Author Topic: French-style Saison help requested  (Read 4456 times)

Offline cmbrougham

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French-style Saison help requested
« on: March 10, 2014, 07:05:54 PM »
A little background first:

I'm working on a documentary that will be premiering on the 70th anniversary of D-Day; it examines the impact of Dwight D. Eisenhower during the Normandy invasion, as well as the rest of the European WWII campaign, and how that led eventually to his presidential career. The producer is doing a local premiere of the film, and we asked our local brewery to provide us with a few options, but they're not sure they'll be able to do so. Good thing I homebrew, right?

I thought I'd try to do a few beers for the premiere that would commemorate the various locales of resistance and battle: a British bitter would be one, a Belgian wit is another, and I'd love to do something fitting to the French countryside. I'm think this would be a perfect case for a saison. I'm planning on using the Wyeast 3711 French Saison strain as it seems to be particularly non-fussy and should be just the ticket.

Problem is a recipe. I want to keep it simple, and culturally relevant. I'm guessing Strisselspalt would be the hop of choice (or Saaz or similar--I can make the case for them being French-grown). What to do for the malt bill, though? Pilsener malt (I'll get MFB) and maybe some malted/unmalted wheat? Seems that is all that is needed, based on most of the recipes I've looked at. This is the beer I really want to shine of the three, so I'm looking for some real insight--I've not brewed a saison before.

Thanks!

Offline brewfun

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Re: French-style Saison help requested
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2014, 08:11:21 PM »
Sounds like an exciting project!

Consider reaching out to Ron Pattinson. He's far more aware of what ingredients would've been available both pre and during WWII.

As far as I've read, the state of brewing under German occupation was dismal to non-existent in both France and Belgium. Many metals were confiscated, which included mashtuns and kettles.

Interesting factoids: British production grew from 1938 to 1945, from 24.5 million bbl, up to 32.6 million bbl. In the same time, average OG fell from 1.041 to 1.035. You may draw your own conclusions.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: French-style Saison help requested
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2014, 08:49:35 AM »
not sure if it would be historically accurate but given the nature of farmhouse brewing and the nature of war related shortages I wonder about experimenting with some chestnuts or similar as part of the grist.

Farmhouse brewing, like much country cuisine, is about using what is available and chestnuts are a classic french country forage and foodstuff.

There was an article in Zymurgy a last year I think about brewing with chestnuts as a gluten free ingredient but it would be much easier with some pils malt in the mix. the pils will provide the enzymes needed to break down the starches in the nuts.

In terms of wheat, this is not at all historically accurate but I really like flaked kamut in a saison. it give a lovely toasted wheat/wheaties flavor without the slightly phenolic plastic notes I get with a lot of flaked grains.
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Offline cmbrougham

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Re: French-style Saison help requested
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2014, 07:22:06 AM »
brewfun: That's a good idea--I may do that, even if only for my own edification. For this particular exercise, I think I'm going more for spatially appropriate, rather than temporally accurate--in other words, "in the style of." But I'm definitely all about digging into the historical basis for brewing. In fact, I'm going to be making some batches for a another documentary premiere we'll be having this summer, specifically on Ernest Hemingway's formative years that were spent in the area in which I now live. We're talking 1910s to early 1920s, so pre-Prohibition and Prohibition-era beers are in order, methinks. There's a local restaurant/bar that takes pride in the fact that Hemingway drank there--and in the basement, the proprietor was known to bootleg. There are actually tunnels underneath our town that were used as escape routes :)

morticaixavier: Funny you should mention chestnuts. I've actually brewed two chestnut brews now, the first of which is documented here (should be a link to photos of my brew session as well): Chestnuts in a <fillintheblank>. I brewed a v1.1 of this beer the weekend before last with some modest tweaks, and used Wyeast 1968 London ESB--it's done fermenting as far as I can tell but there is still some mild activity (bubbles fizzing up from the yeast cake now and then), so I'm letting it finish itself. I now have almost 125 pounds (!!!) of the chestnuts in my garage, and I have convinced our local nanobrewery to do a 1BBL batch using my recipe (which a few modifications to account for their malt availabilities)! I'm pretty excited for this. It's not a gluten free beer (though I am thinking of drying and processing a bag of the chestnuts to make a GF beer for a friend who is celiac), but the processing of the chestnuts brings out a very unique quality. I based my recipe formulation primarily on use of chestnuts in Italian brewing, particularly in the Piedmont region. So, theoretically, I could also add a chestnut-based beer to the roster to account for the Italian campaign in WWII. Thanks for the input!

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: French-style Saison help requested
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2014, 08:42:41 AM »
brewfun: That's a good idea--I may do that, even if only for my own edification. For this particular exercise, I think I'm going more for spatially appropriate, rather than temporally accurate--in other words, "in the style of." But I'm definitely all about digging into the historical basis for brewing. In fact, I'm going to be making some batches for a another documentary premiere we'll be having this summer, specifically on Ernest Hemingway's formative years that were spent in the area in which I now live. We're talking 1910s to early 1920s, so pre-Prohibition and Prohibition-era beers are in order, methinks. There's a local restaurant/bar that takes pride in the fact that Hemingway drank there--and in the basement, the proprietor was known to bootleg. There are actually tunnels underneath our town that were used as escape routes :)

morticaixavier: Funny you should mention chestnuts. I've actually brewed two chestnut brews now, the first of which is documented here (should be a link to photos of my brew session as well): Chestnuts in a <fillintheblank>. I brewed a v1.1 of this beer the weekend before last with some modest tweaks, and used Wyeast 1968 London ESB--it's done fermenting as far as I can tell but there is still some mild activity (bubbles fizzing up from the yeast cake now and then), so I'm letting it finish itself. I now have almost 125 pounds (!!!) of the chestnuts in my garage, and I have convinced our local nanobrewery to do a 1BBL batch using my recipe (which a few modifications to account for their malt availabilities)! I'm pretty excited for this. It's not a gluten free beer (though I am thinking of drying and processing a bag of the chestnuts to make a GF beer for a friend who is celiac), but the processing of the chestnuts brings out a very unique quality. I based my recipe formulation primarily on use of chestnuts in Italian brewing, particularly in the Piedmont region. So, theoretically, I could also add a chestnut-based beer to the roster to account for the Italian campaign in WWII. Thanks for the input!

cool. Now I gotta find some chestnuts. farmhouse season is coming up here in northern california. I have no idea if I can get locally grown chestnuts though. hmmm
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Offline cmbrougham

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Re: French-style Saison help requested
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2014, 08:45:50 AM »
PM sent :)