Fruit-Forward Saison with a Dash of Funk

by Luke Shropshire | Updated: April 2, 2016

Clove, banana, peppercorn, and bubblegum. Yep, talking about yeast phenols. Sure, these all sound great, and of course are a necessity for certain styles, but is it just me, or do lots of these aromatics in the beer distract you from the other tangibles?

To me, I feel that phenols often overpower the other aromatics of beer, e.g. the mild fruity esters common from most yeast.

But why should I give up so easily? Being a sour/wild Brewer, I am always looking for new yeast strains from different banks and heard favorable things about East Coast Yeast.

Finding a yeast to pick was difficult after seeing all the goodies that were offered. But when I saw “farmhouse blend” which was described as “fruit forward with light funk from Brett,” I thought to myself… yes please!

Yeast


So why pick a saison? Well, it’s one of the easiest styles to brew; all you need is pilsner malt, a noble hop, a saison strain of yeast, and boom you have it.

But why keep it that simple? Homebrewing is about tinkering, after all.

Looking around my garage, I found a few pounds of rye malt I used on a past Rye IPA. I didn’t want to let it go to waste, so I decided to take this plain jane beer and doll her up

dingmans malt

I only use malt from the same country of origin as the beer, because it’s hard to make authentic European beers with American heirloom malts.

When it comes to hops, I pick varieties that work in unison with the chosen yeast. Not knowing the flavor profile I’d get from the yeast, but expecting a fruitier outcome, I decided to stick to a somewhat “traditional” saison hop schedule. A soft bitterness could be achieved with saaz and flavor/ aroma could be best achieved with a hop I’ve used before on past Saisons: Sorachi ace.

Rye Saison

Stats

O.G 1.055

Est. FG: 1.014

ABV: 5.39%

IBUs: 23.5

Efficiency: 94%

Batch Size: 5.5 gal

Malt

7# Dingmans Pilsner (82.4%)

1.5# rye malt (17.6%)

Hops

.75 oz Saaz 60 Minute

.5 oz Sorachi Ace 5 minutes

.5oz Sorachi Ace 1 min

Yeast

East Coast Yeast Farmhouse Blend (ECY03)

Process

1. Dough in with strike temp to achieve 149f mash at a rate of 1.25-1.5quarts of water per pound

2. Rest for 60 mins, then single decoction mash out*

decoction mash

3. Sparge until 7 gallons are collected and boil at rate of evaporation of 1 gallon an hour for 90 minutes to end with 5.5 gallons. (I collect and extra half gallon to account for loss of beer from trub)

4. Add hops at designated times

5. Knockout to 68F, aerate with O2 and pitch yeast

6. Allow free rise

Evalation

The beer finished much lower than my beer software expected, ending at 1.001.

Aroma: The beer’s aroma is very fruity with a tinge of funk. Aromas of pears, apples, and a hint of citrus. This is then followed by the classic “horse blanket” aroma from the Brett, but it is in no way offensive. Light peppercorn phenols enhance the spiciness from the rye malt.

Appearance: Dark gold, with a massive head and long retention, slightly opaque clarity.

Flavor: The flavor is very bright. The aromatics follow through into the flavor, with a slight sweetness. The flavor from the Brett is quite mild, and doesn’t taste of horse blanket. The rye is very subtle, but present.

Mouthfeel: Light body, but with a dry finish and great acidity. No astringency. Very spritzy carbonation which scrubs the palate after every sip.

Overall: Overall, I loved this beer! The fruity aromatics, the lack of phenols, the sweaty aroma from the Brett all played perfect together. I will be re-brewing this one for sure.
In conclusion, there is only one tweak I would do to the next brew. As I did allow a free rise, my house was fairly cool during the periods of the fermentation, most likely allowing the yeast to reach a thermal temperature of no higher than 70 F.

I would add a heat blanket on low to see if i could get even more character from the yeast, shooting for a temp around 80F. I loved the fruity aromatics and low funk, which was exactly what i was exactly what I was looking for. For anyone wishing to brew with this yeast, check out love2brew.com to purchase the yeast strain.

Cheers!

Head retention

*I’m a big advocate of first running’s decoction mash out. From doing this, my efficiency has gone up to an astonishing 94%. This is is what works best on my system. I like to bring the wort to a boil, then add back to the mash for about a 10 minute rest, then continue on.

Luke is a native to Cincinnati, OH, where he is the Lead Brewer at Streetside Brewery, located in Columbia Tusculum. He enjoys to brew all styles of beers but his favorite are New England style IPA's, Gose's and Berliner Weisse's. Some of his notable accomplishments are being a BJCP National Judge, Certified Cierone©, and highly awarded homebrewer.