Saison is quickly becoming the style that I brew most. In the past 12 months I’ve brewed a ‘true-to-style’ version, a kettle-soured version, and a grisette (a close relation to saison). I’ve used different Saccharomyces strains for each with vastly different results, and having had a somewhat sulphurous experience with TYB’s Saison Blend most recently, I was looking forward to using a more expressive yeast for my next attempt.
White Labs’ WLP590 French Saison Ale yeast has surprisingly few reviews or tasting notes online. With this in mind, I made a slight tweak to my original saison recipe, hoping to tease out what this strain had to offer! Lacking the Motueka I’d planned to utilise, I made a last-minute substitution for Wakatu as my flameout addition. Running low on the total pilsner malt required, I also needed to include a small amount of Gladfield Ale Malt to complete the grist. Finally, I used hay in the mash on this occasion, a technique I’d been looking to try out for some time.
I don’t know what it is about the cooling step of a brew day, but this is invariably where things turn chaotic for me. On this occasion, I’d added new press-fit fittings to my counterflow wort chiller prior. These did an excellent job! (…of flooding my garage). With the assistance of my ever-tolerant, unfailingly patient fiancée, I managed to stem the floodwaters and cool the wort close to pitching temp. This beer is hence named in honour of my surprisingly invested assistant brewer.
Saint Sophie Saison
Batch Size (L): 25
Total Grain (kg): 5.13
Anticipated OG: 1.054 (1.048 prior to dextrose addition)
Anticipated SRM: 6.0
Anticipated IBU: 34.7
Brewhouse Efficiency (%): 70
Wort Boil Time (mins): 60
55.8% 3.20 kg. Gladfield Pilsner Malt
14.0% 0.80 kg. Gladfield Ale Malt
8.70% 0.50 kg. Gladfield Wheat Malt
8.70% 0.50 kg. Gladfield Munich Malt
2.30% 0.13 kg. Caramunich III Malt
10.5% 0.60 kg. Dextrose
10.00 g. Pacific Jade (Pellet, 13.5% AA) @ first wort.
30.00 g. Willamette (Pellet, 4.80% AA) @ 10 min.
42.00 g. Wakatu (Pellet, 5.40% AA) @ flameout.
WLP590 French Saison Ale yeast (one pouch)
Ca 57 | Mg 11 | Na 6 | SO4 100 | Cl 43
Hay used as a filter bed in stainless mash tun
Sacch Rest – 60 min @ 65 °C
Chilled to 23 °C. Aerated via splashing. Pitched yeast at 23 °C. Fermentation chamber set to 20 °C. OG via refractometer = 1.048 (anticipated).
9.9.19 – Good fermentation by 12 hours, high krausen by 21 hours.
10.9.19 – set to 22 °C at just under 48 hours. Dextrose added dissolved in 250 mL boiling water (gravity reading from Tilt at around 1.020).
11.9.19 – set to 24 °C at 72 hours.
13.9.19 – set to 26 °C at around 120 hours.
19.9.19 – gravity reading stable on Tilt, hence chamber set to 5 °C.
22.9.19 – beer sub-5 °C. Fined with Biofine Clear. Chamber set to 1 °C.
27.9.19 – kegged. Final gravity 1.002. ~ 6.8% ABV.
Thought to be the same strain as Wyeast 3711 (or very near to it), the recommended fermentation temperature for WLP590 is 69 – 75 °F (20.5 – to 24 °C). Bearing this in mind, I pitched low and allowed the temperature to gradually rise, as is reasonably typical for my Belgians.
As you can see in my Tilt’s log below, fermentation kicked off a bit after 12 hours, and high krausen had been reached by 21 hours. Having simply pitched the yeast pouch without my usual vitality starter, it was pleasing to see this take off so aggressively. Over the next few days my garage was filled with peach-like aromas, not dissimilar to my experience with US-05. Once fermentation was settling down I added the dextrose dissolved in boiling water, narrowly avoiding disaster as the fermenting beer foamed like crazy with the addition. The WLP590 made short work of the extra sugar, reaching terminal gravity a couple of days later. After 5 days at terminal, I crash cooled with a CO2 balloon in place, fined with Biofine Clear at 1 °C, and kegged 5 days later.
As an aside, given I slightly over-brewed volume-wise this time around, a portion of the fermented beer went into a glass carboy with a slug of Brettanomyces bruxellensis cultured from a bottle of Brasserie de la Senne’s extremely funky ‘Bruxellensis‘.
Tasting Notes 1.10.19
White Labs describes WLP590 as one of their most popular saison strains, “producing aromas of pear, apple and cracked pepper”. This is a diastaticus strain, and POF+ (hence contributing phenolic characteristics).
Very similar to my kettle-soured saison earlier in the year, this beer has a stunning bright orange haze that absolutely glows.
Mandarin, spice, and black pepper. Potentially the smallest hint of banana. A very typical, proudly saison profile.
Much of the aroma is carried through on the palate, with a very saison-esque character. The bitterness is assertive though balances the sweet esters and the alcohol in the mouthfeel. Hop character from the Wakatu can only really be described as “hoppy”. It lacks the noble character that I enjoyed from the Saaz in my last version, and which I’d intended to replace with Motueka. Next time I’ll stock my hop stores appropriately! Thankfully the small ale malt addition didn’t overwhelm the beer with any biscuity notes.
Despite finishing at 1.002, this beer tastes anything but thin. As with Lallemand Belle Saison, I suspect this strain produces a good amount of glycerol, leaving a pleasant paradox of refreshing dryness and satisfyingly full mouthfeel. The only criticism I have here is a slightly hot alcohol note, which is fading somewhat with time.
Drinkability and notes
At 6.8%, this drinks rather inconspicuously as a strong beer. As the hot alcohol notes start to fade, thankfully it starts to acquire the refreshing aspect of a saison that I think is hugely important, though perhaps less required for what Yvan de Baets describes as a ‘Double Saison‘.
All being said, the aroma and flavour profile are pretty close to bang-on for a saison, and the beer is crisp enough to demand another sip. I can’t wait to re-brew this beer with Motueka, as I think the noble hop character is all that is missing to take this to my envisaged ideal. At this stage I can’t detect any particular flavours imparted by the hay, though there’s a complexity to this brew that I wonder if the hay may be responsible for.
I’ll keep you all posted on how the Bretted version turns out. Any further dryness and funk added to this beer would certainly be welcome.