What’s your idea of a spring saison?
To me, it means low alcohol, light color, dry hopping, and a vanishing final gravity. Cheesy as it sounds, you’re trying to put the season in your glass, right? If so, the beer needs to be bright and blooming...exactly the sort of thing that suggests a day that starts chilly and wet and ends warm.
We got our hands on a couple ounces of Belma, a young hop varietal with pronounced melon and strawberry flavors, and decided to pair that with blood oranges to see what sort of fruit complexity we could tease out of an already estery beer. Strawberry, orange blossoms, cracked pepper: sounds like spring to me.
The idea for blood orange came from a trip Lara and I took to Asheville earlier this month with a couple of friends. Wicked Weed tapped a single keg of a blood orange saison, and it kicked before we could get there. Disappointed, we figured the only thing to do was to go home and brew your own.
An ester blowout and perceived sweetness are our enemies here, so we pitched low and plan to ferment under 70°F.
This saison also marks our first foray into cask ale. After a few days in secondary with orange zest and flesh and Belma hops, we’ll rack this beer into a 5.4-gallon pin so we can serve it at an event late next month.
Stay tuned for details. We’ll share them as soon as we can.
Batch size: 6 gallons
Grains: 12.3 lbs.
Estimated SRM: 5
Estimated IBU: 22
Estimated OG: 1.052
Estimated FG: 1.007
9.70 lbs. Belgian two-row pale
1.85 lbs. Munich light
0.75 lbs. Rye
0.75 oz. Perle (7.8% AA)
1.50 oz. Belma (10.0% AA)
3 blood oranges
0.5 tsp.yeast nutrient
1 Whirlfloc tablet
Wyeast 3711 (French saison)
Mash: 5.01 gallons @ 147°F (75 minutes)
Sparge: 4.42 gallons @ 168°F (10 minutes)
Boil: 60 minutes*
0.75 oz. Perle @ 60 minutes
0.50 oz. Belma @ 10 minutes
Zest of 2 blood oranges @ 5 minutes**
Secondary: 1.00 oz. Belma and the zest and flesh of 1 blood orange for 4 days
* 60-ish, really. The propane tank bottomed out 35 minutes into the boil, so we lost momentum for a few minutes for a quick trip to the gas station. This is a low-hopped beer, so I’m hoping the hiccup won’t disturb our hop utilization. One of these days, we’ll bother to keep a second full tank on standby.
** My anal-retentive ways failed today for some reason. I never bothered to weigh the zest.