Beer Recipe: “Lawn Dart” Saison

This spring I decided I wanted a nice summer beer.  I have a bit of a fascination with Belgian styles, so a moderate gravity saison seemed like the perfect choice.  I named this one after a game I used to love playing as a kid in the back yard: lawn darts.  And no, I’m not that old- there was a set in my grandparent’s shed from back before they were outlawed.  Something about giving kids and drunk people weighted objects with a 4 inch spike on the end to hurl high into the air apparently struck someone (no pun intended) as a bad idea after a couple of years on the market.  There’s just no having fun anymore I suppose.

Batch size: 5 gal/ 18.9 L

 Malt:
6 lb/ 2.72 kg     Belgian pilsner malt
4 lb/ 1.81 kg     Wheat malt
2 lb/ 0.91 kg     Rye malt
4 oz/ 113 g       Rice hulls

Hops:
1 oz/ 28 g         Mosaic, 12.7%, 20 min, 23.5 IBU
Total IBU:     23.5 (Tinseth)

Yeast:
1 tube             WLP566 Belgian Saison II

Target CO2:  3 vol

Gravity:
OG:                 1.056 (64% mash efficiency; target 1.061, 70%)
FG:                  1.012
ABV:               6% after bottle conditioning

Water:
Mash temp:          150.3F/ 65.7C (target 151F)
Mash thickness:  1.8 qt/lb/ 3.76 L/kg
Single infusion mash, single (batch) sparge
Boil time:              90 min

Calculated Profile:

Calcium 44.5 Sulfate 94.5 Hardness 112
Magnesium 0.1 Chloride 72.8 Alkalinity 61
Sodium 73.8 Bicarbonate 74.3 RA 30

The sodium is only so high because that’s what my water comes with and there’s nothing I am willing to do to get rid of it.  If I did this again, I would probably also lower the RA a bit more with some lactic acid, but the beer seems no worse for it.  It might make the fruit flavors pop a bit more if it was lower: the beer pH would be allowed to drop a bit further, and greater acidity tends to pull more out of and un-muddle fruit flavors.  There could also be more calcium.  (See my water treatment post here.)

Fermentation Temperature: 68F/20C ambient; pitched at 67F/ 19.5C; free rise to 74F/ 23.3C over 2 days; heater on, temp raised to 76F/ 24.4C over a day to remain for the rest of fermentation (brief peak to 78F/ 25.6C); all measured with cheap stick on temperature strips

Tasting Notes:

lawn dart saison

This beer has a head that just won’t stop.

Appearance: straw yellow with tints of orange from the rye- actually darker than I would have anticipated; strong chill haze from wheat and rye proteins, clarifying as it warms a bit; pours with large fluffy white head [2013.11.21 UPDATE: the chill haze has mostly settled out; this is an amazingly photogenic beer- I poured and was taking pictures for about 2 hours, and the head looked exactly the same in every single picture]

Aroma: wit/ saison aroma with hints of tropical fruit; first pours within two weeks of bottling had a bit of fermentor funk smell that cleared up with a few more days of bottle conditioning

Taste: strong pleasant wheat character, much more assertive than the barley; rye seems to blend into the wheat, enhancing it but not standing out on its own; notes of light tropical fruit makes it hard to tell where the yeast character ends and the hop begins; no perception of bitterness from the hops, just enough to flavor and balance the beer; I am reminded of Brett Beer of the Lips of Faith series from New Belgium in the brett-like fruity character

Mouthfeel: very soft on the palate, surprising for such a highly carbonated beer- no sharpness from the carbonation; light and refreshing, but still satisfyingly luscious with all those wheat and rye proteins and tannins

Overall: definitely a favorite of mine; the beer itself might not be entirely style appropriate at only 79% apparent attenuation and having such a strong wheat character,  but saisons tend to be awfully broad in definition; I can’t think of much I would change about this beer, other than perhaps a slightly higher ferment temperature or adding some additional mosaic hops at KO to squeeze out a bit more tropical fruit; great to drink cold on a hot summer day, but it also opens up a bit as it warms

– Dennis
Life, Fermented

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About Dennis
Home brewer, home chef, garage tinkerer. Author of Life Fermented blog.

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