The Following is an excerpt from Farmhouse Ales: Culture and Craftsmanship in the Belgian Tradition by Phil Markowski. (Currently available at Barley’s):

” Ask ten Belgian brewers, “what is a saison?'”and you’ll likely get ten different answers. Nearly all will give a response that is tauntingly vague.    “it must be refreshing,” some will say. “They must be low in alcohol,” others will insist. Least specific, they might reveal, “It is a beer made for the season.” These vague and varied  descriptions will frustrate anyone foolish or stubborn enough to try to pin down these wildly complex, deceptively simple rustic ales originally made primarily on farms in the French-speaking southern half of Belgium. Saisons defy easy categorization and are sometimes rife with contradiction… this elusive quality is precisely their allure; they represent endless possibilities within a lose structure. In short, with saisons, almost anything goes.”

Now that summer is finally here, maintaining ale fermentation temperatures can be potentially problematic. Sometimes it’s easier to just brew a beer that matches the season instead of trying to match your fermentation temperature to the beer. Saisons are usually happy to ferment at high temperatures. Here are some examples below. Availability varies:

Strain – Fermentation range

Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saison – 21C to 35C

3711 French Saison –  18C to 25C

White Labs WLP565 Belgian Saison I – 20C to 24C

WLP566 Belgian Saison II – 20C to 26C

WLP568 Belgian Style Saison Ale Yeast Blend – 21C to 27C

WLP585 Belgian Saison III – 20C to 24C (Available after Wednesday July 10th!)


…and while we’re on the topic of high fermentation temperatures. Brettanomyces and souring bacterias are also active up to and above 30C. Consider brewing a Lambic, Flanders Brown (Oud Bruin) Flanders Red, or Gueuze. Extended conditioning periods (often 6 month up to 3 years) means the best time to start a Sour is yesterday! …or last year! For more information on brewing with Brett and Bacteria, consult Wild Brews by Jeff Sparrow (available at Barley’s).

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