We last brewed a smoked saison in 2012. The results were good, but we simply never revisited it despite the fact that every fourth beer or so we make is some form of saison.
The tasting notes were positive but did mention potential changes, specifically an increase in oak-smoked wheat and dark specialty malts. I let that be my guide in crafting this revised recipe. This time, we used 10% oak-smoked wheat (up from 7.5%) and 5.6% Special B (up from 4.5%). We increased the amount of aromatic malt, as well, but only very, very marginally to keep the percentage roughly the same as before as we scaled the recipe.
I know you’re generally supposed to change only one factor at a time as you hone recipes, but...yeah, I didn’t care.
Bonus fact: We hauled our system over to our friend Andrew’s house so we could brew in the shadow of a pilot batch being crafted for Mystery Brewing. Another bonus fact: A seef bier mash tastes like marshmallows.
This saison is a little bigger than we prefer our saisons to be. Ours usually stay south of 6% ABV. Oddly enough, we missed our starting gravity by quite a bit. We expected 1.067 but ended up pitching the yeast into 1.052 wort. The grains weren’t remotely sweet after we sparged, so we didn’t leave much sugar behind. We also boiled for 90 minutes. Our evaporation rate is a little lower in the keggles we brew with now than it was in our old stainless kettle, but the statistical difference doesn’t add up anywhere near 15 missing gravity points. My guess? Something was measured incorrectly for us at the homebrew store. It’s not a big deal and has never happened before, so let’s just roll with this beer and see what happens.
Obviously this could screw with the recipe’s balance because, if anything’s missing, it’s base grain. I’m still perfectly optimistic about this batch, though. Even if by accident, I’m happy to drink a 5.9% ABV saison.
Batch: 6 gallons
Grains: 14.25 lbs.
10.8 lbs. Belgian pilsner
2.25 lbs. Rye
1.40 lbs. Oak-smoked wheat
0.80 lbs. Special B
0.20 lbs. Aromatic
1.10 oz. East Kent Goldings (7.2% AA)
2.25 oz. Saaz (4.0% AA)
600 mL slurry Wyeast 3711 (French saison)
13.2 gallons Durham city water
Mash (75 minutes)
Saccharification rest: 5.9 gallons at 149°F
Mash out: 168°F
Fly sparge: 7.3 gallons at 168°F
Boil (90 minutes)
60: 1.10 oz. East Kent Goldings
20: 0.75 oz. Saaz
10: 0.75 oz. Saaz, 1 tsp. yeast nutrient, 1 Whirlfoc tablet
Secondary: 69°F (0.75 oz. Saaz for 5 days)