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Summer’s Midnight Saison – A Black Saison Recipe

Hard to pick a first recipe for a brewing blog, but here it is – summer in all it’s sweltering Texas glory. So I deal with summer brewing session saisons. I have been drinking a few and reading quite a bit about the history, and seldom does the past match the present. Farmhouse ales, however, are all the rage. I had just finished a crisp 10G split batch that came out too clean, no pepper or spice from the yeast, but managed to salvage by putting half of the recipe onto sour cherries. FYI – the cherries added back in that something missing.

I also had just met Mark Schoppe at a recent Zealots meeting and tasted 4 side by side comparisons of Saison yeasts. Mark had actually let these roll through 90+ degrees to ferment, and came out fantastic. Fascinating. AND I had just harvested some yeast from Ommegang’s Hennepin saison. Had a full 2 liter starter ready to go. Time to make a saison. Too lazy to make a new “Yeast” in BeerSmith – so ignore that element in the recipe below.

I wanted something very different, and had read that much of the variability of farmhouse ales was really about fresh available ingredients and occasionally unusual things would find their way into the grist. With some odd volumes of dark malt hanging around, I decided to go dark – had some D-180 candy sugar sitting around as well, but kept the OG low – not even come near a BSG. Session, not aged. There have been lots of examples of a dark or black saison. I took the same basic grist from my normal saison and swapped only a few things out. I added in a touch of Crystal 120, some red wheat (head retention), and finally some de-bittered black malt. Too much black malt I should admit – was hoping for something less inky at the end. I took a portion of my honey and subbed out the 1# of D-180. Added the honey during primary fermentation and dry hopped on a little bit of Apollo (thought it helped the citrus element stand up).

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 11.06 gal
Post Boil Volume: 10.56 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 10.00 gal   
Bottling Volume: 9.90 gal
Estimated OG: 1.046 SG
Estimated Color: 25.4 SRM
Estimated IBU: 34.9 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 73.2 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
12 lbs                Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM)            Grain         1        71.0 %        
1 lbs                 Caramel Malt - 120L (Briess) (120.0 SRM) Grain         2        5.9 %         
1 lbs                 Red Wheat (Rahr) (4.0 SRM)               Grain         3        5.9 %         
8.0 oz                Aromatic Malt (Briess) (20.0 SRM)        Grain         4        3.0 %         
6.4 oz                Debittered Black Malt (500.0 SRM)        Grain         5        2.4 %         
1.00 oz               Bravo [15.50 %] - First Wort 60.0 min    Hop           6        32.0 IBUs     
2.01 Items            Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)        Fining        7        -             
2.01 oz               Orange Zest (Boil 15.0 mins)             Spice         8        -             
1.00 oz               Hallertauer Hersbrucker [4.00 %] - Boil  Hop           9        3.0 IBUs      
2.01 tsp              Yeast Nutrient (Boil 10.0 mins)          Other         10       -             
1.00 oz               Orange Peel, Bitter (Boil 5.0 mins)      Spice         11       -             
1 lbs                 Candi Sugar, Dark [Boil for 5 min](275.0 Sugar         12       5.9 %         
2.00 oz               Saaz [4.00 %] - Aroma Steep 15.0 min     Hop           13       0.0 IBUs      
3.0 pkg               Belgian Style Saison Ale Yeast Blend (Wh Yeast         14       -             
1 lbs                 Honey (1.0 SRM)                          Sugar         15       5.9 %         
1.00 oz               Apollo [18.00 %] - Dry Hop 3.0 Days      Hop           16       0.0 IBUs      

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Light Body
Total Grain Weight: 16 lbs 14.4 oz
Name                     Description                             Step Temperat Step Time     
Mash In                  Add 19.47 qt of water at 160.0 F        148.0 F       75 min        
Mash Out                 Add 11.92 qt of water at 207.5 F        168.0 F       10 min        

Sparge: Fly sparge with 5.21 gal water at 168.0 F

Will post some tasting notes later. The batch is just into the keg for carbonation, but it tasted pretty bland and muddy going into fermentation – although the garage smelled like orangey heaven!


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