Finally, after a three-year hiatus, Deb and I brewed beer. On Sun, May 27, 2018, we brewed a 2.5 gallon, Belgian Saison, SMASH extract beer. This was our first 2.5 gallon batch. The math is a bit easier compared to brewing a 2-gallon batch from a 5-gallon recipe.
We decided to ease back into brewing by making an extract brew to reduce the total processing time. And we chose to do a single malt and single hop (SMASH) brew. Simple.
The recipe we chose is the extract version of our Song Sparrow Saison that we brewed on July 4, 2014 as a 5-gallon batch.
On Fri, May 25, we shopped at Titgemier's for the extract malt, one package of 3.4 AAU Saaz hops, one Wyeast Belgian Saison (3724) smack-pack yeast, priming sugar (corn sugar), and Starsan.
The extract and all-grain recipes came from the July-August 2014 issue of Brew Your Own magazine.. BYO requires a subscription to read its articles. We subscribed even though we still have that old magazine.
If this extract SMASH works well, then I would prefer to try other simple, extract SMASH brews.
For the extract brewing, we could reduce the time more if we chilled the wort by placing cold water into the fermenter and then adding the hot wort, topping off with more cold water if necessary.
The Wyeast smack-packs require a few hours to expand to readiness while the small packages of yeast can be used immediately.
For the fermenter, we used 3-gallon, plastic Better Bottle. We installed a blow-off tube. I was unsure if the fermenter had enough head space for only an airlock.
The beer got active later in the evening on brewing day. As of Thu, May 31, the brew was still producing a lot of bubble activity, although not as much as on Sunday and Monday.
The fermentation activity, however, remained well-below the mouth of the Better Bottle. In the future, we could use an airlock.
We placed the wort in the basement to ferment. We have experienced unusually hot weather with temps in the upper 80s and 90s, and I have not installed our two small window AC units yet. The basement temp was in the 70s.
Tue, Jun 5, 2018
The beer atmosphere in the basement smelled good last night, due to the bubbles bursting in the bucket that contains the blow-off tube.
Small bubble activity occasionally continues, of course, but the main, initial fermentation activity has ended. The surface of the beer in the fermenter is now mainly calm.
The Better Bottle fermenter consists of clear plastic. It's nice to be able to see the brew go through its stages.
Time-permitting, we'll bottle on Sun, Jun 10.
The weather has cooled off. From Sun, May 27 through Thu, May 31, we experienced unusually hot weather with temps in the upper 80s and 90s. The weather changed on Fri, Jun 1, cooling off some. And comfortably cool weather began on Sat, Jun 2, and has continued through today, Tue, Jun 5 with high temps only in the 70s. The basement temp has remained in the 70s with low humidity, thanks to the dehumidifier that's located in the basement.
We should have placed the fermenter in the dining room. First floor house temps hover around 80 to 82 degrees, during the warm spell because I have not installed our two small, window AC units. Actually, we should have fermented upstairs where second floor temps were in the mid-80s by late afternoon.
Fermentation temps for Saison require warmer temps. We should have read the fine print.
From the Wyeast 3724 page
This strain is the classic farmhouse ale yeast. A traditional yeast that is spicy with complex aromatics, including bubble gum. It is very tart and dry on the palate with a mild fruitiness. Expect a crisp, mildly acidic finish that will benefit from elevated fermentation temperatures. This strain is notorious for a rapid and vigorous start to fermentation, only to stick around 1.035 S.G. Fermentation will finish, given time and warm temperatures. Warm fermentation temperatures, at least 90°F (32°C), or the use of a secondary strain can accelerate attenuation.
A device can be attached to a fermenter that can control the temp. In the winter, our basement temps can dip into the upper 50s with first floor temps in the low 60s. We would need a temperature control device if we wanted to ferment a Saison at 90 degrees. We need it now. Another gadget. But it might get the most out of a simple beer recipe that focuses on the yeast.
Beer Advocate forum thread about fermenting temps for Saisons.
I homebrewed a Saison last summer using 3724 and I fermented for 5 weeks in the 80’s; I would guess the median temperature was 84°F. That beer turned out great; a nice balance of fruity and spicy flavors. Absolutely no fusel alcohols were produced.
- Wikipedia: Saison
Brew Your Own articles (requires subscription)
- The Cult of American Saison
- Saving Saison
- Saison for All Seasons
- Style Profile for Saison
- Saison of the Season
- Belgian-Style Saison
- Saison Ale
On Sun, Jun 10, 2018, we bottled the 2.5 gallon batch. We used a little under a half cup of priming/corn sugar. The amount we used was more than 50 percent of the 3/4 cup that's used for a five-gallon batch.
Saison's are supposed to be on the carbonated side, but I get nervous about that. I can still drink an under-carbonated beer, but a beer that geysers several inches in the air when opened is undrinkable.
We wound up with 25 bottles that we took the basement for storage on the floor, covered with a blanket.
We had a partially filled 26th bottle that we placed in the frig immediately, and we drank some of it that night, and we were pleasantly surprised by how well it tasted. This should be a winner.
On Sun, Jun 17, 2018, one week after bottling, we placed one bottle in the frig earlier in the day that we shared that night, and the beer tasted great. It was only lightly carbonated, but we bottled the week before.
On Wed, Jun 20, 2018, I chilled another bottle for consuming in the evening, and this beer tasted even better than the one consumed on Sunday, and it was much more carbonated, but in a good way. As long as the carbonation stays under control in the weeks ahead, this might be one of our best beers.
I drank one or two more of our beers between June 20 and June 27. The beer has plenty of carbonation. Not too much. It's not a fault, yet. Maybe as the beer ages, it will become too carbonated.
June 27, 2018
I consumed a beer on Wednesday, June 27, 2018, and this brew is definitely one of my favorite beers and maybe the best-tasting beer that we have brewed. It's as good as anything that I have tasted that has been brewed by local craft breweries. It's a simple, delicious beer. No need for complexity.
I can taste the fruitiness from the yeast and/or the hops. I poured the beer slowly into a beer glass. The carbonation foam was tall in the glass, but it subsided eventually.
The current carbonation level is probably considered ideal by beer aficionados, especially for a Saison, but I would prefer less carbonation.
I consumed individual Orval beers on June 25 and June 26, and both were as carbonated and maybe more carbonated than the current status of our Saison. It has been a while since I have consumed an Orval, and I don't remember Orval being that carbonated. It was annoyingly carbonated. Orval is one of my favorite beers to buy.
Our Saison is not at the annoying carbonation level yet. It's still acceptable. Maybe we should place all of the remaining bottles in the frig. Will that stop further carbonation development? I want to make this exact recipe again, but we'll bottle with only 1/3 cup of corn sugar, instead of nearly a 1/2 cup.
For this 2.5 gallon batch, we used:
- 3.75 lbs or 1.7 kgs liquid malt extract. the recipe called for "pale" malt extract. ours was dark, which is probably why this saison has wound up darker than the saison that we brewed in 2014. this 2018 version is more orange-colored.
- 3.4 AAU Saaz hops (one package)
- Wyeast Belgian Saison (3724) smack-pack yeast
- priming sugar/corn sugar for bottling, slightly under a half cup. too much. but the recipe said to use more than the normal amount of sugar that's required.
Jul 27, 2018
I drank another one of these beers tonight. It's a fabulous beverage. I crave this beer. It's not over-carbonated. I think that the well-carbonated behavior of this beer is how it's suppose to function. It's not an issue. I pour slowly, and it's fine. It's carbonated like Orval.
This saison is not only the best beer that we have brewed, but it's also one of the best beers that I have consumed anywhere, made by anyone. I guess that I'm sold on this style of beer. This simple recipe works amazingly well.
If we brew this beer again, and I hope that we will, then I think that we'll continue with at least 0.40 to 0.45 of cup of sugar for bottling.
#Belgian - #Saison - #2.5gal - #smash - #extract