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Hops for Saisons

I’m designing recipes for a couple of Saisons I plan to brew in the next couple of weeks. I’ll start with the base recipe for NB’s Petite Saison (ABV about 5.5%) and use the resulting yeast cake to make a 7% ABV Saison based on the Raison D’Saison recipe from “Brewing Classic Styles”. I’ve done both recipes before, both all grain, and had great results, but am looking to make them a bit more to my taste this go around.

My questions are about hops – what types of hops will give me the taste results I’m trying to achieve. I’ll likely use the bittering hops in the first recipes unless someone can convince me to do otherwise since it’s really the taste I’m trying to modify.

For the Petite Saison, I’d like a bit of tropical fruit taste without going overboard on the citrus. The kit recipe calls for Saaz and Styrian Goldings for flavoring, East Kent Goldings for bittering, and the same hops for aroma as for flavoring. I’m looking for ideas on modifying the flavor and aroma hops.

For the higher ABV Saison, I’m hoping to get something that tastes a bit more like the St. Fuillian (spelling?) Saison that comes in cans – a mellow bittering and an earthy, somewhat funky taste. The first one I made used Hallertauer for both bittering and aroma. It produced a nice, but fairly simple flavor, so I’d like to bring a bit more complexity to the taste and maybe get a “traditional” funky and less sharp bitterness hop character. Maybe first hop approach would be helpful?

For both beers I’ll be using the WY 3711, not the WY 3724 since I’m a bit intimidated by accounts I’ve read online about it stalling during fermentation. I used 3711 for my first beers and I liked the flavor – fermented quite warm into the 80s F.

Thanks for your help!

For fruity but not too citrusy tastes, some of the New Zealand hops (Nelson Sauvin, pacific jade) are nice if you can get them. For earthy you could go with fuggle or willamette, or Pacific Gem which is kind of woody/fruity.

Try bittering with a traditional european hop but using an oily american hop (amarillo, simcoe, cent) in your late hopping.

I have had a lot of success (many compliments from friends and beer judges) with sticking to that classic EKG for bittering, Styrian Goldings for flavor and aroma. My second choice would be Saaz. This combination works well with so many yeasts. I have tried 530, 550, 565, 566, and recently used 3711 and 3725. They all come out spicy, fruity and refreshing with just hops, malt, water and yeast. I mentioned White Labs yeasts, but have also used the Wyeast equivalents. This is not super fancy and does not use the latest fad hop, but it turns out tasty, and has the flavor profile you asked for. Back off of the Styrian Goldings for less citrus, and try Wl 530/Wy 3787 for complexity.

Thanks for the advise. I’ve had a change of heart and plan to make the higher ABV saison using WY 3724 since I’ve gotten some good ideas on how to deal with its quirkiness – I think it will contribute some of the classic saison flavor I’m looking for.

I’m also planning to use Styrian Aurora for flavoring and aroma additions at 15 and 2 minutes – half an ounce for each. I will use Hallertauer for 60 minutes for bittering. I have French Strisselspalt available as well and have considered using it with the Aurora and reducing the amounts of Aurora.

I chose Aurora based on the description of it giving a “powerful hoppy aroma” which seems to me to be the key in simulating the taste/aroma of St. Fuillien Saison. I don’t know a thing about the Strisselspalt other than that it’s frequently used for saisons. Supposedly, it imparts a black current flavor, but I’m not sure what that would be like in a beer.

And feedback on this? I’m a bit under the gun since I plan to brew tomorrow.


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