Every year, the Post Modern Brewers hold a “weird saison” competition. It’s the highlight of the year, with our members pulling out all the stops. Due to the pandemic, we had cancelled our other competitions this year and have been holding our meetings virtually. But we couldn’t skip the saisons, so we masked up and held a socially distant tasting session outdoors.
This year there were some truly weird saisons: a smoked peach saison, a purple butterfly pea flower saison, and the return of the infamous lobster saison (why waste water when you can boil lobsters in your wort!). Out of a field of six, it was my entry that took first place: a saison with lemon peel and fermented on strawberries. Not all that weird, but a declicious, winning combination.
All credit for the idea goes to Lauren, whose first suggestion was clearly the best. Also, this beer is built off of the saison recipe from Brewing Classic Styles by Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer.
|Styles||Saison (BJCP 25B)|
|Batch Size||5 Gallons|
|Light DME||6 lb||8°L|
|Cane Sugar||1 lb||0°L|
|Wheat Malt||1 lb||2°L|
|Munich Malt||0.75 lb||9°L|
|Caramunich Malt||2 oz||56°L|
|Hallertau||1.75 oz||4.5%||60 min|
|Hallertau||0.75 oz||4.5%||0 min|
|Lemon Zest||2 oz||Boil||5 min|
|Strawberries||6 lb||Secondary||7 days|
|White Labs WLP 565 (Belgian Saison I)||1 package|
|White Labs WLP 566 (Belgian Saison II)||1 package|
I ended up using a mix of fresh lemon zest and dried lemon peel, since I didn’t have quite enough fresh lemons on hand. I used frozen strawberries, letting them thaw at room temperature before adding them to the beer. And I ended up mixing two different yeasts, since the homebrew shop only had one of each! Don’t want to buy twice the yeast? Try making a yeast starter.
Bring three quarts of water to 155°F and steep the grain for 60 minutes. While you’re waiting on the grain, zest your lemons. Sparge the grain with three quarts of 170-190°F water (for me, a tea kettle and a half), top off with two more quarts of water, and bring the wort to a boil. While heating up, stir in the malt extract and cane sugar.
Once boiling, add 1.75 oz of Hallertau hops and boil for an hour. In the last five minutes of the boil add the lemon zest. When the boil is done, turn off the heat, toss in the remaining 0.75 oz of Hallertau hops and stir for a few minutes. Remove the hops, chill the wort to ~72°F, transfer to your fermentor, top off with cool water if needed, and pitch the yeast. Of course, don’t forget to take your initial gravity reading!
After a week, it’s time to add the strawberries! Thaw your strawberries at room temperature before placing them in a clean fermentor (I used a bucket). Transfer the wort to the second fermentor and let it rest on the strawberries for a week. After the week - or when the strawberries look gray and gross - the beer is ready to bottle. Make sure you filter out the strawberry pulp!
I’m incredibly pleased with this beer. The lemon zest adds some brightness, the strawberries a smooth sweetness, and it’s all rounded out by the classic saison “funk.” And in the opinion of several folks in the homebrew club, it’s a winner!
|Appearance||Hazy, yellow gold, off-white head, fizzy.|
|Aroma||Tingly, bright, berries, citrus.|
|Mouthfeel||Bubbly, slightly astringent, semi-dry.|
|Flavor||Sweet, sugary, lemon, berries, pepper, spice, a little yeasty funk.|
|Overall||A+, a balance of all elements, greater than the sum of its parts.|
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