enough to raise the target carbonation by .5 volumes. In my case being kegged I wasn't worried much either way

  5. sounds delicious. what did the pH end up on the beer? I'm curious where the acidity landed with only a 6 hour head start...

    Do you notice any aromatic differences when leaving the lacto to naturally stall due to IBU/ no food versus when it is boiled and then fermented exclusively with yeast? I have been getting some almost berliner type character from some beers using brevis in conjunction lately... what I was really looking for (in this case a grist) is some sharp clean acidity without muddling the saison...

  6. Cheers Mike. I have some WLP500 due to come out of the FV laterthis week, and wondered if I could use this as a sub for the blend from I'm not sure how this would affect things, I realise there'd be a different flavour characteristic, but would this be suitable? Just trying to save some money as liquid yeast is very expensive here.

  7. I tend to rely on my tongue for final acidity. I think measured pH is essential for brewing, but in the end what really matters is what the beer tastes like. In this case lightly tart was all I was aiming for given the IBUs. I've gotten very sour beers pitching Lacto and Sacch together, it just requires the right Lacto and low bitterness. As long as the pH isn't too low for the Sacch, there shouldn't be much difference resulting from the timing.

    I find the Chimay strain to be one of the fruitier (banana specifically) Belgian strains I've worked with. I think that could work, but it might be fruit on fruit on fruit. If you are pitching Brett it'll eventually breakdown some of the isoamyl acetate, but by then the hops will be muted. I'd say you are better off with a spicier strain, dried is fine (T-58, Belle Saison etc.)

  8. Is there any reason I should be concerned about sulfites/preservatives in the wine if I plan on bottle conditioning a similar beer? I'm using Wyeast 3711 which I understand to be a beast.

  9. At less than 4% of the blend, the wine will be too dilute for any sulfites to cause issues. Let me know how it goes!

  10. This recipe is awesome. I have brew many of yours and Drew Beecham clean Saison recipes and now wonder why I was scared of using Brett for so long. I had Boulvard Brett Saison and had trouble with the fecal aroma despite a good tasting saison. I brewed this recipe once and split the batch with and without Brett C while both batches getting Wyeast 3711 French Saison also. The Brett version tasted better and had way better longevity. The Brett version had 6 months of bright crisp flavor with no hop or malt oxidation taste. The no Brett version tasted like a Saison with wine in it while the Brett version was harmonious melding of grape, gooseberry, lime and lemon grass. My best saison brewed to date. Will re-brew several times. I am re-brewing today splitting the batch between Saisonstien's Monster and Wyeast 3711 French Saison with both getting Brett C from White Labs all added at the start of fermentation. Mike whats your favorite Saison sacc yeast and which version for Brett do you like best for Saisons? Have you experience Brett beers having better Longevity? Would you be afraid of using Brett beer corny kegs for clean beers after a thorough cleaning and sanitizing of the keg and beer lines? I use PBW and Starsan. Should I use Idophor or boiling water for a Brett sanitizer?

  11. Cheers glad you found a Brett that suits you! Just kegged a new iteration of this one with Nelson Sauvin and thyme honey we bought at the Nelson farmer's market!

    Brett is fantastic at scavenging oxygen, which is what lends the curious long life to Brett IPAs and saisons.

    My house saison blend is my favorite combo of Brett and Sacch. Still going strong three years later, and occassionally available from Bootleg Biology. Otherwise I tend to go for variety. I enjoyed Omega C2C and Wyeast Saison Brett in hoppy saisons. Really depends on the beer and what I'm looking for.

    For absolute safety I have a dedicated tap line and kegs for my sour and funky beers. Certainly recirculating PBW (beer line cleaner if that doesn't make your lines clear) is a good start. Either StarSan or Iodophor should be fine to sanitize. The problem with lines and kegs is that there are so many little places for a few cells to hide.