Vive La Pêche Saison

The weather finally turned nice in Seattle and I hadn’t brewed anything yet in 2017, so I thought I’d take advantage of the 80+ degree weather for this long Memorial Day weekend and try brewing a Saison. I figured it will be nice to have on hand for the hot days ahead.

I’ve also been interested in making a Saison with Wyeast 3711 (French Saison), which has a lower temperature range than Wyeast 3724. It was 3724 (Belgian Saison) that led to the infamous Exploding Saison disaster.

To make things interesting, I want to add peaches during fermentation, so this is going to be a Peach French Saison–Vive La Pêche.

Results

Overview

Starting gravity (actual): 1.050
Starting gravity (expected): 1.050
Final gravity (actual): 1.004
Final gravity (expected): 1.008 (or lower)
ABV ~6%

Recipe

I’m mostly following the simple recipe for brewing a Summer Saison at Homebrew Academy. Instead of the Vienna Malt I opted to go with Rye Malt, hoping for something more dry. I also had to make a few hop substitutions, but nothing too drastic.

Malts and Sugars

0.9 lbs crushed Rye Malt
3 lbs Pilsen Light DME
2 lbs Wheat DME (65% Wheat / 35% Barley)

Hops

0.35 oz Fuggle pellet hops (4.2%) 60 minutes
0.5 oz Willamette pellet hops (4.9%) 60 minutes
0.45 oz Fuggle pellet hops (4.2%) 20 minutes
0.7 oz Czech Saaz pellet hops (2.2%) 20 minutes
0.45 oz Fuggle pellet hops (4.2%) 0 minutes/flameout
0.7 oz Czech Saaz pellet hops (2.2%) 0 minutes/flameout

Other

6 lbs fresh peaches

Yeast

1 pack Wyeast 3711 French Saison

Despite the first hops being added at 60 minutes, this was listed as a 90 minute brew. Otherwise it is pretty straightforward.

The Fuggle and Willamette hops were both roughly a year old, but have been kept in the freezer. Cellar Homebrew didn’t have the Styrian Golding hops that I wanted so I just used all my leftovers. The math on the hop AAUs worked out to be pretty much dead on what the recipes called for.

Brewing Notes

Timeline

Brewed May 28, 2017
Peach puree added June 18, 2017
Bottled June 27, 2017
Tasted July 14, 2017
  • Partial mini-mash
    The Rye malt needs to be mashed, similar to the Vienna malt in the Summer Saison recipe. I put the Rye malt in a grain bag and steeped it in water on the stovetop, keeping the temperature close to 150°F. After an hour I pulled the grain bag and added the wort to the hot water in my brew pot before bringing it to a full boil and adding the rest of the malt.
  • Tilt Hydrometer fail
    I tried to use my new Tilt Hydrometer but after checking that the battery was not dead, it doesn’t seem to be giving off any readings. I should have also made sure that the app was connected before dropping it in the carboy. Maybe the battery actually is dead.
  • Peach puree
    After two weeks of fermenting I cut and puréed roughly 6 lbs of peaches. I put them in a plastic bucket and transferred around 2.5 gallons of beer onto the peaches. I blanched the peaches in boiling water for about two minutes in order to easily peel the skin off, but otherwise did not heat the purée for sterilization.
  • It was terribly difficult to bottle
    I should either have left the peaches as large chunks or put the purée in a mesh grain sack to make it easy to remove. I probably lost a gallon or more of beer because the small peach pieces kept getting clogged when bottling.
  • Blending
    As described in BYO’s Fruit Brew Techniques, I only transferred around 2.5 gallons of the fermented beer onto the peach puree. I intended to gradually blend the some of the original, non-peach beer with the peach version until the ratio was right. But that takes a lot of time and patience, of which I have little. So I ended up just blending in about one gallon of the non-peach beer and calling it good. That left me with about a gallon of the original brew for comparison.
  • Tasting
    I waited longer than usual both before bottling and before tasting to make sure it had plenty of time to ferment and carbonate. It seems to have worked. The gravity got all the way down to 1.004.

    I tried the non-peach version first and the first bottles are carbonated and tasty. It’s nice and dry with a bit of a fruity taste from the yeast. Happy with how it’s turned out.

    I have mixed first impression of the peach version. It isn’t very carbonated and I’m worried that the ratio of the carbonating corn sugar water might have been off. The taste is ok, but I feel like the peach flavor hides some of the nice dry flavors of the non-peach version. The result is not bad, but also not as exciting. I’ll try another bottle in a couple of days and re-evaluate. Hopefully it shapes up because I have nearly 3x as more bottles of the peach version!

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