The Benefits of Revising Homebrew Recipes

BYOB by | Jan 2018 | Issue #131
Illustration by Miranda Harmon

Revision has a bad rap in our world. Maybe it’s flashback memories to the number of times your mean, old English teacher returned a paper with comments like, “This is a good first draft! Needs revising.” Some of you just got twitchy. Don’t lie. But revision is good for your soul and your beer.

In that spirit (and in the spirit of the New Year), let’s revise a classic recipe of mine: Saison Ete. Wrong season, you say? No season is wrong for a classic Saison!

My original recipe (available online) had Pilsner, wheat, Vienna, and acidulated malt along with Candi Sugar. This new version keeps the Pilsner and wheat. My preference these days is to get the color and toast from a Caravienne and plain ol’ sugar. The hops also change from Styrian and Saaz to Magnum for bittering and Styrian for finishing to remove 40 percent of the vegetation from the old hop bill.

The biggest changes are one of subtraction and one of addition. First, no spices. Now that we have proper yeasts and proper fermentation practices, there’s enough juice to keep going. Speaking of yeast, the addition to the recipe is using multiple Saison strains and a Brettanomyces. I like the complex interplay of the two strains; they complement and reinforce each other. I also like a low level co-pitch of Brett to give an earthy background to the beer like Saison Dupont.

All of these changes come from years of brewing and refining my vision of flavors. Make it a goal this year to embrace a little homebrew editorial help!

Saison of Revision
For 5.5 gallons at 1.067 OG | 35 IBU | 5.4 SRM | 7.7% ABV
90 minute boil

8.0 lbs Belgian Pilsner
3.0 lbs German wheat malt
1.0 lbs Belgian Caravienne
1.0 lbs table sugar

Single infusion at 148°F for 60 minutes.

0.75 oz Magnum | 12.5% AA | 60 minutes
1.5 oz Styrian Golding | 5.5% AA | 5 minutes

Pitch all three into primary fermentation:
Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saison (1 package)
White Labs WLP565 Belgian Saison I (1 package)
Wyeast 5112 Brettanomyces Bruxellensis (0.5 package)