Brew Day: Independence Saison

written in belgian, brewday, recipe, saison

Today I brewed a variation on a recipe that I’ve worked on for some time. This beer is being brewed for a special professional event. I’ll be given the chance to talk about the brewing process, and given the audience is engineers and bio-medical scientists I might dive into water chemistry and focus on that.

I was asked to bring what I consider to be “my best brew.” This is of course a terrible question to ask a brewer, just like a dad doesn’t have a favorite child. Right, right? So instead I thought about who the audience is, what the environment is like, and what I thought they’d like the most. There will be other homebrewers and there will be a prize for best beer, so let’s aim for that! In this case, I think I’ll be pouring beer to engineers who are open to some experimentation but aren’t really familiar with the breadth of flavors that exist in beer, so I wanted to step a bit outside their comfort area while still bringing something approachable and very drinkable for many palettes. I had to stay away from harsh or aggressive flavors, but want it to be exotic enough to leave an impression. Things like barley wine, double/tripple IPAs, Imperial stouts, might be a bit too aggressive for this purpose. On the other hand Pale Ales, Pilseners, or Kölsh might be too safe. I decided to go with a saison that has enough of an edge to be interesting, but might be familiar in other ways such as color and hop profile. We’ll see how this goes!

This is a beer I’ve brewed a lot before and I’ve gone through a great deal of experimentation before arriving at a flavor profile I really loved. I’ve gone through various yeast strains and hop varieties. I particularly love the introduction of american citrusy hops with the french saison strain, so we’ll be using lots of that.

To play homage to the all-but-the-kitchen-sink tradition of farmhouse ales, I added just a bit of flaked rye to this recipe. I’ve always had some flaked wheat in there too, yielding an awesome, white long lasting head.

It is still a very light grist, and based on the success of using acidulated malt in a recent brew, I decided to add some of that here as well. Unfortunately that didn’t turn out very well (read more below!), so I will be reducing or removing that completely next time I brew this beer.

The recipe is:

Batch Size Boil Time IBU OG FG ABV
6g 60m 72 1.065 1.006 7.8

Note that IBU is estimated, as First Worth Hopping IBU contribution is unknown.


Start with RO water. Treat strike water with:

Name Amount
Gypsum ¾ tsp
Calcium Chloride 1 tsp
Phosphoric Acid 0.5ml


Name Amount Percent
Belgian Pilsen 12.5 lb 90.1%
Flaked Wheat 8 oz 3.6%
Flaked Rye 8 oz 3.6%
Acidulated Malt 6 oz (use less! See below) 2.7%

Mash at 151F for 90 minutes.

Hop schedule

Variety Time Amount Form
Sorachi Ace FWH 1oz Palletes
Mt. Hood 60m 1oz Whole Hops
Mt. Hood 15m 1oz Whole Hops
Citra 5m 1oz Whole Hops
Saaz 5m 1oz Whole Hops
Citra Steep for 15m 1oz Whole Hops
Saaz Steep for 15m 1oz Whole Hops


Name Amount Use
Whirlfloc 1 tablet 15m left in boil
Golden Candi Syrup 1 lb 10m left in boil


Name Lab Attenuation
WY3711 French Saison WYeast 77 - 83%

Brew notes

July 3, 2015

I treaded RO water per the recipe, lowering strike water pH to 6.1. Strike water was at 162F, and the mash ended up at 146F. I quickly heated up some water and added it in to raise the temperature to 151F.

Initial reading of the mash pH was 4.9. The acidulated malt present in the mash, along with the phosphoric acid used, the very little buffering capacity in my RO water, and the calcium added with the salt treatments, lowered the pH way too much. Next time reduce or remove acidulated malt from grist! To solve this, I added NaHCO3 (Baking soda) in half teaspoon increments until the mash adjusted up to 5.2. I added a total of one teaspoon and the pH was spot on. Crisis adverted!

I mashed for 90 minutes, and fly-sparged for 40 minutes. I collected 8 gallons of wort as I expect a lot of loss to the whole hops and the long boiling time. Fired up the kettle and 17 minutes later I got the hot break. At this point I started the 90 minute boil.

Had a nice rolling boil for 90 minutes, adding hops and other additions per the recipe. Ended up with 6.5 gallons in the kettle.

Chilled and collected 5.5 gallons of wort in the fermenter, spot on.

Pitched the yeast starter that I had prepared the previous day, and set it to ferment at room temperature, about 68F.

Measured OG was 1.065

July 26, 2015

Kegged beer and left it at room temperature. FG was 1.006. ABV is 7.8%