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Saison Fermentation

Yesterday I brewed my first Saison as followed:

12.5 lbs German Pilsner
1 lbs Munich Malt
0.75 lbs of German Wheat
2 oz Hallertau (boil 75 minutes)
1 oz Hallertau (Flameout)
0.5 oz Sorachi Ace (Dry Hop)

Mashed at 147 for 90 minutes
Fly Sparged at 169

OG (post boil) 1.072

Total volume post boil 5.75 gallons

I added two packages of Wyeast #3724 Belgian Saison. (No starter- direct pitch)

There is the background, now I have a question on the fermentation end of the process. Currently I have it sitting at about 70 degrees F where I intend to keep it there for the first four days. Following that I am moving it to my garage (NE USA) where it will finish at 80-90 degrees for 10 days.

Does that sound correct for a fermentation schedule? Also, I have read that I may need to add sugar to the fermenter after four days to “dry” it out more. If this is true, does anyone have any suggestions on which sugar to use, and how to add it to the fermenter without contaminating the entire process?

Thanks in advance.

It all depends what you like. Your schedule should give you a good beer with some relatively intense phenolics from the yeast. I like to pitch my saisons around 66 for the first 3 days, then raise into the 70’s, but I’m all about subtlety in the phenols/esters and also all about ZERO fusel alcohols. I feel as though you can get a few from pitching in the 70’s. I don’t think the yeast needs to be taken into the 80’s to get full attenuation, but again, my preference. Mine dry out to 85-95% attenuation at those temps.

I think a lot of the ‘ferment hot’ mentality w/ saisons came about from Dupont yeast (up until a few years ago, the only one available) conking out at around 70% attenuation, so people just tried (usually unsuccessfully) fermenting the beers on a blacktop roof to get it to finish.

You will make a good beer, but you just need to experiment to see what suits your (and those who drink your beers) palettes. The important thing is that the temperature is increasing throughout the ferment. :cheers:

Thank you Pietro, that makes a lot of sense. I think I’ll move my fermenter to the ground level of my house after three days. That temp ranges from 73-77 depending on the time of day.

Do you think it is necessary to add sugar after a few days to wake up the yeast?

I hate adding extra steps out of fear, but I really hate sweet beers that have low alcohol contents.

I have added sugar, dissolved in water, cooled to beer temp after a few days, but unless it is part of your recipe, it probably doesn’t need it. Its not that the yeast are asleep, but the idea is you are raising temp to ensure they stay active.

Bear in mind as well, particularly during high krausen, the beer temp can be 5-7* higher than the ambient temp. If you place the fermenter into a water bath, the exothermic reactions will have a harder time moving the temperature up.

You don’t need to add any more sugar. You don’t even need to warm it up. My recent saison scored a silver medal fermented at a maximum of 73 F. Final gravity was 1.002. Patience is important. My saison took 3.5 weeks to get that low. When you think your saison is done fermenting… take a real close look. It’s not. Give it another week or two. That’s all there is to it. Let the yeast do its thing. Give it time. That’s all.

So being the MEDAL-WINNING saison brewer that you are :mrgreen: , do you continually hear the “ferment hot” nonsense and cringe like I do?

Yes. But I also know other people have been successful with high temperatures. It’s just… I wouldn’t do it myself. Plus I know the gold medalist followed the same temperature schedule that I did, starting out in the mid 60s and then raising up to a max of about 73-74 F. Yeah, his was better than mine. But it had nothing to do with temperature. Honestly I don’t know what it is, except maybe malt freshness. He buys fresh malt for every single batch. I don’t. I use the old stuff that’s been in my basement for 1 or 2 years. It still makes good beer, but not quite as fresh tasting. So I suppose that’s another little nugget of advice / lessons learned. Freshness is always key.

Dave thats a good observation about malt. Ive wondered about that since I keep a lot of malt on hand. I e never been super satisfied with my malty beers. But how do you know malt from a store or online is any fresher? Its all seasonally grown.

I just dryhopped my saison and tasted it, a nice spicy flavor. I started at 65 and brought it upstairs to 70 n day 3. This was the belle saison dry yeast.

It took me a couple of years to get over my fear of the hot temps with this yeast. Once I started fermenting at 80-90, I made great saisons that my friends enjoyed drinking and I won a few medals along the way too. I use a 50/50 blend of pils malt and Maris Otter, hops, water and yeast. I only add sugar at bottling. My saisons always finish below 1.006. I usually pitch at 68-70 and hold it there for a day or so. Then I let it go up to Texas, summer,garage temp which is 85-105 most of the time. The primary stays right at 90 degrees. This is for the Dupont strain only. Time is also important. I don’t even check my saison for 4 weeks, and usually rack at 5 weeks in primary. This yeast breaks all the rules, and that is just how it makes good beers. I have also lost 2 batches over the past 10 years of using this yeast, where the yeast just never took off, and the beer came out bad. It can be temperamental, but usually makes great beer.

I didn’t check gravity when I racked and dry-hopped but the yeast hung in the beer for a long time, I’m assuming this means a dry finish. I certainly got plenty of spice at the more modest ferm temp schedule, will have to try a small batch at the warmer temps.

Thank you for all the responses. Currently, I am fermenting away at 69 degrees in the basement then plan to move it to a closet upstairs to finish up.

I will take several gravity readings before I call it a day. I may (and please correct me if I am off base) add another Wyeast packet (perhaps 1056 American Ale) should the fermentation stall.

I have never done a Saison other than the kit variety, so this is truly and exercise in patience for me.

:cheers:

One last thing. I think I screwed up with the dry hopping schedule. I did 1/2 oz and added it directly to the primary (same time I pitched the yeast). Normally I wait a week or so then add them, but this particular brew day took me into the late evening hours on a work night and I may have lost a little focus by then.

Anyhow, utilizing the expert resources here, does anyone find issue with that? I hate to over think it, as I have been doing all grain batches successfully for about four years :blah: , but I sometime get a little nervous when I stray from my predictable course.

Thank you

You’re fine. You don’t really need dry hops in a saison anyway, but some of it will carry over into the final beer regardless.

I usually reyeast my saisons. I usually have some 1968 yeast around that drops bright, but will ensure that the priming sugar is consumed.

You should always check the final gravity on a saison, because you can have serious bottle bombs if the beer finishes high. If the 1056 takes it down to 1.012, the saison yeast could kick in and take it down to 1.008 or less. That is a lot of carbonation especially if you have added extra priming sugar. I almost always bottle a saison because it ages so well. If you are going to keg, you will get foam when the yeast finally decides to finish out.

Don’t worry about the dry hop. A little extra hop character will be nice, but the beer should come out complex without it.

Just wanted to add my +1. I’ll agree that the Dupont strain is a little more finicky than most yeasts, but with proper yeast handling (fresh yeast, proper starters, nutrients, etc.) and a little time you shouldn’t have any problems getting the flavors and gravity you want at normal fermentation temperatures. I personally don’t find 3724 any harder to work with than, say, the Ringwood yeast or 2112. And it’s easier than trying to use lacto, brett, or other fermentation bugs. YMMV.

I agree with most here you can get good esters out of normal temps or just slightly higher 75 or so. There are some finicky strains but they usually just need time, nutirents, rousal, etc… not necessarily 90 degree temps
The 80-90 degree stuff…dont bother IMO.
As for medal winning beer…that can mean jack squat sometimes. Not saying this beer wasn’t good or deserved a medal.
I just see a lot of homebrewers flaunting “award winning beer” in small competitions. There are comps so small when basically entering gets you a medal

Apparently I need to send you some beer. PM me your address.

ha like I said…not saying your is bad. Just saying it can mean jack squat sometimes

True, dat.

:cheers:

Well I let this saison brew settle out in the primary for 12 days and took a gravity reading yesterday. To my surprise and disappointment, the gravity was 1.040 (The OG post boil 1.072). I was not too pleased as many of you can guess. So, in a panic, I went to my local HB shop and purchased one WYeast 1056 American Ale and did a direct pitch (after the packed swelled) without a starter. My hope is that over the course of the next several days I can get this monster to dry up a bit and get it down to perhaps 1.015 or less. At which point I’ll dump my trub and let it clean up a bit for a few weeks than move it to cold storage in the keg.

Question, am I way off base with what I did? Is there a good possibility that I am going to have an extremely low alcohol, highly malty saison? One that is only suitable for my vegetable garden?

Being that I am using a Minibrew Conical fermenter, I can dump the trub after 7-10 days and let it sit for awhile. Does anyone else use this vehicle for fermenting? If so, would there be a chance that this beer can dry up further after the trub is dropped? In my case significantly?

:cheers:

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