Monday, February 11, 2013

Brew Day: Fruit Saison

Nearly four months ago, I bought a single vial of WhiteLabs Saison III on a whim, probably thinking that I'd use it to make a petite saison or something similar. Looking back, I really don't know what made me want to buy this yeast, especially since saisons are one of the few beer styles that I have very little interest in brewing or drinking. It is not that I dislike the flavor of saisons, it's just that I haven't come across a non-soured example of the style that has particularly impressed me. That is, until recently.

A few days ago, I had the great opportunity to attend a small saison tasting that included a number of popular commercial examples, including a few bottles from Hill Farmstead, Stillwater, and Cigar City among others. While the "worlds best brewery*" garnered the most 'oohs and ahhs' from the group, I was really impressed by Cigar City's Guava Grove, a saison that is brewed with guava puree. Interestingly, while this was one of the least popular beers at the tasting, I loved it. It had an assertive tartness that the other beers lacked and a pleasant tropical fruit flavor that was well balanced by the malt and yeast. I only wish it was a few percent less in alcohol. With this beer in mind, I would like to try my hand at making something similar and use up my Saison III yeast in the process.

The recipe I am using is simple, just pilsner and white wheat malt, with saaz hops for a mellow bitterness. From what little I could find about the Saison III yeast, it seems this strain is known to produce a fair amount of tartness and high fruity esters. I figure I'll see how the beer tastes once fermentation is complete and then decide if I want to keg it as is, or rack it onto some guava puree like the Cigar City brew. Moreover, whereas saisons are noted to be brewed from rather hard water, usually with a good bit of sulfate, I decided to go more towards the soft and malty side, as I did with my recent Patersbier. I pitched the (decanted) yeast starter at 65F and have it currently fermenting around 68-72F. This yeast is one heck of a fast fermenter... it got rolling within 5 hours of pitching!

Guava Saison : Belgian Saison

Recipe Specifics: 
Batch Size (Gal): 4.0
Total Grain (Lbs): 7.5
Anticipated OG: 1.048 
Anticipated FG: 1.003-5
Anticipated SRM: 3.5
Anticipated IBU: 22
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

93.3% - 7.00 lbs. Pilsner malt
6.7% - 0.50 lbs. White wheat malt

1.00 oz. Saaz @ 60 min for 18 IBU
0.50 oz. Saaz @ 15 min for 4 IBU
1.00 oz. Saaz @ flameout

Yeast: WhiteLabs Saison III
Mash 150F for 75 min
Brewed on 10 February
* Hill Farmstead, according to RateBeer


  1. How did you grow up your yeast from such an old vial? Did you use a single starter or multiple steps?

    1. I used to a large, two step starter. Even for the yeast being so old, I probably didn't even need to step up the starter, given how quickly it fermented out. As the beer sits now, less than two days later, the yeast is already flocculating! Never seen a yeast ferment a beer so quickly.

  2. Did you end up racking onto the Guava puree? If so, how much puree did you use? Thanks!

    1. I didn't end up using the guava puree and instead used the pulp from two passionfruits. The resulting beer turned out fine, certainly interesting, but probably not something I'd do again. Still would like to try using guava though.


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