Sunday, November 30, 2014

Petite saison rebrew tasting notes

Setting up for the tasting.
With this batch of petite saison I wanted to work out yeast blend ratios. There were 4 treatments total:
A) 70% Wyeast 3724, 30% Wyeast 3711
B) 90% Wyeast 3724, 10% Wyeast 3711
C) % Wyeast 3724, % Yeast Bay Wallonian Farmhouse, % Wyeast 3711
D) 90% Wyeast 3724, 10% Wyeast 3711 (though at a lower pitching rate than the above treatment) with additions of Yeast Bay Lochristi Brett blend and Wyeast 5223 Lactobacillus brevis

To mildly confuse things, I had labeled the bottles of treatment A 60/40 blend and the bottles of treatment B 80/20 blend based on what I though I did during blending, but as I found out from calculating my blends it turned out to be about 70/30 and 90/10 respectively. Through tasting these beers on their own I had formed some general opinions of how I felt about them and how they compared but in order to really figure out what the blend ratio did I needed them side by side. So I set up a somewhat blind tasting. I knew the beers - the three 'clean' (no brett/lacto) treatments form above plus my previous batch of petite saison, leaving out the brett and lacto petite rebrew treatment (D from above). And I poured them myself so I knew a bit about appearance. But then they were re-arranged and arbitrarily numbered for me given to me a minute or two later.

From tasting these beers individually while knowing what they were (and maybe pouring them, though with the exception of the previous batch with a different grist and therefore color, the differentiating characters were mostly taste and aroma based) I was able to correctly identify the different blends but it ended up being hard to determine which was the 90/10 blend and which had Wallonian Farmhouse. They were identifiably different but not necessarily in a way that I could pin to the yeast blends. I am not very familiar with Wallonian Farmhouse at this point and that probably contributed.
The poured glasses. As you can see there are some visual differences
Glass #5 (later revealed to be treatment A from above, the 70/30 blend)

Aroma: Peachy and floral with mild lime stand out. This one has more green fruit (in a slightly under-ripe way). There is a nice minerally character that is pleasant. This has a mild peppery spice and mild apple and it is more herbal than the other glasses

Appearance: Large white head, great retention, nice lacing, clear brilliant copper

Taste: Tangy lime, thinner flavor than the others with sour and green fruit. It has a dry finish and comes across medium-bitter. Overall the flavor is green and under-ripe fruit forward with low pepper.

Mouthfeel: fluffy light body with high fine carbonation, the carbonation feels a bit higher than the other blends and the body may be a bit thinner, but that might be influenced by carbonation.

Overall Impression: 3711 beers have an identifiable character to me that I would describe as green slightly under-ripe fruit with yeast. I know that's sort of a poor description but I don't really know how to convey the flavor. Either way that is what I identify with 3711, and this beer has more of that than the others. From that I was able to identify it as the 70/30 blend. It was the most 'green' and had less peach and orange citrus. There was a nice tang and spice but I want more 3724 flavor in the balance overall.

Glass #12 (later revealed to be treatment C from above, the blend with Wallonian Farmhouse)

Aroma: There is more 3724 character overall and the beer is more doughy/bready with mildly tangy citrus and tropical fruit (like mango). The aroma has a bit of a character I associated with stressed 3724. It has a sweeter aroma and is more tart than the others.

Appearance: Medium head, lower than #5, the head is a bit chunkier, brilliantly clear pale copper

Taste: Tangy citrus fruit, unique, peach, doughy/bready, unique tropical fruit in this treatment. 3724 character is in there but it is less identifiable than in other treatments, it comes across crisper than #9 (which might be influenced by the tangyness). Nice but it could use a bit more hop character.

Mouthfeel: Fluffy body, nice high fine carbonation

Overall Impression: Great citrus and tangy fruit. The character is a bit like what I got out of a saison brewed with Logsdon Seizoen dregs a while back (sidenote, this Logsdon dregs beer was what I sent to the first round of the 2013 NHC which came out a fair bit different from what I sent to the final round). This version is a bit more reigned in than that Logsdon version. The fruit is unique and different from what I usually get. I think this is the Wallonian Farmhouse version and #9 is the 90/10 but it is hard to tell.

Glass #3 (later revealed to be the previous batch of petite saison)

Aroma: Floral, fruity candy, pear stands out. The classic Dupont aroma is there. There is nice malt and a stronger noble hop character but also some slight oxidation.

Appearance: Slightly paler and more of a golden color than the other three glasses. Large white head with great retention and nice lacing.

Taste: This has more of the classic Dupont floral character with a touch of pleasant sulfur. It has a dry finish with nice hop charatcer and a light tangyness. The hop flavor in this one is good and is more in line with what I am looking for out of this recipe.

Mouthfeel: Fluffy/creamy body with high fine carbonation. Less tangy than #12. The hops contribute nicely to the body.

Overall Impression: The other glasses are missing this hop flavor and I like the Dupont-esque mild sulfur. The fruit is slightly more restrained in this and I really like that. It is still pronouncedly fruity but is a bit more refined. Maybe over-expressed fruit is what I mean when I talk about stressed 3724 character. At it's prime this version was the best. I may still prefer this malt bill to the malt bill I used in the re-brew.

Glass #9 (later revealed to be treatment B from above, the 90/10 blend)

Aroma: This version is the funkiest and is seems complex than the others. Strong peach and 3724 character. There is a nice doughy character in the aroma. There is a bit of stressed 3724 with strong floral. A bit of sharpness almost like what cheddar has and if I didn't know what went in here I could believe that there was some mild Brettanomyces.

Appearance: Very similar to #12 with a low white head and good retention.

Taste: Strong fruityness dominated by the classic peach character I associate with 3724 and a mild green fruit that I associate with 3711. There is a touch of brett-like funk and doughyness and a touch of sulfur in the finish (though it is less smooth and pleasant than what I find in Dupont saisons). Nice citrus fruit (tangerine) and floral. Nice malt character but I want more hop flavor and bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Great creamy/fluffy body. High fine carbonation. I want more hop character.

Overall Impression: The darker color in glasses #5, #12 and #9 compared to #3 is nice but I'm not sure the darker malt bill benefits the flavor. Maybe I'll go back to the original malt bill. And if I decide I want the darker color maybe I'll add a bit of Carafa-type malt for color adjustment. The perception of funk is nice here and I'm not sure where it is coming from. It could be that something else got in, and if so it's pleasant, but I'm not convinced about that. It could also be a combination of the tangyness, malt and slight sulfur. In the 4 tasting this is my preference, but only slightly.

The revealed identities of the saisons.
Closing thoughts: Overall these were very similar. that may not be reflected in my notes because I was looking for differences. Especially the 90/10 and Wallonian Farmhouse bottles. With what remained in those bottles I compared them head to head and may slightly prefer the Wallonian Farmhouse in a 2-way tasting. I should redo a 2-way tasting to test that. The WF batch is slightly more assertive than the 90/10 due to the tangy citrus and tropical fruit. One theory I have for this at the moment is that in a 4-way tasting I might be tasting more for what I think is the best saison for my palate but in a 2-way tasting I might choose the beer that stands out pleasantly. Looks like I have to do a new 2-way for these two.


  1. Very interesting read. Have you tried 90% Brett + 10% 3711 for primary?

  2. Hi Olof, thanks for the comment! That's a cool idea. Especially if you have a nice brett strain around that is a bit more fruity and less funky. So far I haven't done that but it sounds like it is worth a try. I have done blends with 3724 and brett, using the brett sort of like how I use the 3711 to make sure the beer finishes out if/when the 3724 crashes. But for my brett saisons I usually add a blend of sacch yeasts close to the pitch rate I would do if I wasn't using brett (but usually a little bit less) and then I will also add brett and/or bacteria in the primary at the same time as the sacch. I'm happy with how that works out. I get expression from the brett in combination with the saison yeast character. But I think your idea would be a good way to go as well.

  3. I think one have to pitch a very healthy and active Brett pitch. Otherwise it could end up being a stressed 3711 fermentation. I'm not sure it's a good idea but after reading this post it got me thinking. And now I want to try it =)