Sunday, October 9, 2011

Saison du Sam (Blackberry Saison)

Its good to bet back to brewing what might be my favourite style of beer, the saison. The saison is a beer traditionally made in the french-speaking region of Belgium for the workers bringing in the harvest.
I've brewed it a few times before, making both a basic, traditional version and an off the wall version made with parsley, rosemary, thyme, and sage. Both beers went over well and both won ribbons in local homebrewing competitions. This time on the suggestion of my girlfriend I decided to add some fruit to the brew (hence the name). The tartness of blackberries seemed like they would go well with the tart, refreshing nature of saison, so Sam and I made a mission down to Elk Lake a couple weeks back to hit up the berry patches growing around the lake. The berries were ripping if you could find the spots and 2 hours, 8 pounds of berries, and half a dozen wasp stings later we were in business. On the recommendation of the head brewer at Phillips I froze the berries to break down the cell walls, then warmed them back to near room temperature to avoid shocking the yeast, and added them into the secondary. The beer itself I decided to make a little bit on the darker side of the style as a fellow beer blogger suggested this might go better with the berries. I wasn't sure how to achieve this as I didn't want to have toasted or bunt flavours in the beer, so after consultation with a local brewer I decided on Belgian Special B malt, as the raisin-like character it imparts should go well with the flavour from the berries. As an added twist I decided I would split the batch, adding blackberries to one and keeping the other as a control batch of sorts. It should be interesting down the road to try the two beers and compare the effect the fruit has had on the beer.
Blackberries ready to go

Transferring one...

...and then the other

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