The Brewer: Thirsty Ranch Brewing
In 2012, I bought a Mr. Beer kit and started brewing twice a month to keep my taste buds at bay. After years of brewing small batches, I slowly started upgrading equipment to make better and more consistent beer.
In the fall of 2020, I bought my Spike Trio 20-gallon system and have since run about 70 batches through it. I love experimenting with new flavors and the Trio (as well as the CF15s) have allowed me to crank out delicious beer for family and friends.
My garage brewery and 5-tap kegerator setup is always a talking point when hosting people, and I love showcasing the equipment and beer it produces. In addition to making beer, I also have 40 Zinfandel vines on my property that I use to make wine. I use my CF15s to ferment, fine and age the wine before bottling.
About The Conical Unitank
The Spike conical fermenter line will simplify your Brew Day from start to finish!
Plus an assortment of accessories so you can customize your conical to fit your precise brewing needs.
Each CF lid comes with three TC ports:
Blow Off Port: Dedicated port for an airlock or blow off tube
Hop Port: Dedicated port for adding hops
PRV Port: Dedicated port for your pressure relief valve (PRV)
The Beer: Saison
Earlier this year, my wife had a cocktail that contained elderflower. She loved the soft floral notes it provided and asked if I was able to incorporate it into a beer. The initial recipe I had in mind was an elderflower Saison, but I didn't want to be one-dimensional.
Ultimately, it was decided that I was going to add both hibiscus and elderflower to the beer. I've seen hibiscus beer, and I've seen elderflower beer, but I've never seen both used together!
The great thing about this recipe is that it's extremely balanced between the floral notes and yeast notes. Because the flowers are added on the cold side, you can adjust the dry hop duration so the beer is to your desired color/flavor.
The Recipe: Hibiscus Elderflower Saison
- 4.5 lbs Pilsner
- 4.5 lbs 2-Row
- 1lbs Vienna
- 0.5 lbs Aromatic
- 0.5 lbs CaraPils
- 1 lbs Sugar
- Boil Hops: 0.3 oz Citra (12% AA) - 60 min
- Boil Hops: 0.15 oz Seeds of Paradise (Crushed) - 10 min
- Boil Hops: 0.75 oz Citra (12% AA) - 5 min
Boil Hops: 0.75 oz Citra (12% AA) - 0 min
- Dry Hop: 1.6 oz Dried Hibiscus Leaves-1-2 Days @ end of fermentation
- Dry Hop: 0.8 oz Dried Hibiscus Leaves-1-2 Days @ end of fermentation
- Farmhouse (WY3726)
BATCH SIZE: 5 gal
MASH TEMP: 146 ºF
BOIL: 60 min
76ºF - 10 days
SYSTEM: Spike Trio
1. Don’t Stress. It’s Easy to Make
Hibiscus Elderflower Saison is a well-balanced beer that was designed to be crisp and refreshing for the Southern California heat. It's a fairly straightforward Saison recipe, and will likely be on rotation.
2. Stick With Farmhouse
Try to stick with the Farmhouse Ale (WY3726) yeast, as it's more balanced and less finicky than its Belgian Saison (WY3724) counterpart.
Thirsty Ranch Brewing
Spike Summarizes: All Things Saison
What Is a Saison?
Saison, a Belgian farmhouse ale, captivates beer enthusiasts with its light-bodied, fruity, spicy, and refreshingly intricate taste. This beloved beverage derives its distinct flavor from a blend of malted barley, wheat, and oats, combined with various hops for bitterness and aroma. A special yeast strain used during fermentation further enhances its unique flavor profile.
Saison is a beer that is popular in the summer because of its energizing and complex flavor. It goes well with a variety of foods by bringing out their fruity and spicy flavors. This exceptional beer is perfect for those seeking a distinctive and flavorful experience.
What Is the History of Saison?
Tracing its roots to the 18th century in Belgium's Wallonia region, Saison beer was initially brewed by farmers to sustain their seasonal workers during the sweltering summer months. With a resourceful use of available grains and spices, these beers were sometimes aged in oak barrels for up to a year.
Characterized by low alcohol content and high carbonation, Saisons were refreshingly easy to drink. Traditionally, Saisons incorporated local ingredients such as wheat, oats, rye, and spelt, alongside spices like coriander, orange peel and black pepper.
Although the style experienced a decline in the late 19th century due to industrialization and mechanization, Saison has seen a renaissance in recent decades. Craft breweries worldwide now offer their own interpretations, ensuring the style remains popular among beer enthusiasts and continues to evolve in step with modern tastes.
What Does a Saison Taste Like?
Saison beers are typically fruity and spicy, with notes of citrus, pepper, and other herbs. The flavor of a Saison beer is often described as being complex and refreshing.
What Are the Types of Saison?
Belgian Saison, a beer rooted in the Belgian farmhouse tradition, boasts a fruity, spicy, and complex flavor profile. With a light to medium body, high carbonation, and aromas of citrus and pepper, this beer was traditionally brewed in winter and stored until summer, creating a refreshing and intricate taste.
Crafted with various malts, hops, and yeast strains such as Belgian Saison yeast and Brettanomyces, Belgian Saison derives its unique flavors from these ingredients, along with spices like coriander, orange peel, and grains of paradise.
Popularly known as a "session beer" due to its low alcohol content, Belgian Saison is perfect for summertime enjoyment and pairs well with various dishes, thanks to its complex and light body.
American Saison finds its inspiration in Belgian farmhouse ales, presenting a crisp, refreshing, and complex beer with fruity, spicy, and slightly tart flavors. As its popularity surges in the United States, craft brewers put their unique spin on this classic style.
Using various malts and hops, including Pilsner, Vienna, Munich, wheat malts, and American hops like Cascade and Centennial, American Saison is fermented with a distinctive yeast strain, imparting citrus, clove, pepper, and earthy notes.
Generally light- to medium-bodied with a dry finish, this style typically features a slightly higher ABV (5-8%) and more hop-forward characteristics compared to Belgian Saison.
What Do I Pair With a Saison?
Saison beer's fruity, spicy, and complex notes make it a versatile choice for various dishes. Its flavors enhance bold cuisines like Mexican, Indian, French and Italian while also pairing well with seafood, cheese, and charcuterie.
Saison's refreshing carbonation pairs well with salads and light dishes, and its unique taste profile enhances desserts like fruity tarts and rich chocolate cakes. You can also enjoy a Saison to elevate any meal, from light salads to hearty stews.
Is a Saison a Wheat Beer?
No, Saison is not a wheat beer. Although the grain bill for a Saison beer can include wheat, it is typically made from malted barley and other grains like oats, rye, and spelt.
Is a Saison Gluten-Free?
Most Saison beers are not gluten-free. Although some brewers do produce gluten-free Saison beers, these are not widely available.
Is a Saison Beer Hoppy?
Saison beers are typically not very hoppy. The hop character of a Saison beer is usually mild and balanced with the fruity and spicy flavors of the beer.
How Much Alcohol is in a Saison?
The alcohol content of a Saison beer can range from 4.5% to 8.5%. The higher the alcohol content, the more complex the flavor of the beer.
Is a Saison a Summer Beer?
Saison beers are often enjoyed during the summer months, but they can be enjoyed year-round. The refreshing and complex flavor of a Saison beer is perfect for any season.
Is a Saison a Dry Beer?
Yes, Saison beers are typically dry beers. The dryness of a Saison beer comes from the use of Belgian yeast, which ferments the beer quickly and leaves behind little residual sugar.
What Is a Saison Beer in English?
Saison beer is a Belgian farmhouse ale that is fruity, spicy, and refreshingly complex. It is often referred to as a “summer beer” due to its light and refreshing flavor.
Is a Saison Like an IPA?
No, Saison beers are not like IPAs. While IPAs are usually very hoppy and bitter, Saison beers are usually mild and balanced with fruity and spicy flavors.
Is a Saison Hazy or Clear?
Saison beers can be either hazy or clear, depending on the brewing process. Some brewers will use a combination of yeast and hops to create a hazy beer, while others will use a filtration process to create a clear beer.