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Author Replies
03/18/10 09:24 PM  
Help hopping a saison
Newbie here at BBB and a relative newbie homebrewer also (only 2 brews under my belt).

I'm a big fan of PT Jack d'Or and I want to brew a traditional saison that has a similar hop profile to Jack--I really like the citrusy, flowery aspect of it. I see at the PT website that they hop it with First Gold, Cascade and Nugget. I really love Cascade hops but I'm sort of torn because I also like the spiciness that Saaz brings to the table. I like Hallertauer in saisons also. Maybe a blend of these would be nice. I realize that there are no 'rules' per se and that I could throw any hops in there that I'd like. I just don't want to have any of the hops overpower the others. I was thinking something like:

1.5 oz Hallertauer at 60

1.5 oz Cascade at 15

0.5 oz Saaz at FO

(all pellet hops)

beercalculus.org has this as 34.9 IBU's

My malt profile is going to be 75%Briess Pilsen DME, 10% Wheat DME, 7.5% Munich LME and 7.5% table sugar to dry it up a bit. Shooting for something around O.G.of 1.055 and an abv of between 6-7%. I'll be using Wyest 3711.

I'm hoping you guys with more experience working with different hop varieties and give me some guidance! Any input would be greatly appreciated!



03/18/10 10:52 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
Jack D'or is a lovely beer, but they tweak it almost every batch so it's hard to nail it down. To my tastes the recent batches have had less cascades. You can use whatever you want to get the IBUs up to the 35-40 range. My saisons with an equal mix of Nugget, Hallertau, and Saaz just about match up with Jack.

The rest of it looks right on. Good luck.

03/19/10 02:12 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
If you don't want any of the hops to overpower the other then I would definitely add more Saaz at the end since they are very low alpha compared to the Cascade. I would go as high as 2 ounces.
03/19/10 05:46 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
Ditto on Cisco's opinion.

Also, maybe it's personal preference, but I just don't see using Cascade in a Saison. I guess there's no rational way I can defend that based on how much I generally like high-alpha American hops in the style in general, though.

Still, what happened to the Nugget? I did a Saison with Nugget this year and I think it was a good touch, at least for my tastes. Also, if you really want a blend of flavors, why don't you blend the 2 varieties in each of the late additions 50/50? That way you will get flavor and aroma additions from both.

Also, if you have the opportunity to go with leaf hops in good condition for the later additions, I think it makes a big difference. Again, just my $0.02.

03/19/10 09:12 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
Maybe I'll change it up a bit. I'll drop the Cascade and use Nugget and make the last 2 additions a 50/50 of Nugget/Saaz:

Hallertauer at 60

Nugget/Saaz at 15

Nugget/Saaz at flameout

I'll get the IBU's to about 35 with the early additions but how heavy should I go on the 'flameout' additions? Aroma's nice but I don't want overkill.

03/20/10 10:49 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
I really liked strisselspalt in my Saisons. just sayin
03/22/10 10:31 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
Drop the Nugget, keep the Saaz and Hallertauer, hop it like Cisco says or even higher.

Remove the sugar, bring up the Munich to 10% - 15%. Don't worry, the 3711 will dry it out just fine. And for the love of Dupont, stop using so much high alpha American hops in Belgian style beers, it's a total trainwreck.

03/23/10 11:14 AM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
<<And for the love of Dupont, stop using so much high alpha American hops in Belgian style beers, it's a total trainwreck.>>

Says who? Lots of Belgian beers use high alpha American hops.

03/23/10 04:29 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
But as Ross said - NOT Saisons!
03/23/10 06:24 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
"Says who? Lots of Belgian beers use high alpha American hops."

That's true, alot of Belgian beers use high alpha American hops but that doesn't mean they are making better beer. These new Belgian IPA's hopped with North West hops really leave alot to be desired in my opinion. What bugs me is the Belgian yeast aromatics totally clash with the citrussy American hop profile. If a small amount of high AA hop was used in combination with a noble variety in the bittering addition, maybe that would work. But with Saisons especially, I think a good, noble hop flavor base is needed along with a decent malt backbone to balance or all you taste is the yeast. That's why when the gravity is below 1.058, I wouldn't bother with sugar especially with the 3711. It just takes away too much of the malt profile. Another way to compensate would be to beef up the Munich addition if using sugar.

I'm very opinionated about saisons, I can't help it...Just kidding :)

03/23/10 06:54 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
Ross and Cisco,

I only halfway agree with you. It all depends on which high AA hops and how they are used. As far as the citrusy/piney hops are concerned, yes, only a small or not at all. They can easily overpower everything else. But Nugget plays nice with Belgian yeast and noble hops. Arabier and Jack D'Or both are fantastic beers.

And a short comment on malt, I prefer Vienna to Munich in saisons :P

03/23/10 07:19 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
In the end all that really matters is if YOU like the beer you made. You can follow along the lines of traditional saison recipe formulation or push the boundaries and make something more to your liking. BTW, Ross and I are both traditional saison brewers.
03/23/10 10:27 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
Yep, Arabier is a nice beer and I think Nugget works well in that brew. Don't forget, it's not the only hop in that beer though as it is dosed with quite a bit of EKG as well. Try hopping a beer with the majority of Nugget and you'll have something very un-Belgian and citrus-like. Try Troeg's Nugget Nectar as a reference. You'll see what I mean.

I also use Vienna in my saisons as well as melanoidin, wheat, aromatic, caramunich, special B, pale ale, caravienne, crystal 80, black malt etc....

As Cisco mentioned, try it and see what you like, heck, don't take my word for it. I like hearing from guys when they post what doesn't work. Saves me money and research time.

03/24/10 02:02 AM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
Well, I just made a "casdcadian dark saison" with a healthy dose of amarillo and crystal at 20 minutes and 0 minutes. I'll let you know if it doesn't work ; )
Rob B
03/24/10 09:32 AM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
I am not trying to pick a fight here, but what is a "traditional" saison recipe? I was under the impression that traditionally saisons used whatever the farmers had available and they were very low alcohol. Now, I am a very recent convert to not putting american citrusy hops in Belgian beers also. But are you guys saying a traditional saison is a dupont clone (pilsner and sugar only), because I find this on several brewing forums.

I am a big fan of saisons and I am brewing lots of them with all kinds of ingredients, some work, some don't and my favs are low alcohol (~4%ABV), but my malt bills have been all over the place.

03/24/10 12:03 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
Agreed very much that American Hops + Belgian yeast does not necessarily a tasty Saison make!

As with so many other things, it really is a matter of personal taste. One person's delightfully brash beer is another person's trainwreck. The closest similar example regarding hops for me would be double IPAs. Some I love, some I think "whatever possessed you to use this particular blend of hops?".

One interesting envelope-pusher I have been enjoying lately that is tangentially related is the De Molen "Hemel & Aarde", in which the combination of smokiness/peatiness from scotch whisky barrel aging marries, to my taste, surprisingly well, with citrusy Amarillo and Nugget hops.

03/24/10 12:55 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
"I am not trying to pick a fight here, but what is a 'traditional' saison recipe?"

(Not trying to pick a fight either, just add my thoughts to the discussion)

To answer that we have to decide what a "traditional" saison is and the definition of traditional. One important thing I've learned from Ron Pattinson's blog is that beer styles are constantly in flux. So when Cisco says he is a traditional saison brewer does he mean that he makes a beer like those served to Belgian farmhands or does he mean he makes beer like the ones labeled as saison from current Belgian breweries? What is the difference? I don't know but I bet you could get a good answer from the main board.

I haven't answered your question... I think that 'traditional' is a weak and imprecise word.

03/24/10 02:07 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
to clarify my version of traditional according to our discussion on the proper hops to use for the current traditional Belgian Saison style (DuPont, Fantome, de Blaugies, Vapeur, D'Epeautre and others) - is to use low alpha noble hop variety's.
03/24/10 02:33 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
I'm not looking for a fight either guys, it's only beer. I just think when we start throwing terms around about what saison or even Belgian beer is, it can actually discredit this thing we all love so much. Belgian beer should not be a catch-all for everyone's crazy assed concoction that we threw together and fermented with a Belgian yeast. Anyone can do that and quite honestly, it's injurious to the credibility of Belgian craft brewing.

Maybe we should define what a Saison is.

To me, when some brewer takes any old malt bill and any type of hop, brews it and throws a saison yeast in it; it doesn't make it a saison.

If you brew a beer with 70% pale malt, 20% flaked barley and 10% roasted barley and ferment it with 3711, does that make it a saison? No, it's an Irish Dry stout that was fermented with a saison yeast.

Like wise, if I brew a beer and spice it up and ferment it with Cal ale yeast, is it a saison? Nope.

I think what alot of guys are trying to do is brew hybrids. Neither saison, nor IPA nor Pale Ale or Munich Dunkel, whatever. They think they are being so creative to make a beer with all these strange combinations of malts and hops and say "look at my new blah, blah, blah saison!" As if they are the first ones to ever think of it.

For what it's worth, the BJCP is also struggling with this category and have listed high alchohol and dark beers not to be included in the saison category. I helped contribute saison statistics to the latest style guide.

For me, in order for the beer to qualify as a traditional saison, it must first of all be bone dry. Min of 90% ADF. This is a constant of all saisons.

Also, the brew must be below 7% ABV in order to be refreshing.

IBU should be balanced at about .50 - .58 of gravity.

The beer should be refreshing, a lawnmower beer. Remember what these beers were intended for.

This means it will not have alot of dark or caramel or speciality type of malts in the brew.

It should be extremely complex, fruity, spicey, even peppery but not smooth. It should be rustic, very rustic.

That's my take in general.

Scott J
03/24/10 03:20 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
Then I guess you are not much of a fan of Fontome huh?

I don't suppose I should tell you about my Pumpkin Saison either (which has won many awards in the Belgian Specialy category).

I agree with your definition of a Classic Saison, which I enjoy very much, but one of the reasons I say this is my favorite type of beer is that it lends itself to so much variety.

03/24/10 03:57 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
Fantome? I like their regular saison offering, the La Gourmande and also the Printemps. Not crazy about their other stuff; but not because he calls the other beers saison, I simply don't like the flavors of the others. I think that one called Strange Ghost is just horrible. Taste like a pound of Rosemary is in each bottle.

Congrats on winning in the Belgian Speciality category. By entering your beer in this category, you must have aready known the beer did not qualify for the classic version or export version. Good job. I think many folks get confused on the guidelines and some beers get entered incorrectly.

Maybe I should tell you about my Blackend Pilsner, oh wait, I mean my Schwartzbier.

Also, I brewed this really nice Baltic Porter a few months ago and fermented it with 3787 yeast. I'll bet nobody has made one of these before, I'll bet. Tastes like a Belgian Dark Strong. Wonder where I should enter it..hmmm....

03/24/10 03:58 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
Back to Adamc....who is no doubt very amused and confused.
03/24/10 04:05 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison

Didn't mean for your thread to get hijacked here.

I have struggled alot with this style and I just want you to have a successful brewing session since you have only brewed twice before. I think following the traditional guidelines before going off and experimenting would be the best approach.

My advice would be to listen to the various opinions but commit to getting your process down before trying unproven recipes.

03/24/10 04:22 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
I dunno, I still think that American hops can play very nicely with Belgian and more specifically Saison yeasts. Amarillo is one that comes to mind that I find complements the spicy phenolics of your average Saison yeast well. That doesn't mean that any American hop would. I personally think that Chinook taste like crap in almost any beer; but you get the point.

It doesn't have to be limited to "Belgian IPAs" either. Chimay has used American hops for years. Duvel brewed the Triple Hop which was fantastic. Not Belgian and not necessarily "traditional" but De Molen was mentioned above, and they are putting out some really nice hoppy beers. Same with Alvinne and the Hop Trilogy. And De Struise is playing with it a little was well. There are several others as well. Some brewing more traditional styles; some thinking more outside the box. Point being that there are lots of possibilities and while I somewhat agree that the very very agressivly hopped beers miss the mark more than they hit it, that doesn't necessarily condem the entire idea of using American hops in Belgian beers.

I also don't like the idea of pigeonholing a beer like Saison into what the BJCP would consider a "category". It's such a broad concept. "Farmhouse beer" could really mean anything. Sure, at one point it was mainly used to nourish and hydrate the farmhands working in the fields, but it's my understanding that they would also create stronger, sometimes darker versions to be drank in the winter - when there was less farm work being done and when a fuller beer would be more "nourishing".

Perhaps I'm misinformed, but one of the things I've always liked about Saison was how broad a range of beers it covered. I agree that they should all be bone dry, and somewhat spicy, but beyond that, I think there is a lot of room for creativity as is shown to us by some of the more innovative, yet what I would call traditional saison brewers like Dany at Fantôme. Who produces some of the most wonderful beers ever IMO.

Just my 2 cents

03/24/10 04:52 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
Tank; I get your point and I agree with you on not totally giving up using American hops in Belgians or at least trying to use them for bittering purposes. I think I mentioned that earlier.

The original poster was looking for advice on how to hop a saison when he has only two beers under his belt. My advice is to brew a good, traditional Saison FIRST, then go experimenting with different hops or he might be discouraged with the results. God knows I've been discouraged to the point I almost gave up this hobby. I just want him to have as much of a chance for success as he can.

As far as the broad range of beers saison covers, take a look at the new guidelines where they say "Strong versions (6.5% - 9.5%) and darker versions (copper to dark brown/black) should be entered as Belgian Speciality Ales (16E)".

I know I sound like the style police but I'm really not. But in order to judge a beer, if that's your thing, the judges need a frame of referance. If the guidelines where wide open, then it's a free for all and the original intent is lost. Also, a saison must be more than bone dry and spicy because that could describe a German Pils like Victory Prima Pils the number one example of that style.

As you say, my .02

03/24/10 06:01 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison

I actually agree with most your thoughts above on the defining characteristics of a saison. However, I believe there is some room to move as far as hopping. Nothing wrong with American hops if used judiciously. But that is a general rule that extends to any ingredient and any style. I have made saisons a with a portion of Nugget or Amarillo for flavoring with nice results. And thats my 2 cents.


03/24/10 07:11 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
Nugget doesn't surprise me either because it is a good sub for B. Gold which can work in a saison as well assuming the flavoring hop additions are of a noble type.
03/25/10 09:29 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
I didn't realize that I'd set off such a debate. It's been very imformative! I realize that I'm a novice and I probably should just go ahead and brew a 'tried and true' traditional saison recipe but that seems too boring. Granted, I may experiment 'too much' and end up with a 5 gallon drain-pour, but that's a chance I'm willing to take. The experimentation of homebrewing and recipe formulation is half the fun as far as I'm concerned. I have really loved almost all the saisons that I've tried. It's a style that I really appreciate. But Jack d'Or, in particular, really caught my attention. Clearly not a 'traditional' saison but one that I (and my wife, amazingly!) really enjoy. I'm using Jack d'Or as my inspiration for this brew that I'm going to attempt. Granted, I realize that I'm not using Pretty Things' exact malt bill or their same yeast so I understand that I'm not going to get an exact replica. What I'm shooting for is a 'traditional' (there's that word again) saison with a slight Cascade kick (I'm dropping the Nugget and going with my original instincts). My problem, because of my inexperience is.......how much is too much. As mentioned above, I know that I can throw any combination of hops in there that I wish and that asking 10 of you guys is going to yield 10 different opinions. Here's where I think I'm headed (for now):

1.5 oz Hallertauer at 60

1.5 oz Cascade at 15

2.0 oz Saaz at flameout

IBU's 31.4

I'd like to stick with something along the lines of this hop schecule. I just want verification that these numbers aren't way out of balance. Cisco mentioned above that going up to 2 oz of Saaz at flameout will 'balance' out the Cascade. Would adding some Cascade at flameout be a good idea? I guess I'm just hoping that I don't get an overpowering Cascade taste. I'm looking for subtlety. I'm going to be doing a full boil.

I'm also going to take the advice mentioned above and drop the sugar and up the Munich.

5 lbs Pilsen DME

1 lb Wheat DME

1 lb Munich LME

O.G. 1060

F.G. 1015

I also want to mention that I'm very glad that I discovered this website. You guys really sound like you know what you're doing and you're very welcoming to 'newbies' like myself. I can't thank you guys enough. The input and criticisms are very much appreciated!



03/25/10 10:08 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison

Assuming a 5 gallon batch, I would opt for the 2 ounce addition at 10 minutes only. You might want to try .5 ounce of Cascade and 1.5 ounces of Saaz, again at 10 minutes left. I wouldn't hop it at flame out.

03/25/10 10:23 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
I agree with Ross - of course!!!
03/25/10 11:10 PM  
Re: Help hopping a saison
Thanks Cisco....I need to come to Tucson again...


Also, ferment the 3711 at 67 - 68*F and hold it steady. I think your finishing gravity will be down around 1.007 - 1.009.

Normal fermentation for this yeast will have peak krausen at about 14 hours after pitching and the head will fall right at or around day 7. Keep it in the fermenter another three days or so before kegging. I usually transfer around day 8 when using this yeast and hold it in the secondary for about 4 weeks before kegging.

Make a clean starter and make sure the yeast is healthy or it will spit alot of sulfur.

Pre taste the Munich LME and make sure it tastes great and not tangy or paper like. It should be very sweet and fresh, like you could pour it in a chocolate shake and make a malt.

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