Black saison

I have four brews going, and it’s always smart to have an empty fermentor on-deck in case the beer needs to move to secondary, but I can’t wait.  I haven’t brewed in two weeks, and I’ve got the itch.  I’ve also got a packet of Belle Saison that needs to get used before the yeast lose viability.

With a plan for a cat beer Grisette coming up, and a cat beer brett saison already going, and two other saisons already under my belt, I want to come up with something different.

I decide I’ll do a black saison.  After reading up a bit, and going with what has been successful in previous beers, I decide to throw in a small handful of rye for spice and body, a bit of wheat for mouthfeel, and carafa III for color.  For some complexity and sweetness I decide I’ll give caravienne a try, which is a grain I’ve been curious about.  I also add a little Special B, trying to toe into some flavors I haven’t used much.  Both the caravienne and Special B are fairly common in abbey and trappist ales.  While saisons are also belgian, they usually have fairly bright, quaffable qualities, and less sweet, complex flavors like abbey and trappist ales.

I try to use some grassy and bright fruity hops, which would be at home in a golden saison with a bit of wheat or oats, and I may end up regretting putting these hops with this grain bill.

So I’m not sure if this is more of a black saison, or a Belgian dark special, and something in between.  When it’s done and I sample it, I’ll decide which it tastes more like.  Maybe the label for this one will be of a confused monk at a farm.  No ideas for a name yet.


  • 1lb 6oz USA 2 row pale
  • 3oz Caravienne
  • 3oz white wheat
  • 3oz Carafa III
  • 2oz rye malt
  • 2oz Special B
  • .1oz Kent Goldings at 60
  • .04oz Sorachi Ace at 45
  • .04oz Sorachi Ace at 25
  • .02oz Sorachi Ace and .02oz Galaxy at 5
  • 1/3 pkt Belle Saison

I knew this recipe was crazy as I was making it, and now that I’m writing it down it looks truly ridiculous.

img_60541I mashed 3 quarts in low, held at 145 for 60 minutes.  Mashed out to 170, sparged 3.5quarts at 170. Boiled for 70 minutes, hops into the spider on schedule.  Chilled to 70, shake aerated, sprinkled Belle Saison to rehydrate, aerated again.  Got amazing efficiency out of this batch,  83% (the shop I went to has my favorite mill, and I tried to stir every ten minutes without losing too much heat).  OG came in at 1.064.

Some point during all this I must’ve gotten moisture into my digital thermometer, because it was reading 107 when it should’ve been reading 74.  A few days later, it’s reading 73 when it should be reading 63.  I’ll try taking it apart and drying things, but I may already need to buy a new one.  Sad!


This fermentor went into the closet with no evap-skirt.  It’s pretty chilly right now, so the closet is hanging out at 66.  Hopefully it’ll rise soon, as this beer would do well with a slow rise from 66 to about 70, and the rest of the beers in the closet could use the ramp to finish up.  img_60631This beer has a big thick trub layer on the bottom and rising with the krausen that I’m finding common with beers with any amount of rye in them.

This’ll be an odd one.

Bottling update 2/15/17:

This beer dropped clear and quieted down about two weeks after brewing.  My love affair with Belle Saison yeast continues.  It finished at a crisp 1.011, for a final attenuation of 83%.  This is pretty consistently the attenuation I get with this yeast.  This means it finished at 7%.  That’s higher than I intended.  I’ve been getting really great efficiency in my brewhouse since I’ve fine-tuned my processes, so I may have to start scaling down how much malt I use to avoid all my beers coming in too alcoholic, and will need to remind myself of the apparent attenuation of these yeasts I’m selecting as well when developing recipes.

I decided to name this one blackXXbloc, as another homage to radical street warriors, and to hint at the fact that this is the twentieth brew packaged by Brios Brewing.


Tasting 1, 3/1/17

Oof.  This is, as predicted, a bizarre beer.  It could’ve had the carafa, OR the hop profile, but probably not both.  It’s a bit of a Frankenbeer, not in a good way.  I’m going to give it a month to mature more, and will post a second tasting.

Tasting, 3/21/17

Well, shoot.  The water in my apartment is absolutely horrible.  I’d been overthinking my water in brewing, and started using part filtered and part tap, hoping to catch some minerals to help my mash conversion.  I think instead I caught some iron from my building’s old plumbing.

Overall, this beer tastes a lot like 1554, if someone put a penny in it.IMG_6291[1]

Tasting 5/2/17

Last bottle. Time did no favors. It poured a beautiful, clear near-black with a lovely rocky head. Aroma is sharp and spicy, tastes begins a sweet/burnt, then finishes with a dry, bloody copper. 



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