Petite Saison with Tart Cherries

>> Sunday, August 02, 2015

I wanted to try out the Wyeast 3031-PC Saison-Brett Blend, so today I'm brewing a Petite Saison that will get around 7 pounds of my homegrown tart cherries in the secondary. I really enjoy Saisons and other Farmhouse Ales. Usually I make my Saisons fairly high gravity, but the goal with this one is to come in a bit more session-able. The addition of the tart cherries will probably also make it somewhat kriek-like. This beer won't get any lactobacillus or pediococcus, so the only souring will come from the tart cherries.

Wyeast describes 3031 as follows:
Beer Styles: Saison, Belgian Specialty Ales, American-style Sour & Wild Beer, Strong Golden Ale
Profile: A blend of Saison yeast and Brettanomyces creates a dry and complex ale. Classic earthy and spicy farmhouse character meets tropical and stone fruit esters; aging brings elevated Brett flavor. Expect high attenuation with this blend.

Alc. Tolerance          12% ABV
Flocculation              low
Attenuation               80-90%
Temp. Range             65-80°F (18-27°C)
Based on the ferm temp range, I'd guess this is the 3711 French Saison strain blended with one of Wyeast's Brett strains.

Here's the recipe I came up with. I want this beer to finish dry, but not too thin, so I'm going with a step mash. Also adding some Chit Malt for some starch so that the brett will have something to chew on for a while. Hops-wise I'm shooting for low bitterness with a touch of flavor and aroma. I've used the Golden Naked Oats in a Saison before, and I really liked the berry/nutty character it added.

5.5# German Pils
1.25# Chit Malt
1.0# Flaked Rye
0.5# Golden Naked Oats
7g CTZ - 30 min
14g Citra - 5 min
3031 PC Saison Brett Blend
Whirlfloc
Yeast Nutrient
7.0# Tart cherries in secondary

Target O.G. 1.053

Mash
Mash at 149F for 15 min, raise to 155F for remainder of mash. I added 2.5ml of phosphoric acid to bring the mash pH to 5.39.

Fermentation
Chill to 65F, then let free-rise to 80F.

Water 
Nothing too scientific this time. I used 6 gallons of carbon filtered tap water cuht with 3 gallons of RO water. 3 gallons in the mash, sparged to 6.5 gallons pre-boil volume.

Brewing Notes
No real issues, But I did forget to take my OG before pitching yeast. I was trying to hurry and wrap things up so I could go drop off my entries for the Beehive Brew-off and totally forgot. I also decided to skip O2...just an experiment to see what happens with the brett character (some have reported more funk when the yeast are stressed).

Update 8/13/2015
Primary fermentation seemed to have finished up, so I racked onto 7# of homegrown tart cherries yesterday. Cherries had been stored in the freezer then thawed and sanitized with 1/8 teaspoon of potassium metabisulfite dissolved in 1/4 cup RO water. This sat overnight then beer was racked onto the cherries in the morning. I mashed the cherries as much as I could, but there were still some whole ones.
Update 8/26/2015
Pulled a sample today and I'm really liking this beer. The "Saison" character is really nice.  Esters are there and blend very well with the tart cherry character. There's a light spiciness that's noticeable, but subtle and very complimentary. Brett character is also there but very balanced. I'm interested to see how this changes over time. The tart cherries dropped the pH to 3.68 so it's a nice level of acidity especially since it doesn't have any lactic acid producing bacteria. I can't wait to get this in the bottle and carb'd up. This beer will definitely be in my regular rotation when I have tart cherries on hand.

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