Today’s hop topic brings me to my current infatuation…. SAISONS (aka. farmhouse ales).
I seriously find myself asking “Where have they been all my life?”.
After brewing my own (Saison in the Sun) using a simple grain bill, rehydrated apricots, Nelson Sauvin hops, and a Belle Saison yeast, I’ve absolutely fallen in love with this category of beer. Nearly devouring what I brewed in July, I’ve got a 6 gallon batch (using a different apricot from Costco – a bit more caramel to it), and another 1 gallon batch that I boiled with tiny purple plums from a tree in our yard (smells amazing and looks purple).
Like many farmhouse and wheat beers, the yeast truly is the star of the show. You can take the same base product, change up the yeast and now you’ve got something completely different.
Yesterday’s stretch in my saison journey took me to an Atwood Ale Triticale Brett Saison, that had been hanging out in my cellar. Bottle conditioned, it had been racked on February 6th so it was a bit young for a brett. Which ultimately led to my disappointment, as I really should have left it another year or so to finish. Being rather new the whole brettanomyces (aka. brett) scene, I’m chalking it up to ignorance and curiosity. Either way I should have just waited.
You see, brett is a strain of yeast that can ferment over a l-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ng period of time, changing the character of the beer as it chews away at the sugars. Much like a good wine, waiting a couple of years for a brett to finish up is not uncommon.
Outside of my own saison (which is spectacular), I’ve also come across a few recent notables that are worth mentioning.
- Dead Frog Brewer’s Special Brett… Available only on tap at the new Dead Frog brew pub in Langley, BC, it was a very nice farmhouse ale. An ultra small batch beer, that sa for nearly two years before kegging. Lots of good flavour and just the right amount of funk.
- Driftwood FarmHand Saison… Very similar to the saison that I brew, it’s a totally crushable beverage. I could drink this all day long.
- Vieille Provision Saison Dupont (2016)… Going straight to the saison motherland, this is a fabulous ale. True to its heritage, the regional yeast spawns a beautifully light, fruity beer with a hint of funk.
- Dageraad The Bright Side Saison…. Dageraad brought back a boatload of farmhouse ales from various brewers that were at the UBC Farmhouse Ale event in July. I popped in and tasted a flight and was blown away at the variety. Although none were from Dageraad, they themselves make a number of really nice saisons. Recently enjoyed The Bright Side that screams lemony goodness.
I’m super excited about the saison we worked on for the brew club this weekend. We’ve pitched a wild yeast, and will be putting it in a wooden barrel for a year. Can hardly wait.
So I sign off, as thirsty as ever, and wishing you many good beers in your journey.