Christopher S. Wood, PhD
NJ/SC Collaboration Saison Tasting
It is almost Summer time, which means it is just about saison time…those funky refreshing farmhouse ales we all love and enjoy. I haven’t brewed a saison in quite some time, but I am in luck because just a few days ago I received a FedEx package containing two very large bottles of saison from fellow byo.com blogger and homebrewer Richard Bolster. A few months back Richard and I embarked on the first ever byo.com blogger collaboration beer (or at least the first blogged about collaboration beer!). In this North to South collaboration I provided a wild yeast strain native to South Carolina and some hops while Richard provided the malts, water and the manpower to make this collaboration beer a possibility. For more details on the origin of saison and the recipe for our collaboration brew check out Richard’s “New to homebrew” blog.
Similar to what is done during homebrew competitions, when I evaluate a beer I spend at least 3-4 minutes on each of the critique points in the following order: 1) aroma, 2) appearance, 3) flavor, 4) mouthfeel and 5) overall impression. This timeframe allows me to let all of the characteristics develop so that I can properly assess the beer. In many instances the subtle nuances of each of these evaluation points also becomes more prominent as the beer warms up. This order of evaluation is also highly important; for example, aromas can dissipate over time so evaluations should be done immediately. Now on to the tasting…
Aroma: Funky and spicy phenolic aromas are present but not dominating like I would have expected with this wild yeast strain. Some ester fruitiness persists; orange and clove aromas are prominent. No real hop presence is detected even though the recipe used 1 ounce of Cascade in the last minute of the boil. In my experience this lack of hop aroma can occur when using certain strains of wild yeast for primary fermentation.
Appearance: This beer is amber in color and cloudy with dancing effervescent bubbles. A nice white rocky head persists and it looks incredibly refreshing.
Flavor: This beer is very dry, has a light malt characteristic and is highly carbonated; all appropriate to style. Fruity esters are prominent with the initial taste but these fade into a slight lingering astringency.
Mouthfeel: Medium body with high carbonation and an effervescent creaminess. Low to no alcohol burn is present.
Overall: This beer is good but the slight astringency sticks with me after drinking it. The astringent taste suggests that some of the grains were soaked in water that was too hot providing some tannins to the beer.
Overall this beer is a refreshing example of a saison. It is well attenuated (dry), highly carbonated, unfiltered, with some expressive fruity and spicy yeast character. On a second version of this beer we will make two changes: 1) increase the fermentation temperature to the mid 80s to let the yeast character become more pronounced. 2) carefully monitor the temperature of the water that the grains are soaked in. I think these changes will make this beer absolutely perfect. Overall, I consider this first collaboration brew a huge success and can’t wait to work with Richard for the next one.
Happy Saison Brewing Scientists.Last modified on