Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Alsatian Funky Saison Tasting

I flavored this Alsatian Saison recipe with German hops (Hull Melon, and Hallertau Blanc) and French wine (Maison Trimbach Gewurztraminer). It was the third batch fermented with my "house" funky saison culture. I'm really happy with the way the blend of microbes is working together, despite my abuse (harvesting from the kicked keg). This batch did have sulfurous edge after keg conditioning, but venting the head space a couple times over a few days fixed that.

Not sure of the next stop for my house saison culture - I'm quickly running out of regions that produce both interesting hops and wine grapes. Maybe back to America, with a red wine, or an English saison with a touch of gin?

Alsatian Funky Saison

Appearance – Foggy pale yellow beer with a stiff white head, decent retention, and nice lacing. A nice rustic look, glowing despite the clouds and light summer rain.

Risked my camera out in the rain for this shot of my Alsatian Saison!Smell – More vinous than the New Zealand Saison, thanks to a more winey-wine, and grape notes from the Hallertau Blanc. Mineral-funkier as well; luckily the sulfur is completely gone. Balanced, not a big nose, but very pleasant. Not assertively hoppy after 10 weeks in the keg.

Taste – Wine-forward, good white wine, no white grape juice. Dry, without being a desiccant. Finishes crisp and bright, lemons and farmyard. Lingering on the funk keeps it from being really refreshing though.

Mouthfeel – Smooth lean mouthfeel, prickly carbonation. Lively and crisp without being watery or tannic.

Drinkability & Notes – The “new” German hops provide nice flavors and aroma, but they aren’t turned up the way American and New Zealand hops are. Still a nice wine-saison-funk hybrid, a pleasant moderate-alcohol variant for summertime consumption.


  1. Regarding regions with interesting wines and grapes, I may have missed it, but have you tried Argentina? Argentinian Viogner and Cascade could be really good.

  2. I've been underwhelmed by the beers I've tried with Argentine Cascades, haven't brewed with them yet.

    I'd be interested in doing South Africa, but haven't found a source for Southern Passion.

  3. That's what I've heard about A. Cascades - they're completely different from American and they have to be used differently.

    I think part of the issue is that the AA is only 3.5ish% - like Hallertau, better for a heavy flavor addition around 30-15 min rather than a hop stand/dry hop, to get the lemon-pepper it's described as having.

    Odell's/La Cumbre did a Southern Passion collab., maybe you can reach out to one of them for a source?

  4. Could go with an all NY brew. Can get really good wines, red or white, along with good hops in the Finger Lakes region. There are plenty of wineries that are willing to donate some grapes or pressed juice and a growing number of hop farms all over.

  5. There's always English wine... Some English whites have been getting quite decent reviews.

  6. I can get you some Ontario, Canada grown hops easily enough, although you should wait until after harvest in sept for the fresher stuff. We actually have a wild indigenous hop that one farm has been cultivating.

    As for wine, we do make some of the worlds best icewine, it's super sweet, and harvested at a very high brix, but it's very tasty stuff.

  7. Maybe try some fruit (country) wines... We do an amazing strawberry that we have added to a blonde ale, and have made several flower and fruit wines that would make nice additions to a funky brew! Check out Jack Keller's site for some really crazy wine recipes!

  8. I was going to suggest South African as your best bet.

    As far as England seek out for Olicana hops.

    You could try Japan with JP sourced Sorachi Ace and a nice fruity daiginjo.

  9. English and Welsh white and sparkling wines are doing well. Or you could use Perry or plum wine!


  11. I'd recommend South Africa aswell, lots of interesting hops and wine coming from there. They've really moved forward from the old over-oaked Syrahs and popcorn Chardonnays that were so profilic a few years ago.

  12. English saison with a touch of gin sounds surreal but nice, to quote Hugh Grant.

  13. I'm keen to see you try something with some famous Australian Redwine, Maybe Syrah. They do some really awesome ones overthere.

    also, if you ever do the NZ one again, try out Torlesse Sauvignon Blanc. Just superb. Big Fruits and really refreshing.

  14. Cheers! Let me know how yours goes. I've been meaning to do one of these with a red.

  15. Very late reply here, but i think I'm gonna try this out Tasmanian (Australia) product. Frogmore Creek do a Riesling with 40 grams residual sugar, and then I'll go for galaxy & vic secret hops along with a standard high mash temp, wheat+chit+pils+vienna base.

    Then Gigayeast GB145 Brux Blend in primary and wait a while, probably add the wine around day 7 of primary ferment at 23C