Beer Style: Belgian and French Farmhouse Ales

Includes both saison and bière de garde recipes.

Petit Saison

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The inspiration for this beer was a play on De Baets’ remarks that traditional saisons were low gravity and heavily hopped. When it was still brewed with the Rodenbach strain, De Ranke’s XX Bitter was a rough approximation of a traditional saison, but with its cleaner character today you’ll have to brew your own for a taste of history. This recipe makes for a refreshing summer beer with the gravity dialed down and aromatics pushed to the fore.


Summer Cellar BdG

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Biére de Garde’s are a remarkably flexible beer that can be brewed as a pale, amber, or brown, depending on your preferences, pairings, or the season of service. This recipe aims right down the middle in terms of the style and its color/flavor options, and is a gold-medal-winning amber Bière de Garde (at the 2012 BUZZ Off, hosted by the BUZZ Homebrew Club in West Chester, Pennsylvania).


Rustic French Ale

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This recipe will create a French-style ale that is similar to Brasserie Thiriez’s Blonde d’Esquelbecq. Brewer Daniel Thiriez recommends using French Pilsner malt if you can source it.


Bière de Garde

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Jamil Zainasheff provides readers with a recipe to brew a classic Biére de Garde farmhouse-style ale.


Saison of the Season

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Horst Dornbusch’s final Style Profile recipe for Brew Your Own magazine. This version is a bit darker and medium-bodied than the straw colored light-bodied that many come to expect from a saison. Utilizing a healthy pitch rate will assure brewers that it will not end up sweet though.


Saison Ale

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Jamil Zainasheff states “The characteristic fruity/spicy flavors and aromas of this style come from fermentation, although some brewers do add spices. While some brewers may add spices, I prefer the more subtle and complex spiciness that fermentation develops.”


Belgian-Style Saison

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This saison is very dry, with a balanced lemony tartness from the yeast. Flaked wheat adds complexity, body, and smoothness. Rye adds complexity, mainly in the form of spiciness. No aroma hops are used in this version, which focuses on the yeast and grains. For more hop character, I would recommend dry hopping with a noble hop variety or a moderate amount of Motueka and/or Nelson Sauvin.


Ricey Saison

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A saison made with rice malt or dry rice extract.


Epic Brewing Co.’s Utah Sage Saison clone

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The initial aromas are all herb, with a low floral and fruity hops aroma underneath. I didn’t perceive much in the way of grist aromatics until I took my first sip, and then it all really came together. The rich malts lingered on the tongue and the savory herbs filled the nose, with peppery phenols accenting everything beautifully.


Launch Pad Brewery’s Cape Canaveral Key Lime Saison clone

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Lactose isn’t the only twist on this saison from Launch Pad Brewery (Aurora, Colorado), which also features lime peels, juice, and leaves, as well as vanilla beans to create a beer reminiscent of a key lime pie.


Dark Winter Saison

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Saisons are traditionally a warm weather drink, but a few of us have a tradition of getting together each fall to brew a strong, dark, spiced saison. Each year’s version has a different dried fruit and dark malt. The blend of spices along with the earthiness of the Brettanomyces and buckwheat honey make for an almost savory beer. Brett C is a good complement to the Dupont strain because it helps to dry out the beer.


McKenzie’s Brew House’s Saison Vautour clone

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his is the recipe for McKenzie’s Brew House’s multi-gold-medal-winning rye saison from head brewer Ryan Michaels. It’s a good example of how a very simple recipe can result in a beer of extraordinary complexity. The clean version has a wonderful rustic character from the rye and yeast, while the barrel-aged version adds some tartness and funk.


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