Getting A Jump On Saison Season

Saison Dupont

This year for Presidents’ Day, since it was too cold to BBQ, I decided to brew some beer with my friend and homebrew compatriot, Lucas.  With the STL permafrost finally gone, and Punxsutawney Phil’s promise of an early spring, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get 5 gallons of Saison in the fermenter.  Overall things went great.  Mash temps and original gravity numbers were spot on.  However, in the wake of mother nature’s antagonistic “spring is coming” fake out, I overlooked the fact that it’s probably too cold to ferment this style properly.

The two keys to a great Saison are:

  1. dry-as-a-bone attenuation.
  2. freakishly high fermentation temperatures — Saison yeasts thrive in temperatures that usually spell disaster for most ales.

The first part shouldn’t be much of a problem for me.  The mash temperature held stable at 148 degrees for 75 minutes, and I’m using Wyeast 3711 French Saison — a high-gravity tolerant yeast with an average attenuation of around 80%.  I want to try to keep the fermentation temperature somewhere around 75 to 80-ish degrees.  However, considering my basement is a brisk 58 degrees, I’m going to have to get creative in my attempts to make a nice warm fermentation environment.

The fermenter is currently sitting under the only heat vent in the basement.  So far it’s looking somewhat promising.  I’m going to give it four weeks in primary, and then bottle it.

It will be beer, and I will drink it!

Brew Hooligan’s Saison d’Etre
5.5 gallons
OG: 1.058
FG: 1.010
IBUs: 30
8.00 lb. Pilsner Malt
2.00 lb. Munich Malt
0.25 lb. Rye Malt
1.00 lb. Clear Belgian Candi Sugar
2.50 oz. Saaz – 3.3%AA (boil 60 min.)
0.50 oz. Saaz – 3.3%AA (boil 5 min.)
Wyeast 3711 French Saison yeast

Mash @ 148dF for 75 minutes

Anyone have any suggestions for keeping the fermentation bucket above 75 degrees?

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4 Responses to Getting A Jump On Saison Season

  1. MemphisDave says:

    Get some big cardboard, (refridgerater box) and stand it around the fermenter so the heat is contained.

  2. David says:

    Better late then never. Brew one now. The summer time is the brewing season for a saison. The dryer hose is a good idea but will not result in a consistent heat. Ever think of a heating pad from Walgreens or those heat mats (http://www.growerssupply.com/farm/supplies/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10001&langId=-1&division=GrowersSupply&productId=39510)
    used under newly planted seeds to help them germinate? or wait til summer, brew a British ale with WLP005 British Ale Yeast, when it’s cold. WLP005 loves 65 to 70 degrees. Good luck!

    • Ryan G. says:

      I brewed this a while ago, and it turned out pretty good. The fruitiness of the yeast was a bit subdued, but not to the point of being boring. I was mostly worried about attenuation, but my FG ended at 1.008, so the beer was plenty dry. All in all, it was a success and I’ll probably brew this again now that it’s summer. I’ve had hit and miss results with generic heating pads, but those seedling mats look like a good idea. I’ll have to try that.

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