Category Archives: saison

Something sexy in french….another Saison

OK so its summer again and its bloody hot, that means I’m back to brewing saisons again. My search for the perfect saison recipe continues. Some old recipes can be found here and in other posts on this blog.

Yes OK I know there is no such thing as the perfect saison recipe, but I’m trying to get to the point where I have a couple where I say “yep that’s it”. A couple of the paler versions brewed last season fit that bill, my favorite being the 100% pills and styrian goldings version with the belgian saison yeast. It took a while to come into its own and for the spicy complexity of the yeast to come through but when it did I really struggled to fault it. Love that yeast but it does take a while to do its thing.

I think simple is best with saisons, that said I did a couple of versions with palm sugar, got to love that dirty sugar. I’ve also used the Wyeast Farmhouse ale yeast a couple of times. It does a great job and is much more forgiving than the Belgian saison but it just isn’t quite as exciting. Great quick saison but in the long run it’s just not quite there.

Last year I also figured out that I dont like the use of Stella (or Ella now I think) as a dry hop in a saison. Tasted like petroleum. I may have been a little to heavy fisted with it but its put me off the idea. The old school Noble and Euro hops just seem to sit better with the esters and phenolic. Pearl, Halertau, Styrian Goldings. I am keen to try something tropical and fruity like Pacific Gem though, maybe even Galaxy. Should prove interesting.

So what did I brew for my first 2013 saison? Its a blend of what I learned in 2012 with a yeast i havent much experience with, the French Saison (by all accounts a more civilised yeast than the Belgian). So mostly pills, some palm sugar, mostly Styrian goldings, mash at  63 deg c and start the ferment at about 22 then let it go in an old farmhouse. I thought this beer needed a name, something sexy in french seemed a good idea. However I don’t know any french appart from being able to lip sync to Plastic Bertrand, so I’ll just stick with calling it “Something Sexy in French”. Heres the recipe –

Batch Size: 23.00 L
Boil Size: 28.00 L
Boil Time: 45 min
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00


Amount Item Type % or IBU
4.00 kg Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (3.9 EBC) Grain 70.39 %
1.00 kg White Wheat Malt (4.7 EBC) Grain 17.60 %
0.40 kg Vienna Malt (6.9 EBC) Grain 7.04 %
0.15 kg Acid Malt (5.9 EBC) Grain 2.64 %
0.05 kg Roasted Barley (591.0 EBC) Grain 0.88 %
10.00 gm Warrior [16.70 %] (45 min) (First Wort Hop) Hops 21.4 IBU
45.00 gm Styrian Goldings [3.40 %] (30 min) (First Wort Hop) Hops 11.2 IBU
10.00 gm Styrian Goldings [3.40 %] (10 min) Hops 0.9 IBU
40.00 gm Styrian Goldings [3.40 %] (1 min) Hops 2.9 IBU
0.08 kg palm sugar (0.0 EBC) Sugar 1.46 %
1 Pkgs French Saison (Wyeast Labs) Yeast-Ale
Measured Original Gravity: 1.050 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.011 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.42 %
Bitterness: 36.4 IBU

No idea how this will come out, but should be OK, really looking forward to seeing how this yeast behaves, and the wort tasted great. Next saisons in the gun are an all pills and Belgian saison yeast rebrew from last year, just a little hoppier, an amberish version, and I really want to do a batch of the porter I brewed for Christmas but with a saison yeast, that could be interesting. I’ll probably have to throw some fruit in a saison too, but then again its probably a distraction from getting my saison recipe dialed in.

Cheers D


Brewers and Drinkers

There are two kinds of people in the world. Those that brew and those that don’t.OK well that’s technically correct, but it’s also bullshit, and not really on topic of “Brewers and Drinkers”.8055045283_f19683a3f3_o

So before I launch into the topic a quick brewing and stuff update. The pale ale and porter that I brewed for the family boxing day party went down fantastically. This is always my favorite thing to brew for as I get to enjoy my beer with family. The most memorable part was my mum and aunts (none of them really craft beer drinkers) getting stuck into the robust porter. It had a nice chocolate and coffee to it and it was over 6%ABV. I guess they slept well.

I also brewed my first saison for the season, this time using the french saison yeast rather than my usually go to the Belgian one. I was going to knock out a batch of pale ale also but with the heat wave we are getting right now in Melbourne it was just better to leave it alone. More brews to happen in the coming weeks.

A_mXac7CEAI6kj2Now to the wheat harvest that usually gives me some home grown grain for brewing. Not so awesome this year, the harvest which is all done now went pretty well but the wheat has ended up being “shot”, that is it has started to take up moisture and think about growing. Not awesome for storing and I’m not too sure how it’ll go in the beers this year. If I want to use any it’ll need to be early in the year I think.

Now back to the topic of the Session – Brewers and Drinkers

What is the difference between brewers and drinkers, not a lot I’d say. Firstly I need to state, for fairness, that I am both a brewer (homebrewed) and a drinker. Both brewing and drinking take me to a zen place. Probably more so with the brewing, my 4 hours of zen providing everything works properly.

I think that in general brewers are a subset (sub species?) of drinkers. If I can recal year 8 maths I think a ven diagram would be the best way to put it in a picture. There would probably need to be subsets of both drinkers and brewers, but in general I think the brewer circle would sit 100% within the drinker circle. So in general all brewers are drinkers (I think, although I have heard of a former pro brewer who prefered wine to beer, or perhaps just his beer).This is a non related Venn Diagram just for the hell of it

I think that it should also be noted that neither brewers or drinkers can really survive without each other. I think you call that a symbiotic relationship.

People who only drink are just the ones who havent figured out how to DIY, just like people who watch Jamie and Nigella yet never pick up a pan or knife (or do speed cooking or lick the spoon with cleavage showing). That said all drinkers can be brewers (yes I know I am making a huge assumption that by drinkers we mean beer drinkers, but economists get to make assumptions and they never get things wrong, right?). All becoming a brewer takes is a trip to Kmart and the purchase of a home-brew kit. Its

easy, I got a mate going on this in mid December and he was drinking homebrew on Christmas day. Easy.I’d like to think more on the end of the drinker and brewer brackets who focus on good beer, craft, boutique what ever you want to call it, just not industrial lager.

Drinkers of good beer are all about making choices in beer that give them a high level quality experience that enhances all things around them. It is not simply a refreshing booze delivery device (but yes they are excellent attributes of beer, especially today when its 40 deg C in Melbourne). Brewers of said beer often start as drinkers of said beer who ask the questions like “why is x beer different to y beer?”. This leads to questions like “can I make x beer?”. Thats pretty much how I became a brewer. I do have to add that I have a background in science and agriculture, and love tinkering so the process and engineering that goes on in brewing is right up my alley. However so many brewers have backgrounds that in theory should make them completely unqualified to brew (all these bloody IT people), yet they still do.

Thankfully many drinkers realise that they cannot brew and get the beer they want. Both for them and their friends this is probably a good thing.

So Brewers and Drinkers. Where am I heading, I don’t really know but I told James (Beer Bar Band) that I’d post something.

When looking at the subsets these are my findings;

Drinkers only – essentially lazy or skill lacking people.

Brewers only – very strange people, I recommend that you show extreme caution when dealing with these people.

Drinkers who brew – very well-rounded people who are highly skilled and generally awesome.

And that my friends is the post, a rather biased one, and none of it factual in any way. It actually felt a bit like doing a Biology exam at Uni. I usually did quite well at them.

I’ll post some more saison recipe updates in the coming weeks as my search for the perfect saison recipe continues (and yes I know there is no such thing).

Cheers D

VicBrew 2012

Well the beer judging went well, met some good people, had some interesting beer, spent some time focusing on bee. All good.

While I judged some beer, I also had some of my own beers entered and this morning I got the email letting me know that 4 of my 6 beers had gotten 3rd place in their category and therefore are off to the Australian Amateur Homebrew Competition. The beers are a Belgian triple, an English barley wine, a peach saison and an American IPA- tex the third. I wasn’t expecting any places from this years entries so I’m pretty happy with the result. Perhaps brewing less is good for my brewing?

Now I just need to figure out how to arrange the logistics of moving my beer whet I’m on holidays. Just a small challenge, I think it’s sorted but I’ll owe a few people a beer or two to get it sorted.

Time for another celebratory beer.

Cheers D

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The 10 minute commute and a Seedy Goat Coffee IPA

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned but I’ve got a new job. Its a good gig, more cash, great opportunity, all that stuff. Oh and did I mention that my commute to work is now only a 10 minute walk? Yep its great. It’s through a nice park too. Excellent way to start the day, that and coffee, that makes for a good start to the day. However today I am choosing to also end my day with coffee. It’s in beer though, a Seedy Goat Coffee IPA.

I will get to that in a minute. Firstly I brewed last week and it all went more or less to plan. Let there be ZEN! After my resignation IPA that was a prick of a brew day (mice, blocked equipment and electrical fires) and then the beer didn’t even work out (all sour and off tasting, I tipped it out) I was really hanging out for a good brew day. New equipment, fresh ingredients, no sheep in my brew house. What could go wrong? well a lot actually but the only two things that were anything other than spot on was some hops that I’d had for a while didn’t smell right so I used some other hops instead (it was some whole cone galaxy that was oxidised, didn’t smell good at all) and I forgot to put a charge of hops in the low ABV saison so I added it as dry hop instead.

Both beers are now fermenting away beautifully, well at least I think they are. My Dad checked them last night and reported that the temp controller was on 19 deg C (its set for 20 deg C) and that they looked all foamy and a bit brown. I’ll take that as a healthy krausen, and call them fermenting well. They need to be, I need to have the low ABV saison set for the ANHC “How low can you go” comp next weekend (the 15th Sept I think) and the IPA ready for Vicbrew (the 22nd Sept). So far so good, will have to see how they go.

Anyway back to the beer, its one of their seasonal releases, I usually like them but seldom go crazy for them. This beer is no real difference. Its good, and clean with some coffee character that’s a bit like you get out of those pour over or siphon coffees. Dont buy this beer expecting to taste espresso. It fits in the realm of an English IPA, the fruity coffee from Nicaragua sits well with fruity beer. They apparently also used galaxy and cascade hops, I’m not really getting them though. Could be the coffee cutting over the top or just me not getting them. Not sure, I may be having a bad tasting night? I’m not really sure on this one either way. Let me know if you’ve tried it?

Anyway that’ll do for now, day number 2 of the new job tomorrow.

Cheers D




Zen tomorrow times 2, now a colab beer

I’m excited.

While I happen to be having quite a nice local/international collaboration beer that’s a bit of a hangover from Good Beer Week that’s not why I’m excited.

Right now my car is all loaded up with brand spanking brewing gear and ingredients. The shearing of my folks sheep is finally done and my brewhouse is no longer needed as the smoko room for the shearers. So that’s right, I’m brewing tomorrow, two batches. Two batches so hopefully that’ll be double the zen. This is my last-ditch effort to have a crack at a fresh entry for VicBrew, and perhaps a low ABV beer for the ANHC “How low can you go” comp. This will hopefully result in a nice US IPA and a 3 and a bit % ABV Saison of sorts.

Some Zen would be really nice to round out my week of unemployment. So would another week or two off but that will have to wait, the new job awaits. Still I can fit in some Zen.

I also need to bottle the bret infused farmhouse ale (that’s what I’m calling it, in VicBrew it’ll probably be listed under “beer – other”). I have no idea what this beer will be like, but fingers crossed it’ll be OK as its been ageing for around seven months. No idea what it’ll taste like, but again fingers crossed.

So to the beer that is easing me into my day of Zen tomorrow? A joint effort by Red Duck and Kissmyers Beers, a double IPA called Hop Bach.  Apparently it has 25 hops in it. No idea what hops were used, just a lot. I think that’s part of the flavor of this beer, no particular hop flavor, just all of them. Its kind of resiny and a bit piney with a lingering bitterness. All this balanced with a fairly full and sweet malt backbone. As its 9.8 % ABV a bunch of that sweetness is probably the booze. Again nice beer, not an everyday beer, but a really nice sipper. It’s a little low on the carbonation, but the bottle lid popped open with a really nice pop, and some bits of wax hit me in the face. The booze hits you in the face to, nice and warming.

Finding info on this beer is a little difficult, Anders Kissmeyer, the man behind Kissmeyer beer is everywhere on the web related to beer, but I can’t find a website for him (Click here for the best I could find). Red Duck has this beer listed as a to be released beer on their website, and as there were only 650 of the distinctive wax dipped swing top bottles good luck finding one. I can confirm that at most there are 649 left. Oh and for a better description of the beer without my bullshit go to the Craft Pint.

OK so brewing tomorrow, all good, lots of Zen, fingers Crossed. And hopefully back in time to go for beers in the city.

Cheers D

PS – I’ll post the recipes when (or if) I get around to it and no I don’t know if this beer being symphony #1 means that there will be a symphony #2

PPS – oh and I like this youtube clip – remember its potatoes not pasta! follow the link you fool!


MELON GIBSON and more how do I plan for GABS……..

Always a good start when you break a glass. And I think there might be a tiny bit of glass in my finger.

NO! There will be no signs of softness! The Great Australasian Beer Spectapular is this Saturday, must be hard and ready for GABS, a broken beer glass will not slow me.

Yesterday I pondered over how I should plan for GABS, its only days away. This also leads us to how should I plan for Good Beer Week, but that’s not really a concern for me right now, I’ve got a couple of events booked in, nothing special, and I have to go to Sydney for work and go to a Game of footy so my events will be limited. Really not impressed by the work bit, bastards.

Anyway to help me think further about GABS I’m having a beer that I think will espouse what GABS is about, Melon Gibson from Moon Dog. I’ve had McGuava from the same series, which I quite liked, this ones not to bad either. A simple beer, pillsner, raw wheat and wheat malt. Sounds like the malt bill from something I’d make at home. There’s water melon in the beer, can’t get much of that and some lacto. Thats the bit in this beer that’s familiar to me, and I’ve only just clicked at what it reminds me of. This beer has the faintest hint of a lambic or geuz. I think its meant to be of the berlinervise style (yea I spelt that wrong I think) but I dont really know the style so cant comment if they’ve hit it on the head or not. From what I’ve read about the style this isnt sour enough. It is however very drinkable. Simple and drinkable but with enough to keep the beer geek interested. It’s probably closer to a saison in my mind, but the mouth feel is different. All I could say is I’d perhaps like it bigger.

Love the beers these guys make, it’s just home-brew in bigger batches. Hats off to them I say. Looking forward to their beers on Saturday.

Now back to the plan, bugger it I don’t have one. If you are looking for one I suggest looking at Beer Bar Band: Good Beer Week Survival Guide it’s a little too planned and safe for my mind. Taking water, planning transport, take a pen and paper. This is drinking not a school excursion James! na actually he’s right and when I’m nursing a hangover on Sunday I’ll wish I’d paid more attention to his guide.

Ah I’m a fool.

Going to finish my Moon Dog Melon Gibson now (nice beer, did I mention that?) and find something to eat.

Cheers D


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Yep another Saison – Ovila

Today I spent 3 hours counting votes. Last night I had a few beers. yesterday I ran a meeting. Right now I’m lying on the couch, finally home, buggered.

My cure to this is some TV, couch time and a beer. Thanks to my visit to Purvis Beer last weekend I still have an interesting selection in the fridge so I’ve cracked one open. A saison, and yes it’s from the US again, this time made in a collaboration between Sierra Nevada and the Abbey of New Clairvaux. The beer is called Ovila Saison. The beer has a champagne style cork (which I like) but I’m in two minds about the lable, its new looking and clean, but they have had a crack at making it look old, ratty edges and images that look to be of a church.

I’m pretty happy to be drinking a beer that puts back into the community, thanks to the monks way of doing things drinking this beer makes me a philanthropist. Its also nice to see the guys at Sierra Nevada sticking with their principle of being good guys. Making a beer with some monks wasnt something they had to do, it was something they wanted to to. A good thing. I hope they dont start calling this a trapist beer, like the monasteries of Belgium, but it is good to see monks working with brewing.

First taste of this beer makes me think its more in line with a hef, banana and clove notes and a fairly full beer with out a huge level of carbonation. And its a 7% ABV, putting it out of my ideal saison range. I also havent heard of any trapist saisons before. Its a bit too heavy of a beer for me to call it an awesome saison, but its OK. This beer is pretty muted in flavor, not to much yeast character, a bit of a spicy citrus hit.

Add all that up and you get a beer that I like, but I dont know that I’d go out of my way for. Still drinking this beats the shit out of work so thankyou to the monks and Sierra Nevada for doing the right thing and making a good beer, putting some money to a good cause, and giving me a beer to have on a friday evening.

Not an awesome saison in my book though.

Cheers D

PS – as I drink this beer and it opens up the grapefruit citrus hit just gets bigger and bigger, its almost like a US pale ale towards the end

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Le Merle, a saison

A man with a hammer drill had a very productive day installing air con ducts on the 4th floor of my building. I work on the 5th floor.

King Brown!!

This did not make for a productive day for me. The vibrations went right through the concrete floor, my chair, my desk, my head. After that, a session at the gym and a late train I need a beer.

Thankfully I went to Purvis Beer in Richmond and grabbed a selection of beers over the weekend, mostly new ones and some old favorites. I had a bottle of 8 Wired Tall Poppy watching a DVD on Saturday evening, excellent beer. Love your work Soren. I also had a beer from Brew Boys, a South Australian brewery, King Brown. I think I went to beer school with one of the brewers. It was a nice beer, nothing too amazing, but still quite nice. I have a bottle of their stout in the fridge, apparently its a fairly handy beer.

But now to tonight’s beer, a saison, Le Merle from North Coast Brewing. I grabbed this beer mainly because I havent had it (or heard of it) and figured it couldn’t hurt in my search for the perfect saison. The bottle was interesting too. I’ve had some North Coast Brewing Co. beers before I think at a good beer week event last year. They were solid, nothing awesome, but good beers all the same.

So to this one, Le Merle. It’s a fairly heavy beer, plenty of yeast flavor, almost towards a triple or something bigger than I expect in a saison. It is however 7.9% ABV. That’s a little bigger than I like my saisons. But it is a nice beer, not in the class of a Saison DuPont, but very worthy of drinking. It’s probably closer to the Bridge Rd Saison than the DuPont actually.

However it is not a beer your going to get stuck into as you work in the fields of Walonia, or anywhere else for that matter. And for that reason it wont be something that I’ll aspire to brewing myself as a saison. That said I wouldn’t say not to another one, way better than sitting in the office with a hammer drill going under your feet.

Cheers D

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an answer perhaps in my search for the perfect saison?

Firstly I should say that no not really, but I am thinking that simplicity may be the key to a the perfect (well at least a good) saison.

My research on Saison Dupont, even though it was fairly thin all points towards it being 100% european pilsner malt and styrian goldings hops fermented with a yeast that best lines up with the Wyeast Belgian Saison at temperatures that are fairly steep. More or less any brewer should be able to replicate that to some extent. The yeast is apparently a tricky bitch (touch wood not for me) but there is nothing too tricky about the rest of the recipe, pills and Styrians. Whats so complicated about that?

I’ve just tasted my first bottle of my recipe as described above and its pretty fucking good, not earth shattering as its been in the bottle less than a week, also I under hopped it due to some discrepancies between the Beer Smith standard values on Styrian Goldings and what they had on the shelf at Grain and Grape in Yarraville. I was aiming for 30ish IBU with more hops in the finnish until I realised that I only had 80g of 3.4% aa hops so there was a bit of a reshuffle of the hop bill on the fly. The recipe is below is for a 29litre batch mashed at 64deg c with some gypsum. It came out at 1.o51 OG, finishing at about 1.010. I let the ferment start at about 20deg c and ramp up to 27 over about a week.

Amount Item Type % or IBU
7.00 kg Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (3.9 EBC) Grain 100.00 %
55.00 gm Styrian Goldings [3.40 %] (60 min) (First Wort Hop) Hops 21.2 IBU
25.00 gm Styrian Goldings [3.40 %] (1 min) Hops 1.5 IBU
1 Pkgs Belgian Saison (Wyeast Labs #3724) Yeast-Ale

It’s also the beer that I dumped the peaches into, havent tasted that yet, perhaps early next week. I’m worried that it will either be so good that I’ll never be able to replicate it or it will be so bad I may never want to brew again. I just can’t see my “Undoubtably Peachy” being just OK.

A very zen beer, so far I’m at this or my Saison 2011 as the recipe recomendations, perhaps some palm sugar in this recipe and we could be ok. Or the magnum pearle combination with this malt bill?

More thinking and brewing in store I think.

Cheers D


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Bottling fruit beer 3

Well its done. The “Undoubtedly peachy” my peach infused saison is now in the bottle. This will no doubt in either be:

  1. one of the best beers I have ever made
  2. the worst brewing experiment I’ve ever done, not even worthy of pouring down the drain, using to rinse oil stains off the garage floor or feed to drunken iron man challengers at “O” week.

So my full process for making a yet to be proven successful fruit beer are as follows;

  1. make some wort
  2. add some yeast
  3. when the ferment is in full flight, at least 24 hrs in full kraused add the fruit of your choice. I added peaches at the rate of 1kg to 9litres. This was based on listening to the Brewing Network where a range of US and Belgian brewers seemed to average out at a pound per gallon, thats about a killo per 9 litres. The fruit I added was verry ripe, simply cut in half and I left the pits in. Any idea of sterilising the fruit with alcohol or sanitiser just sounds stupid to me and the belgians dont do it so why should I.
  4. let the beer ferment out as normal.
  5. taste the beer.
  6. once you think its done rack the beer off the fruit and yeast.
  7. let it sit for a few days to ensure that its fully fermented.
  8. bottle or keg it as you normally would.

I dont know what happens next as I havent gotten there yet. The beer had an interesting white skim on it, only slight but perhaps it was the beginning of a pelicle? perhaps this sucker is going to go funky in the bottle? I dont know, only time will tell, still it taste’s nice and peachy right now.

So everyone please cros your fingers that I am not woken in the night by the sound of exploding bottles any time in the near future. That wouldnt be fun.

That will do for now.

Cheers D

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