Summer is upon us, and it is damned hot. This is the sort of weather prime for light, easy-drinking beers. But I’m not much of a fan of light adjunct lagers, and instead I prefer to turn to low-alcohol “funky” beers. But one problem that arises when formulating low-alcohol variants of styles such as saison is a lack of complexity and flavour compared to their higher-alcohol versions. This is a recipe which utilizes a combination of its grain bill, GMO’d yeast to produce acidity, and an expressive saison yeast, to produce a 3.5% ABV beer with the depth of flavour of a traditional saison…in just 2 weeks!
The concept behind this saison is simple. Use wheat and a touch of Caramunich to create a malt bill with some complexity. I originally wanted to use rye instead of wheat, but I was out of rye malt so wheat would have to do. Then ferment this using sourvisiae yeast to generate some tartness and an aggressive saison yeast isolated from La Moneuse Saison to create a flavourful beer.
This is a simple beer to brew, but there is one difficult step – getting the ratio of sourvisiae and saison yeast correct. Too much sourvisiae and this beer will become much to sour. Too little and the beer will not exhibit tartness. I didn’t get this quite right, with the 1:4 ratio of sourvisiae:saison yeast that I used producing only a light tartness. I was hoping for something closer to the sourness you’d get in moderate-aged barrel aged beers. When I rebrew this (which is happening the day after this post goes up) I’ll be reducing that to a 1:1 ratio.
Petite Saison d’ete – Recipe
- Volume: 20 L
- IBU: 26
- SRM: 5
- OG: 1.037
- FG: 1.010
- ABV: 3.5%
|2.25 kg||Pilsner Malt||68%|
|0.91 kg||Wheat Malt||27.5%|
|0.15 kg||Caramunich I||4.5%|
|12 g||Warrior, 14.2% (60 min)||23 IBU|
|15 g||Hallertauer Mittelfrueh, 4.4% (10 min)||3 IBU|
|1.0 L starter||La Moneuse Saison (Sui Generis Brewing #LYB 240)|
|0.25 L starter||Lallemand Sourvisiae|
- Beer was mashed for 90 min at 64.0 C, and sparged to collect 29 L of pre-boil wort.
- Wort was boiled for 60 min, with Warrior hops added at 60 min, and Hallertauer Mittelfrueh and Whirflock at 10 min.
- After the boil the wort was chilled to 20 C and the yeast pitched.
- The beer was fermented for 2 weeks at 20 C, swapping the blow-off tube for an airlock after ~1 week of fermentation.
- The beer was kegged and carbonated at 30 PSI for 24 hours, for ~2.4 volumes of CO2.
Petite Saison d’ete – Tasting Notes
Appearance: Golden body, slightly cloudy, with a fluffy white head.
Aroma: Smells like a saison – bready, with a hint of fruit and earth.
Flavour: The malt and yeast notes are exactly what I was hoping for – bready and grainy notes from the wheat and pilsner malts, while the caramunich provides enough body and “maltiness” to keep the beer from being watery. The hops provide a modest bitterness that keeps the flavour profile dry and crisp, while also providing an herbal note to the beer. The yeast character is where this beer is not quite where I want it to be. The saison yeast I used in this beer is amazing – highly expressive, producing the traditional saison flavours of fruity esters alongside earthy phenolics.
However, the hoped-for sourness is largely lacking, with the beer only slightly more acidic than would be normal for a saison. I had also envisioned this beer as a rye saison, in order to get a bolder earthy and grainy character. But alas, I was out of rye malt. I think that addition would further increase the complexity and character of this beer.
Mouthfeel: Light body, effervescent, with a lingering hop bitterness in the aftertaste.
Overall: This beer is pretty good for a 3.5% ABV beer brewed in just two weeks! Almost as complex as a proper saison, but light and easy drinking for hot summer days. As I mentioned in the opening, I am rebrewing this beer shortly, with two minor changes: rye malt in place of wheat malt (and likely a larger percentage of rye), and a 1:1 (or perhaps even 2:1) ratio of sourvisiae:saison yeast. Look for that post in 2-3 weeks!