American Farmhouse Saison

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I’ve been dreaming of a crisp, dry saison for a little while now. I heard about WLP670 – American Farmhouse Blend – and got pretty intrigued about what kind of beer it would create. Some reviews have said that it is slightly cleaner (in terms of esters/phenols) than a Belgian strain, but does produce some funk/barnyard. One half gets the 670, the other gets a single vial of WLP656 Brett Brux.

  • 21.8 lb Avengard Pils
  • 0.5 lb Avengard Cara-8
  • 0.25 lb Acidulated malt
  • 1.5 oz Palisade (60 min)
  • 1.5 oz Palisade (30 min)
  • WLP670 American Farmhouse Blend
  • WLP565 Brett Brux

// Mash-in 1.6 qt/lb at 146-148 for 45 min, 158 for 10 min, 168 for 2 min. boil 90 min. Chill to 82 (coldest i could get it with the ground water in summer). Oxygenate with 60s pure O2 in each carboy. Collect 9.5 gal 1051 wort. Pitched starter of 670 into 5 gal, straight vial of the brett into 4.5 gal. Brewed 8/8/15. //

// Water: 2.5 tsp gypsym, 1.5 tsp CaCl2 in mash, 2.25/1.25 in sparge. //

Good fermentation within 8 hours of pitching the 670. Brett didn’t get started til within about 2 days.

8/15/15   Fermentation slowed quite a bit in the 670 (one bubble every 20s or so), took a sample at 1012. Really nice flavor – Great saison esters (not as perfume-y as the Belgian strain, but still very solid), and some light breaded malts. Getting a slight hefeweizen-like aroma as well – clove maybe? Earthy, herbal hops in the background with a slightly dry finish. Decided to let it go for another week since i’m going on travel for a week, and it could afford to dry out and clear up just little more. Brett still chugging away.

8/22/15  Both carboys stopped fermenting almost completely. 670 is at 1007. Similar flavors and aroma but crystal clear and super crisp malt flavor with the yeast complimenting it really well. Can’t wait to taste this chilled and carbed. 565 is still very cloudy, but took a sample anyway. Incredible aroma – slightly sour/funky with crisp apple and lemon, almost like a Berliner Weiss but less tart. Fairly sweet, but similar flavors to the aroma. Gravity at 1021 so it still needs time to work. On its way to a something spectacular, though!

THE VERDICT

WLP670 Version:

Appearance: Slight haze at first, but after two weeks in the keg it was brilliantly clear. Golden/yellow. Fluffy white head that doesn’t last very long.

Aroma: Slight peppery saison yeast aroma with a strong presence of bread pils malt and a hint of noble hops. Kind of reminds me of a pilsner. Not nearly as perfume-y and ester-y as a Belgian strain, but still has a light spicy character that reminds me of a Belgian single.

Flavor: Clean malts and saison yeast up front with a hint of hops midway through a sip. Clean dry finish that lingers with a little bitterness. Similar to the aroma – a pleasant crisp farmhouse style beer with more of a clean pils feeling rather than a saison, but there’s a touch of the spicy saison character that brings it back home.

Mouthfeel: Light and crisp, but still feels like a fair amount of body despite the low finishing gravity.

Overall: I really liked this strain of yeast but in the end it didn’t produce my ideal saison. Not enough yeast character as the classic Belgian Dupont strain, but I also fermented fairly cool and only gave it 2 weeks in the primary before kegging. I’ve read that if you give it longer there’s actually some Brettanomyces present that will start to eat away at residual sugars and create a more complex funk. That would be awesome, but I really wanted to have something on tap sooner than later. Either way, this produced a very clean Belgian style beer farmhouse beer that was crisp and very enjoyable in the summer months. The simple malt bill worked great so that the breaded pils malt and hops could also shine.

WLP565 Version:

Appearance: Super cloudy, a murky straw yellow. Pillow-y white head that last for about 30s.

Aroma: Slight funk, lemon, bright citrus without a particularly distinguishable fruit that I can think of.

Flavor: Very light pils malt and some barnyard accompanied by a similar lemon/citrus from the aroma. Not much funk. Slight acidity which adds a nice overall brightness to the beer, maybe even slight mineral-y flavor. Hops come through a little in the finish, but overall contribute some moderate bitterness and add to the dryness.

Mouthfeel: Thin and dry with spritsy carbonation.

Overall: Tastes like this could be the base of a great sour beer, but it’s not very sour and/or funky having used all Brett B.  In general it’s a fairly uninteresting Brett beer compared to the one i did previously with more American hops. The main observation I can glean from the comparison (since they were the same yeast and basically the same malts) is the difference in hops. This beer keep it pretty clean, crisp and earthy in terms of addition times and flavor, whereas the other showcased some big fruity Mosaic hops. Personally I think the Mosaic beer’s hop flavor and Brett funk complimented each other really well.

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1 Comment

Filed under All-grain, Balanced, Funky / Sour, Saison, Summer

One response to “American Farmhouse Saison

  1. Matt Gibson

    Just did my first farmhouse on Monday. Made an American farmhouse which includes 2lbs flaked corn. Plan on raising fermentation temp during second week to see what happens. Cheers!

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