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Looking for suggestions for Belgian Farm House Saison Spices

Hi everyone,

I’m a rookie homebrewer who is preparing to do my second all grain brew soon. Since my Mom is very sensitive to preservatives and she can’t drink most comercially bottled beers because of that, I wanted to brew something for her using all organic ingredients.

So I went with a Seven Bridges Organic Belgian Farm House Saison kit:

http://www.breworganic.com/organicbelgi ... grain.aspx

I went with the Wyeast 3711 French Saison Liquid Yeast as well.

What I liked about the idea of brewing this recipe is the fact that they recommend adding spices, but they don’t include them.

To give you an idea of my tastes I would like to add flavor to it without making it to “clovey” in taste. Ginger root like they suggested sounds interesting but I guess I don’t have any particular ideas beyond that.

So I’d love to get some advice on spices to add to this. Especially when it comes to how much to use, and when to add them whether that would be during my boil or during fermentation.

So what would you guys recommend?

Traditionally, saisons are not brewed using spices; they get their spicy character from the yeast strains used. If you did want to add something, coriander seeds, grains of paradise, black pepper corns and orange zest are the first things that come to mind. But if you add spices, add only tiny amount. It is very easy for spices to overwhelm a beer, and because spices vary so much based on freshness and source, it is hard to estimate exactly how much to use.

Also, spices should be added no more that 5 minutes before the end of the boil. Otherwise, all the aroma will boil away.

Hi, forgot to add: welcome to a great hobby.

With regards to your mom, that is strange. Most commercial beers don’t have artificial preservatives. One of the reasons beer became such a widespread drink is that it is microbiologically safe and stable without preservatives. Actually, they have only one preservative: hops. Hopefully your mom is not sensitive to those…

Hi, forgot to add: welcome to a great hobby.

With regards to your mom, that is strange. Most commercial beers don’t have artificial preservatives. One of the reasons beer became such a widespread drink is that it is microbiologically safe and stable without preservatives. Actually, they have only one preservative: hops. Hopefully your mom is not sensitive to those…[/quote]

To be honest I think she is a bit over board with it as she claims that she can just smell an open beer and tell whether or not it will bother her. The main thing she has trouble with is sulfates, but I think it may have more to do with how grains, etc have been stored and potential interaction with cleaners, etc.

The best example being that she visited a rather small microbrew recently (it was literally in an old convenience store to give you an idea of the size of the operation!) and they had several bags of their grains lining the walls in the tasting room. She said the beer bothered her even though it was a micro brew (and likely relatively fresh compared to a Bud Light for example) and she speculated that maybe it was the way that the grains were stored. figure that in that environment they may have absorbed some degree of cleaning chemicals, perfumes, etc that were airborne in the environment.

I’m not aware of how Seven Grains runs their operations, but if it’s anything similar to an article I read about organic restaurants, the standards and methods for cleaning and sanitizing may make a difference for her in that regard. The article I read stated that there was an entire protocol for how the truck delivering tomatoes to the restaurant had to be cleaned with biodegradeable cleaners, and sanitized, etc. before the tomatoes could be transported in it! So for that reason I’m trying an Organic certified brew. Who knows, maybe even the Star San I’m sanitizing with will bother her, but it’s worth a shot.

I doubt it will convince her, but the majority of people who suffer from sensitivity to sulfites are actually responding to some other compound or are imagining it.

http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/su ... ensitivity

Does she eat dried fruit (such as golden raisins) without suffering an attack? If yes, she doesn’t have a problem with sulfites. Sulfites are never added to beer (it is not an effective preservative at beer pH levels), and are not used as preservatives in any of the ingredients, though it is sometimes used to remove chloramines from the water used to make beer. Yeast naturally produce sulfites at very low levels. If she is sensitive to that, then it won’t matter what ingredients you use.

But good luck with the brewing, and hope you make some beer you can both enjoy!

You definitely do not need spices with that yeast. I could not see the recipe you linked, but I suggest that yeast with Styrian Golding hops will give you plenty of spice and citrus character. I fermented mine at 68 for a couple of days, and then let it rise to 78 for about 7 more days. It came out nice. Other hops will probably work fine too, these are just the ones I always use as finish hops in a Saison or Blond ale. Good luck with your brew.

[quote=“rebuiltcellars”]I doubt it will convince her, but the majority of people who suffer from sensitivity to sulfites are actually responding to some other compound or are imagining it.

http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/su ... ensitivity

Does she eat dried fruit (such as golden raisins) without suffering an attack? If yes, she doesn’t have a problem with sulfites. Sulfites are never added to beer (it is not an effective preservative at beer pH levels), and are not used as preservatives in any of the ingredients, though it is sometimes used to remove chloramines from the water used to make beer. Yeast naturally produce sulfites at very low levels. If she is sensitive to that, then it won’t matter what ingredients you use.

But good luck with the brewing, and hope you make some beer you can both enjoy![/quote]

I think you are right on the money with the notion that she could be imagining it. Frankly I wonder how much of it is just that vs. a real allergen that she is finding in the food or beer, etc. She claims that she can tell if she will be allergic to something simply by smelling it.

She doesn’t have an anaphylactic response to it though. I honestly wonder how much of this is a mental thing that causes her anxiety over something effecting her, but it is what it is. She’s seeing an allergist that has seemed to help over time.

So anyway, I’m hoping that I can at least make her some beer that she can drink. For whatever reason she seems to have been able to drink whatever organic beers that I have found for her and there are some mass distributed brands like Stella Artois and Hoegarden that don’t bother her.

It’s very nice that you’re trying to work with her on this.

I would like to point out that there is a difference between psychosomatic and “imagining it.” Psychosomatic is like a self-inflicted placebo effect; Real, measurable effects can be caused by non-real influence. Mind-over-matter working against you.

It would help to get a bit more analytic about what she smells. If you know the major brands that she suspects you might be able to get to Beer Advocate or other review sites, where there are reviewers that note the aromas. Maybe it’s a specific hop or something in maltier aromas, biscuit, or toast…

The other thing is, while I’m sure she’s wrong about the smell thing; there are certain beers that give me more or less “after-effects” than others. I don’t think it’s preservatives, because I’ve gotten it from home-brew; I don’t thing its yeast, because I’ve gotten it from filtered commercial brew. It happens more when I’m on business travel (of course) so I tend to think, for me, it’s more of a combination of factors, like fatty foods + beer + stress. If whatever she smells causes her to stress about the onset of effects, then there’s that beer+stress combination…

Finally, maybe beer just isn’t her drink. Maybe get a chardonnay kit next time…

[quote=“JMcK”]It’s very nice that you’re trying to work with her on this.

I would like to point out that there is a difference between psychosomatic and “imagining it.” Psychosomatic is like a self-inflicted placebo effect; Real, measurable effects can be caused by non-real influence. Mind-over-matter working against you.

It would help to get a bit more analytic about what she smells. If you know the major brands that she suspects you might be able to get to Beer Advocate or other review sites, where there are reviewers that note the aromas. Maybe it’s a specific hop or something in maltier aromas, biscuit, or toast…

The other thing is, while I’m sure she’s wrong about the smell thing; there are certain beers that give me more or less “after-effects” than others. I don’t think it’s preservatives, because I’ve gotten it from home-brew; I don’t thing its yeast, because I’ve gotten it from filtered commercial brew. It happens more when I’m on business travel (of course) so I tend to think, for me, it’s more of a combination of factors, like fatty foods + beer + stress. If whatever she smells causes her to stress about the onset of effects, then there’s that beer+stress combination…

Finally, maybe beer just isn’t her drink. Maybe get a chardonnay kit next time…[/quote]

Interesting and I definitely appreciate your insight as well!

I think there’s a definite component of stress to all of this, and I believe that a lot of it is a psychosomatic response. In addition to what she thinks is a sulfate sensitivity she also has severe issues with chemical scents and perfumes. To the point where it causes a panic attack when she is exposed to them. I think this is truly a psychosomatic response for the most part, and likewise I think her issues with preservatives are compounded by this as well. Again I say that because she claims she is able to assess foods and beer by scent. I believe that it is just as much a combination of whatever allergy she really may have, compounded by the mental stress of her fear of a physical reaction.

So I dug into it a bit more when I visited over Thanksgiving and asked what exactly could she drink without issues now and she said presently there are only two beers that she can find readily: Stella Artois and Hacker-Pschorr. She also said that recently she had an issue with a bottle of Hacker-Pschorr that she drank and she wasn’t sure if she could attribute it to a bad batch or a change in ingredients.

So I asked her to explain the physical reaction she had and she described it as feeling really jittery, a noticeable rise in blood pressure, and a panic attack. Again, that sounds like it’s partially psychosomatic.

So when I visited I brought 3 types of beer with me. My first all grain batch which was a Fat Tire Clone, Fat Tire, and a Dupont Saison in hopes that she could drink it and see what type of beer I was brewing for her. She smelled the Fat Tire and said that it might be safe, and then she smelled my home brew and had a strong reaction. Keep in mind that this was brewed from ingredients I found at a local home brew store, so nothing certified organic. She was surprisingly okay with the Dupont Saison though, and she finished the glass.

So hopefully the organic brewing works out and she can drink it.

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