In my reading about the Saison style of beer I discovered that farmhouses in Belgium and France would typically toss in left over ingredients from their harvests and put it into their beers.
As a homebrewer the style can be fruitful because is very forgiving; from fermentation temperatures to percentage of ingredients. These items are typically particular to someone who likes the science of making good beer as much as they like drinking it.
Grains: a fellow homebrewer got a gig working with AB out of state and needed to unload a few things. One of them was a full bag of Pilsner malt at a very, very good price. The other specialty grains I had leftover from other brews. For instance, I used 3.2oz of 120L caramel malt. That made the color on target for style and was also the last of what I had “in stock”. As a matter of fact, the yeast I used was more expensive than the grains.
Honey: Another fermentable that I grabbed from my cabinet leftover from a recipe from Christmas was honey. I know full well when you add it to the boil, as I did, it leaves little honey taste. What it does do is thin out the beer as well as “goose up” the ABV. So let’s toss it in.
Pepper: Yes, pepper. This is a typical additive for the style. I spoke to two fellow homebrewers while writing up the recipe for this because I’ve tried both of their saisons and was impressed. In the meantime my wife asked me to pick up white pepper because she wanted to start using it for (food) recipes. White pepper…yeah why not. I’m the type of homebrewer that airs on the side of caution when throwing in odd ingredients. Also talking to my buds and hearing what they had to say about adding pepper, I decided to go with 1.5 tsp
Hops: I was planning on making this beer on what I call a double brew day. On this day I was going to make a Belgian blonde as well as the saison. I had ordered a few pounds of hops online and the vendor sent me 2oz of hops as a bonus. I used 1oz in the blonde and the other ounce in this beer.
Yeast: I know this is a major factor in making a saison. Again, I relied on my homebrew friends for this. They recommended Belle Saison Dry yeast. As a matter of fact my one friend exclusively uses dry yeast and loves it…so that’s what I chose.
My 2xbrew day was going well. I had my blonde boiling away first. For some reason I accidentally tossed in the bittering addition for the saison into the blonde so I needed to add more hops into this boil. I had some Willamette hops gathering some dust(no really) in my freezer, so I tossed those in to offset the bittering hops I had tossed into the blonde. So yet again, I brewed this saison to style.
I decided to keg this one. When I pulled it from the tap I could certainly smell the “barnyard funk” that the Saison yeast produces. I could even pick up some of the pepper through the funk. After a number of weeks I brought it to my local homebrew club meeting. Some fellow homebrewers mentioned that it tasted dry. I think the honey has a lot to due with that. When I tried this today (about a month after kegging) it cleared up very well (see pick). It was still dry, but the smoothness I was tasting did balance it out.