Saison Wry

In the last post I mentioned my luck in winning a gold medal for my saison. I want to share my recipe and some thoughts on why I think it turned out as well as it did.
First the recipe:

Grains Amount Percent
Breiss US Two Row Malt 1.60 kg 43%
Weyermann Light Munich 0.80 kg 22%
Flaked Wheat 0.70 kg 19%
Malted Rye 0.45 kg 12%
Lyle’s Golden Syrup 0.14 kg 4%
Hops and Spices Amount Boil Time IBUs
East Kent Goldings 25 g 60 min 23
East Kent Goldings 20 g 15 min 9
East Kent Goldings 10 g 5 min 2
Coriander 15 g 0 min 0
Original Gravity 15.3º P (1.062)
Final Gravity 1.3º P (1.005)
Apparent Attenuation 92%
Estimated ABV 7.7%

So what makes this beer special? First of all , it turned out to be an absolutely beautiful beer. It is a deep gold, and crystal clear with a rocky white head. But beauty is only skin deep: what completes the picture? I think there are at least four things which could be responsible: the grain bill, the spices, the water, and the yeast.

The use of malted rye in the grain bill seems to add a lot of flavor interest.  The rough, grainy flavor of the rye is unique.  Of course, the sugar in the golden syrup helps assure that this beer fully ferments and achieves the dry and crisp character it should have.  The two row malt, munich malt, and flaked wheat all play a role, but I suspect the levels of these ingredients could vary without substantially impacting the nature of the beer.

The spices consist of coriander, which is a wonderful, flowery spice.  I feel the character of the coriander plays really well against the grainy character of the rye.  That being said, I find many that many people I share my homebrews with fail to detect coriander when it is present. I can only assume this is because most people are not familiar with the flavor of coriander. Maybe I notice it just because I know it is in there.

Water is the next ingredient of interest.  I have never visited Wollonia, the home of the saison, but the water is described as minerally and high in carbonates – definitely the opposite of Pittsburgh.  Therefore I added generous amounts of calcium sulfate (gypsum) and calcium chloride to my water, along with some salt, baking soda and a pinch of calcium carbonate (chalk).  Of course I did this carefully in order to maintain the appropriate residual alkalinity.  Recent study on my part suggests that the water profile I constructed is not entirely accurate, but I still think it brought life to this beer.

Lastly, the yeast.  I love Wyeast 3711, it consistently achieves a final gravity of 1.005 or lower (it has even hit 1.000 !).  The result is a beer with a clean and crisp taste, and not in any way sweet and cloying.  It really sets the stage and lets the coriander and rye flavors shine, while providing a clean palate that leaves you wanting more.

I love saisons. For me, this recipe is as good as any I have tasted. And I am satisfied with that.

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