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Farmhouse Saison


Often my inspiration for a recipe comes from odd places; this recipe started at GABF last year. The good folks at WYeast gave me a certificate for a free smack pack, and while grateful, I completely forgot about it. Around a month ago i was going through a stack of papers, and found the certificate, which was expiring at the end of the year. My regular LHBS only carries White Labs, but we do have another LHBS in town that stocks WYeast. Now White Labs and WYeast have mostly the same strains, but there are a few that are exclusive. One which White Labs simply doesn’t have an equal for is 3711.


3711 is really interesting strain, as it attenuates like few do. I pretty much slapped a recipe together for a farmhouse ale on a whim, so that I could try this yeast. The one hop that jumped out at me for this beer was Belma. Belma is a new strain from Hops Direct that I previously used on a recent Stout. It’s fruity, a little citrusy, and sort of funky, which sounded perfect for a saison. Not one to shy away from hops, I decided to toss a little Citra at this beer as well.


Saison was the loose style I was shooting for, although I’m not strictly keeping to it. I’m using 2-row as a base malt out of laziness, and throwing in some Munich and Wheat for complexity. The gravity for this beer is also targeted much lower than a typical saison. Partially because 3711 attenuates so well, and partially because I wanted a lighter beer. Citra is also out of place in the traditional sense, but it should play very nicely with the yeast-derived esters.


I did get a new toy this week! With more 10 gallon batches, I’ve needed a larger vessel for making starters. I finally broke down an bought a (massive) 5,000ml flask. Pictures don’t quite do justice to how large this thing is, but I put a SNPA bottle next to it for reference. Anyway, on Wednesday, I whipped up a 1.5L starter. My little 1″ stir bar isn’t ideal for this sized flask, but it did a fine job of keeping everything spinning.
DSC_6890.jpgBrewed: 12-21-12
Secondary: 01-03-13
Kegged: 01-14-13
OG: 1.050
ABV: 5.8%
IBU: 21
6 Gallons

6.25lbs 2-Row
1.5lbs Munich
1.5lbs Wheat
6oz Acid Malt
Mash @ 153*
11g Apollo @ 60
1oz Belma @ 10
0.5oz ea Belma/Citra @ 0
WYeast 3711 – French Saison Yeast

I had Friday off work, so I squeezed this batch in before all the family came into town for Christmas. FYI, I use Acid malt in every pale beer I brew, typically 2% of the grist. I wanted a little more twang in this beer, so I doubled the amount I would typically use to 4%. If you don’t normally use Acid malt to adjust mash pH, use 3oz. If you do, double your typical addition. Very relaxing brew day. I woke up early, made some delicious coffee and got going. (Quick side note about coffee: We ordered a couple pounds from this guy, and it’s absolutely amazing.) The mornings are definitely cooling off, as 33* felt pretty chilly for me. After throwing on a hoodie, I got to work. I mashed for 60min, sparged quick, and a boiled for 60min as well. I’m still getting used to my new boil off rates, as I came in a little high on the gravity (was shooting for 1.046). I pitched a 1.5L starter of 3711 into 61* wort, and let it free rise to 68* where I held it for the first two days. By day three, I let it rise to 71*, and I held it there until fermentation was complete.


After about 12 days, I racked this beer to secondary to dry hop it. It sat on the hops for a week before it was kegged.
DSC_7219.jpgLet me start off by saying that I’m not typically a fan of Belgian/Phenolic-driven styles. This beer looks great in the glass. Slight haze with a not-quite-orange color. Big rocky head that lasts for days. The aroma is pretty phenolic, with some dry hops hanging around too. Big tart strawberry aroma. Flavor is lots of phenols as well, with some fruitiness behind that. The finish is tart, which is a result of the acidulated malt. In terms of a Saison, this is probably a great beer, but it’s not a style that I particularly care for. For what it’s worth, my sister and my fiance love the beer. I do want to point out, that this beer definitely isn’t overly phenolic; I just don’t like phenol-driven beers.


There’s two things I’ll take away from this batch. A. I got a very good feel for what Belma brings to a beer, and I like it. It’s pretty fruity, kind of funky, and it plays well with other American hops. Neither the Belma or Citra tasted out of place in this beer. B. I need to stop forcing myself to try to enjoy phenolic styles; it’s just not going to happen =/

17 thoughts on “Farmhouse Saison”
  1. Brett 01.21.2013 on 10:11 PM Reply

    Which phenol are we talking about here? I can handle tiny bit of clove, but I'm not a peppery spice kinda phenol guy. WLP400 is the right amount of spice for me, but like you I am not a fan of the overly clove/spicey (think hoegarden or SN kellerweis).

  2. Scott 01.21.2013 on 10:15 PM Reply

    Mostly pepper, a little clove. Clove isn't the dominant flavor like a weizen. It's just that typical 'Belgian' character. I was hoping to 'force' myself to like it, but eh…

  3. Douglas 01.22.2013 on 2:53 AM Reply

    3711 is easily my most hated yeast. It is insanely easy to use and very prolific in professional and homebrewing. It doesn't make a decent yet alone a world class Saison.

  4. Scott 01.22.2013 on 4:40 AM Reply

    I have zero experience with Belgian yeasts. What things don't you like about 3711, and what yeasts do you like better?

  5. bagendbrewery 01.23.2013 on 2:28 PM Reply

    I'm with you, Scott. No matter what I just can't like the peppery/clovey/banana/phenolic flavors of many of the Belgian yeasts/styles. I basically just pretend those styles don't exist. I've tried to like them, but it just isn't happening.

  6. Scott 01.23.2013 on 4:10 PM Reply

    Ya, it's funny. It's not a bad beer, and the phenols aren't in any way overwhelming. I just don't find myself wanting to go pull a pint of that beer. A number of friends (as well as my sister and finace) love it, so it'll get drank.

    At least I tried before I wrote off these styles completely. =)

  7. Adam H 01.23.2013 on 10:52 PM Reply

    "I'm with you, Scott. No matter what I just can't like the peppery/clovey/banana/phenolic flavors of many of the Belgian yeasts/styles. I basically just pretend those styles don't exist. I've tried to like them, but it just isn't happening."

    I am right in there with ya. The only problem is the best beer I ever made was with Trappest High Gravity (NBs Patersbier) and it did not have any of that belgian character. Its been about 4 years since I made that beer and I cant exactly remember how to describe it. I have remade it 4 times with too much belgiany flavors and once with US-05 which ended up tasting like watery (way to clean). I have the ingredients to try it again gonna ferment down at 60 this time.

  8. Scott 01.24.2013 on 12:35 AM Reply

    Ya, Belgian strains are tricky. It definitely brings out much more of the art of brewing, and less of the science.

  9. Douglas 01.31.2013 on 3:34 AM Reply

    3711 makes a very one dimensional beer in terms of a saison. 3711 is a very "flat" profile. If you make a Saison with this yeast consider adding some acid to balance it out (post ferm). I like the Dupont strain the best. Finicky but worth the results.

  10. A 02.08.2013 on 4:12 AM Reply

    If you want to revisit your saison, try a strain that is more subdued. Wyeast 3522 Ardennes can make a nice saison. Surly Cynic uses it with some success. It's got a pepper undercurrent but is much more subdued and less spicy and has that lovely "funk" of a belgian beer. I think the Chimay strain, whatever wyeast calls it, could make a very nice saison if you incorporate a low mash with some simple sugar to get the attenuation down.

    Wyeast 1388 is another unique strain. It, out of the box, is the Duvel strain, but at low temps (like in the mid 60s) will produce a clean, malty, slightly phenolic beer with a subtle frutiness. If you up the temp to the high 60s, you get less phenlic and more fruitiness.

    One strain that is phenomial for belgians is ECY 09. It is profoundley clovey and magnificent. Might be amazing for a dubbel or even atypical tripel. Rich, spicy, incredible strain.

  11. Nate 06.12.2013 on 5:51 PM Reply

    Howdy. Cool recipe. I know this beer is long gone by now but I have a question for you – do you think the additional acid malt gave you the twang or bit of sourness you were looking for? I ask because I'm planning to do a saison-like beer with yeast cultured from Ommegang Hennepin and I'd like for it to have a touch of twang. I've never used acid malt but your post got me thinking I might try 3 or 4 oz to achieve that. Any thoughts are appreciated. Great work on the blog.

  12. Scott 07.04.2013 on 9:06 PM Reply

    I think it would have. It's not a very 'complex' twang, but it does add a nice little bit of sour. I'd say give it a try.

  13. Scott Brundage 09.08.2013 on 7:57 PM Reply

    Can you tell me what water profile you used for this beer?

  14. Scott 09.10.2013 on 2:47 PM Reply

    R/O water with a little gypsum and calcium chloride added. I typically use 2% acid malt in my beers to adjust for pH, so this beer used a bit more.

  15. John Matthews 09.28.2013 on 10:13 PM Reply

    To those of you knocking the 3711, I ferment saisons at 75-85 and they come out great. Also you can mix 3711 with the dupont strain at about 10-20% to fix the finicky attenuation.

  16. Born On Beat 03.22.2014 on 12:42 AM Reply

    3711 is very low in phenols, it's predominant characteristics are all driven by esters. Anywho, on paper this beer looks fantastic to me, I like the high % of acid malt and will definitely try that in my next saison. Thanks for taking the time to write down your adventures, I've spent an hour on your blog already comparing recipes! Cheers

  17. Scott 05.06.2014 on 12:45 AM Reply

    It was definitely a fun beer, and I'd highly recommend the small punch the acid malt gave. I actually might revisit this soon with a different yeast.

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