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Is Saison Yeast: Is It Just A Myth?

I came across the follow article and thought it might be of interest to some of the brewers on here:

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Thank you for posting… The descriptors mentioned seems to correlate with what little I know about Saison’s…
Sneezles61

I dont know if its actually a myth of course you can use different yeasts. Just like you can do with other styles and yeasts. My saison and weissbier are almost the exact recipe with different yeasts

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Exactly…. An amber lager vs an amber ale. Cream ale vs a Pilsner. Many recipes are very similar with the exception of the yeast.

He’s kind of got a point – I generally agree with the author that historically, most saisons would have been well attenuated, and phenolic from the Brett in the barrels. That’s about the extent of what a saison was, historically. They may or may not have been sour… but many/most probably were. But traditionally, the pitching yeast didn’t matter. Only the weird critters and barrel character did.

Both historically and today, “saison” is about as much a “style” as “lager” is a “style”. The boundaries are super broad. Keep in mind, the Belgians don’t really care about “styles”, as much as they care about quality and “drinkability”. Give me some wort, and I can throw some weird enough critters at it to call it a “saison” if I wanted to. Or cheat and add amylase or Beano (but I wouldn’t actually do that unless strongly coerced).

Genetically, all of the commercial saison yeasts are closely related derivatives of WINE yeasts. Which makes a lot of sense, given that a lot of saisons over the years were no doubt aged in old wine barrels. They have their own branch on the genetic tree, side by side with wine yeasts, but far away from any other beer yeasts.

So… is it a myth? Yes and no. Both. I do feel like I could make a “saison” from ANY yeast… as long as I could ALSO add Brett or something wild to it as well.

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A great read. I have been using all sorts of yeasts outside the realm of the original line to make POF+ beers. So while he’s right that sticking to the two original lines of yeast is problematic, the title of this article is even more problematic given his thesis… because it all comes down to the yeast, whatever that yeast is, to get the descriptors.
My favorite Saison was made from yeast used to ferment cocoa btw

You’re welcome. My main takeaway from the article is that it is the qualities of the beer (Saison in the case) are primary, ingredients and method are secondary. In other words if someone figured out how to make a Pilsner using US-05 fermented at ale temps and nail all the descriptors it would still be a Pilsner.

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I agree with how the method/process aligns it to its origins… But the yeast… I think that is hand in hand with it also…
I keep reading, and in this article as well, about the yeast being more from the wild side (Saison)… or closer to it than the yeasts we use more often… And as a home brewer… we tweak ingredients to our likings… So we stray, then wander back to replicating through the precess… We can only go by what info we read about a brew…
Then my mind thinks “I really wonder HOW a brew was 200 years ago”? Have we diluted the actual brew… or lost the palate for “old world” styles… I believe thats very evident since prohibition was amended and the general beer drinkers started consuming the very light, fizzy brews… And some brew styles about fell off the face of the world…
Somewhere, a small pocket of beer drinkers were drinking this “odd” beer… “What is it”? Then the journey to brew it began… How close, or far from the actual brew? I doubt we’ll not be knowing… but conjure up an imagination of it… And I’ll drink to that! :grin:
Sneezles61

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Yeast is an ingredient though, the most important ingredient without it we would be drinking sugar water😜

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Yeast is the most important ingredient? I disagree. Without wort there would be nothing to ferment. Granted in some styles yeast plays a more prominent role, but grain, water, and yeast are all required to make beer. How can one be more important than the others?

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Yes. However. Wort with no yeast will not become alcohol. Yeast with ANY sugar source will produce alcohol.

Yes but if yeast is everywhere so wort will ferment into beer regardless of adding it

Awww takes me back to my college philosophy class. I always wanted to stand up and say, “who gives a $hi+?!?”

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:rofl:

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