Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Saison without "saison yeast"

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by bulletrain76, Jan 16, 2013.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. bulletrain76

    bulletrain76 Nov 6, 2007 California

    Which other Belgian yeast strains (if any) have you found to be good for brewing saisons, other than those that are actually named "saison something-or-other"? Do you think this style needs a specific yeast, or is it about the overall recipe?
  2. CASK1

    CASK1 Jan 7, 2010 Florida

    I always stick to strains identified as "saison". I think the spicy, peppery, fruity character, along with the crucial dryness are a result of using the right yeast. I can't imagine other strains pulling that off.
    pointyskull likes this.
  3. scurvy311

    scurvy311 Dec 3, 2005 Louisiana

    If you wanted to try, perhaps Ardennes 3522? Adjusting fermentation temps could possibly get you close.

    I agree that the Saison strains are the way to go.

    I have been pitching a 1800ml starter of wy3724, then pitch a smack pack of wy3711 at the midway point of fermentation to finish it out. I can't make enough of this beer.
  4. VikeMan

    VikeMan Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    IMO if there's a style mostly defined by its unique yeast strain(s), it's saison.
  5. bulletrain76

    bulletrain76 Nov 6, 2007 California

    I've never been completely happy with this idea. Other Belgian styles are brewed with a wide spectrum of yeasts, and possibly even some that have more in common with different saison strains than the saison strains themselves right? Have we become blinded by the yeast companies?

    I think Fantome is a good example. Where do you think their yeast came from? What makes their beer saison if not the yeast? I also see a huge different between wyeast Belgian Saison and French Saison.

    I've had decent results with 3552 Ardennes at higher temperatures but I still love the flavor of Dupont yeast. I realize that we have taken that flavor as the definition of saison (generally) but I wonder if this is a mistake and we are defining the style too narrowly around dupont. There have to be yeasts from other Belgian saison brewers that probably have to be cultured from bottles.
  6. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    IMHO the aspect of yeasts that are ‘labeled’ as Saison yeasts that distinguish themselves is that they are highly attenuative and result in very dry beers. You can indeed make a beer similar to a Saison with other Belgian yeast strains (e.g., 3552) but they will not result in very dry beers (which I believe is a defining feature of a Saison).

    Of course the beauty of homebrewing is to do whatever you like; it just is a matter of how close to style you want to be.

  7. yinzer

    yinzer Nov 24, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Well .. I guess that I'm just born to be a contrarian.

    While traveling in Belgium I find most of the Saisons are more like Saison D'Erpe-Mere - KleinBrouwerij De Glazen Toren than Saison DuPont. I'd almost call them a dry Triple with sometimes a bit of funk and/or pepper.

    But what yeast to use? I'm not sure. Maybe a mixed fermentation?
  8. mcc1654

    mcc1654 Mar 20, 2011 Illinois

    I believe Fantome uses a bier de garde strain. I think it's available from wyeast as 3725.

    Edit: I realize that it would be a French strain and not Belgian.
  9. yinzer

    yinzer Nov 24, 2006 Pennsylvania

    I know either (or both) the brewer from Fantome or DuPont has made posts on BA. Might of been in the Benelux forum. Maybe someone could post his NIC?
  10. mcc1654

    mcc1654 Mar 20, 2011 Illinois

  11. sergeantstogie

    sergeantstogie Nov 16, 2010 Washington

    Not that I have used it, but BRY 204 sounds like a good choice, do they let their grads have yeast?
  12. Ilanko

    Ilanko Aug 3, 2012 New York

    You can use WLP001 or US-05 and then on a secondary, use champagne yeast to dry the beer out further. I am sure it's not the best way to do it, but i have tested my self and i was happy with the result.
    The champagne yeast is idea that i have picked up from the book "Brewing Classic Styles" form the Saison recipe.
  13. flayedandskinned

    flayedandskinned Jan 1, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    Saison yeast is what makes a saison a saison. Other wise it'll just be a spiced belgian ale.


    Sorry had to say Saison one more time.
  14. MaineMike

    MaineMike Jan 22, 2011 Maine

    You could use a saison yea... errr nevermind.
  15. yinzer

    yinzer Nov 24, 2006 Pennsylvania

    The Saisons's from Brasserie de Jandrain-Jandrenouille, Cazeau Saison - Brasserie De Cazeau, Saison D'Erpe-Mere - KleinBrouwerij De Glazen Toren, etc. - that's pretty close to what they are. Dry Ales w/phenolic flavors sometimes wheat and funk.

    OP, you might want to look over the WL style chart.There are comment on using WLP410 w/a Saison yeast, WLP530 and WLP550.


    Edit: I just looked through the book "Farmhouse Ales"

    Recommended yeasts:

    WLP565 (of course), WLP550, WLP400, WLP570, 3724 (of course) 3522, 3463, 3864.

    FeDUBBELFIST Oct 31, 2009 Pennsylvania

    I just made a Saison with 3463. Single hopped with Calypso. Here's the write up from Wyeast:

    YEAST STRAIN: 3463 | Forbidden Fruit™

    A widely used strain in the production of Witbier and Grand Cru. This yeast will produce spicy phenolics which are balanced nicely by a complex ester profile. The subtle fruit character and dry tart finish will complement wheat malt, orange peel and spice additions typical of Wits.

    Flocculation: Low
    Attenuation: 72-76%
    Temperature Range: 63-76F, 17-24C
    Alcohol Tolerance: 12% ABV
    Styles: Belgian Specialty Ale, Witbier

    While it doesn't mention Saison specifically, I think you can get there with high attenuation and fermentation temps.
  17. VikeMan

    VikeMan Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Champagne yeast is fine to finish fermenting any simple sugars if the main yeast has crapped out (due to high ABV or whatever). But it's not going to produce bone dry beer if there is any significant maltose/maltotriose left. Anyway, I think the character of WLP001 is about as far away from Saison character as you can get in an ale yeast. But I'm not the one drinking the result.
    warchez and NiceFly like this.
  18. pweis909

    pweis909 Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    You might be interested in tracking down various Zymurgy articles written by Drew Beachum (drewbage here at BA), or perhaps he will chime in on this thread. In the article I have in mind, he compares about 5 or 6 yeast strains for making saison. Repeating something like the experiment he did would be a cool club/group activity

    In America, it seems like our perception of this style is based largely on Saison Dupont, which I believe is a wonderful beer. Yinzer's comments above about examples in Belgium suggest the we are perhaps too narrow on this point. When I read Farmhouse Ales, by Phil Markowski (with historical commentary by Yvan DeBaets) I gained the impression that these beers historically could have encompassed a much broader profile range than they do now. They didn't necessarily brew with isolated strains and they probably had some lactic character, and possibly some Brett character. If you want to go that route, you have a full palette of options - the various WLP and WY Belgian and bug strains, plus East Coast yeast if you can get your hands on it, bottle dregs from commercial styles, etc. You can brew seasonal variations on the style for the rest of your life.
  19. Ilanko

    Ilanko Aug 3, 2012 New York

    Or just get yourself proper yeast. I wonder how SAFBREW T58 DRY ALE YEAST will work ?
  20. reverseapachemaster

    reverseapachemaster Sep 21, 2012 Texas

    Although I prefer the character of saison yeast, they are not so far removed from other Belgian strains, particularly wit strains.
  21. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Below is a nice write-up by DunkelFester in a past thread concerning his preferences for Saison yeast strains:

    “Yeah - as I said in the other thread, I don't like 3711 much either. In order of preference, I would choose:

    ECY14 Saison, Single Strain: This pure strain leaves a smooth, full character with mild esters reminiscent of apple pie spice. Apparent attenuation 76-78%. Suggested fermentation temp: 75 - 82° F. AVAILABILITY: Spring / Summer

    ECY03 Farmhouse Brett: Saison brasserie blend (ECY08) with a pure Brettanomyces isolate from a small but fascinating producer of Saison. Produces a fruity and funky profile with some acidity gradually increasing over time. Apparent Attenuation: up to 80%. Suggested fermentation temp: 75-85°AVAILABILITY: Spring / Summer

    ECY08 Saison Brasserie blend : A combination of several Saison yeasts for both fruity and spicy characteristics accompanied by dryness. Apparent Attenuation: up to 80%. Suggested fermentation temp: 75-85° F. AVAILABILITY: Year round

    (keeping in mind that, in my experience, the apparent attenuation values cited above are all low. last batch with ECY14 was ~ 90% after 10 days).

    If I can't get any of those, then:


    And if I can't get ANY of the above? I'd brew something besides saison before I'd reach for 3724!”

    DunkelFester likes this.
  22. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    "I'd brew something besides saison before I'd reach for 3724!”"

    Is that because you can't get it to attenuate fully...or because you don't like the flavor?
    (not even sure that was your quote)
  23. afrokaze

    afrokaze Jun 12, 2009 Arizona
    Beer Trader

    I used the Wyeast 3522 Ardennes in my last beer, a hopp saison with honey. Even at the lower range of its ferm temps, it still made a dry spicy saison with a nice black pepper note.
  24. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    The above quote about 3724 is DunkelFester’s opinion (not mine).

    Below is another quote from DunkelFester detailing why he personally is not a fan of 3724:

    “Nobody said anything about having to have it bottled and drinking in 2 weeks, and I've let sours ferment in my cellar for a year without thinking about them. My point, simply, is that even after all of the waiting - 3724 never 'wowed me' in any way with the result in the way (for example) that my first batch fermented with 3726 did. And 3726 took a fraction of the time. Yes, some things take time. But if I can make (imo) a better, more desirable product in half the time (or less) - is that bad solely because it's faster??”

    Permit me to make my own opinion of 3724:

    · I liked the Saison that I homebrewed with 3724; I thought it had a nice balance of spicy and fruity flavors.
    · I disliked the length of time it took to complete primary fermentation (4-5 weeks while fermented in the 80’s)
    · I was not fan of worrying about whether 3724 would stall out on me

    I made a Saison in the summer of 2012 using White Labs Saison III (WLP585) yeast. That beer was the best Saison that I have ever made! I really liked how that beer tasted.

    I have made over a dozen batches of Saison using a wide variety of yeast strains over the many years: Brewtek CL-380 (many batches with this yeast), 3522, 3787, 3711 (many batches with this yeast), 3726, 3724, ….

  25. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    I liked the Saison that I homebrewed with 3724; I thought it had a nice balance of spicy and fruity flavors.
    · I disliked the length of time it took to complete primary fermentation (4-5 weeks while fermented in the 80’s)
    · I was not fan of worrying about whether 3724 would stall out on me"

    I agree with 1 and 3, but mine didn't take any longer than a normal beer in primary (3 weeks)
    I was probably overly cautious...and didn't use a big maltbill or a lot of unfermentables...it finished @ 1.003 and fermented @70*F
    anyway getting ready to brew another and will use a different yeast...not because 3724 sucked...I just want to try other yeasts
  26. JimmyTango

    JimmyTango Aug 1, 2011 California

    My $.02--

    The Dupont strain makes super tasty beers that tastes like our “standard” for the style (which may or may not be a sentiment unique to those of us living stateside). I also have had plenty of examples of Saisons that are quite different from Dupont, commercial and homebrewed, some of which I think are great and some not so much. I’d say they all have fruity/ spicy/ dry/ and somehow “rustic” characteristics that set them apart as Saisons as opposed to “Belgian Blonds” or “Golden Ales” (which are also often crisp, fruity, spicy, and dry but somehow lack the rustic quality that sets a beer apart as a Saison or “Farmhouse.” So yeah, in response to the OP I’d say that many of the other commercially available Belgian and Wit strains could make great Saisons, either by utilizing higher than normal temps and large percentages of simple sugars in conjunction with some adjunct to get it super dry (lower than 1.005), or by adding some Brett to take the FG down (and to up the farmy-ness), or some combination of the two.

    I actually just brewed a beer that was 17%Rye Malt and 83%Pils with a second generation blend of WY3711 and WLP Brett C that I am fermenting in the mid 60s. I plan on it finishing below 1.002 (the same yeast blend went to 1.002 in 3 weeks last time in the high 60s and made what has become a great Saison after some aging.). Not so fruity, not so peppery, but plenty spicy with a lemony edge from the Brett that lends that rustic Saison thing.

    Bottom line to me is that it is a pretty broad style. When you put two drastically different beers like Saison Rue and Dupont Avril next to each other and compare and contrast you’re not left with a lot of similarities beyond the dry finish and super expressive yeast. However, despite their dis-simalirity I don’t think many folks are going to argue that they both fall squarely in the Saison camp thanks to that good old rustic/ dry fermentation profile.
  27. MrOH

    MrOH Jul 5, 2010 Maryland

    Since everyone is talking about their favorite saison strains, I'll add my two cents.

    565: Only used it once, but I enjoyed the results
    3711: I've used it a few times, pretty flat on its own, works well with lots of late hops or spices, and definitely improves with age
    3724: Good for that "classic" taste, I think that mash bill and temp are the most important parts of dealing with this yeast, but then again, I just kinda "set it and forget it" in a warm room for a few weeks
    3725: Ferments well, throws off a grape-like ester that a wine guy would describe as "foxy", sorta like most NA native grapes have. Didn't get much phenol from the four beers I've used it in.
    3726: Doesn't attenuate as well as the others, but will get down there if treated well (again, a mash bill/temp issue). Esters/phenols are great once it sits for a while and the bubblegum fades. Makes a better biere de garde than 3725, as well, if you ferment cool enough.
    1581: I've seen it suggested for saisons, and while I think its a pretty decent belgian all-rounder, I don't think it would give off enough flavor for one. Worked well in the dubbel and belgian stout I used it in, though.
    JimmyTango likes this.
  28. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    “3726: Doesn't attenuate as well as the others, but will get down there if treated well”

    I have only used 3726 once and in that experience I did not get a super low final gravity. My Saison with 3726 was OG = 1.064 and FG = 1.007. That beer tasted dry enough for me and I really like the yeast produced flavors; I would describe that them as fruity/spicy/earthy (in that order). I really wish that Wyeast would make this a year around yeast; it makes a very tasty Saison and that yeast strain is not fussy.

  29. OddNotion

    OddNotion Nov 1, 2009 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Have you used this strain? Or for that matter has anyone else here? I have a starter going for it now (old bottle of yeast but stepping up and making a big starter) and wanted to know what the results have been like?

    It smells really odd as it is right now but I feel that is to be expected. Almost bready/funky/mildewy (not sure mildew is really the correct descriptor here). It is slightly off putting but then again im dealing with just dme water and yeast on a stirplate oxidizing as time goes on.

    Ill be making a low gravitysaison about 1.034OG to be ready in time for late spring (many grains cant think of them all offhand) and using styrian goldings and saaz as my hops.
  30. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    No, I have no personal experience with ECY03 yeast. DunkelFester’s description sounds yummy though: “fruity and funky profile”. The two f’s; you can’t go wrong with that!

    You are lucky that as a New Jersey resident you have ready access to the East Coast Yeast Strains.

    I sort of have experience with the ECY14 strain since that yeast is the same as Brewtek CL-380. I really, really liked the Brewtek CL-380 strain. It does not produce a complex Saison but I always thought my Saisons made with that strain were Goldilocks type beers: just right!

    OddNotion likes this.
  31. barfdiggs

    barfdiggs Mar 22, 2011 California

    Not a complete answer, but I did a Saison with ECY08 (no Brett). It is incredibly citric, almost like orange rind (Touch of lemon) with a touch of peppery-ness I associate with Saison Yeast, and incredibly dry (Too dry), although that was most likely the result of the grain bill (Had some pils extract & Candi Sugar lying around, wasn't sure about pils extract fermentability so I used way too much Candi Sugar): 75% Pils/Pils Extract, 5% Flaked Wheat, 5% CaraMunich, 15% Candi Sugar (Clear) (O.G. 1.065 F.G. 0.992).
    OddNotion likes this.
  32. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    "F.G. 0.992" Wow! That is dry!!

    The only beverage I got close to that dry was a cider which had a FG = 0.094. You even got drier than that cider! That Saison must have been uber dry!

  33. OddNotion

    OddNotion Nov 1, 2009 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Thanks for the input. "ready access" is not quite the case unfortunately; though I have been lucky in the past couple of months (right place right time). This stuff is really hard to get a hold of!

    I am hoping fruit and funk will be produced in a low gravity beer in about a 4 month timeframe. Time will tell and I can report back if anyone is interested. If this one hits it right like your Brewtek strain then maybe I can get another batch or two out of it with any luck!
  34. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    "... right place right time."

    Yup, sometimes luck beats skill!;)

    OddNotion likes this.
  35. telejunkie

    telejunkie Sep 14, 2007 Vermont

    Bulletrain, did you get your question answered yet?

    i would say you need to do a pilot test batch on your own. I would pick-up a basic saison strain, a basic belgian strain, then try say an american strain or belgian strain with maybe a red wine yeast strain mixed and ferment all along the same temp profiles. That's what i'd do as a first test run.
  36. VikeMan

    VikeMan Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Why the red wine strain?
  37. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    "In fact, I doubt I will ever use WLP565 (or any other derivative) again for brewing saisons."

    I said the same thing about 1028 the first time I used it...but I refused to let a yeast kick my ass! : )

    Might try the 530...sounds interesting.
  38. barfdiggs

    barfdiggs Mar 22, 2011 California

    I wonder why ;)
    domtronzero likes this.
  39. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    WLP-013 is the same as WY-1028...a good British strain. If you live in S.D. I can understand the dearth of Wyeast products. I order more WL products here, as they are smaller and cheaper to ship. I lived in S.D. for 30 years...unfortunately before Craftbeer took off. Cheers
  40. pweis909

    pweis909 Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    I've heard speculation that the dupont strain evolved from a red wine yeast - an idea that could explain it's temperature needs. It sounds testable with genetics, but I don't think I've ever heard a truly informed person ever confirm this.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • 10 Years of BeerAdvocate Magazine

    We're celebrating 10 years of BA mag with $10 print subscriptions for US residents!