Saison de Noel

Last Christmas, I gave my rather large family a four pack of homebrewed beers that I made.  In the overall scheme of things, it went over pretty well.  I ended up putting off a majority of the bottling until the night before Christmas and I still remember the numb burning feeling from bottling over 100 beers outside in the freezing cold with my hands dripping wet with sanitizer.

With a desire to simplify things this year, I chose to focus on making one really awesome beer and package it in a fancy enough way that made it special.  My plan was to make a single substantial Belgian style beer and bottle it in a 750 mL corked bottle that can take the high carbonation typical to big Belgian styles.  This year’s “Saison de Noel” was brewed mostly because of the Wyeast private collection 3726 Farmhouse Ale that was available at the time and because Northern Brewer was offering a limited edition Saison de Noel recipe kit that intrigued me.

When the holiday season comes around, so do the spiced holiday beers that I particularly dislike.  I don’t know what it is, but spiced beers, mostly the baking spice genre (i.e. pumpkin ales) really don’t do it for me.  Even when used in a subtle manner, the spices still seem to overwhelm the malt and/or hop profile of a beer.  I wanted to stay away from that with my holiday brew.

Using the Northern Brewer kit as a reference and wanting to keep it as simple and clean as possible, the emphasis in this beer is  allowing the yeast profile of the Farmhouse strain shine.  The high carbonation achieved by priming with 7 oz. of dextrose cuts through the malty sweet body.  This beer ended up drying out quite a bit (1.005) pushing the alcohol to 8.8%, meaning this will get a few months in the cellar before it’ll peak.

P.S. Probably the funnest part of brewing a beer to give out as a gift is designing the label.  Betelgeuse made the cut again this year.

Recipe follows:

Saison de Noel
Author: Kyler
Date: 11/4/11
Size: 5.62 gal
Efficiency: 85.0%
Attenuation: 93.0%
Calories: 233.54 kcal per 12.0 fl oz
Original Gravity: 1.072 (1.000 – 1.100)
Terminal Gravity: 1.005 (1.000 – 1.100)
Color: 20.15 (0.0 – 50.0)
Alcohol: 8.8% (0.0% – 10.0%)
Bitterness: 52.7 (0.0 – 50.0)
10.0 lb Pilsen 2RS Malt
8.0 oz Belgian Aromatic
6.0 oz Carafa Special® TYPE II
4.0 oz Caramunich® TYPE III
4.0 oz CaraMalt
1.5 lb Light Brown Sugar
2 oz NZ Hallertau Aroma (7.9%) – added during boil, boiled 60 m
00:04:14 Dough In – Liquor: 4.25 gal; Strike: 160.27 °F; Target: 150.0 °F
01:19:14 Sacch Rest – Rest: 75.0 m; Final: 150.0 °F
01:39:14 Sparge – Saprge 1: 2.25 gal sparge @ 189 °F, 10 m; Sparge #2: 2.25 gal sparge @ 189 °F, 10 m; Total Runoff: 7.6 gal
3726 Farmhouse Blend from Wyeast, 2nd gen slurry from Ben Stutz
3g chalk, 2 Bk Soda (in mash)
2g gypsum 2g CaCl (in boil)
Mash pH= 5.46 @ mash temp 150F
pH= 6 @ room temp

5 thoughts on “Saison de Noel

  1. ryesandshine says:

    We can’t wait to try ours! Counting down the months…

  2. I like your thoughts on this approach for a winter beer vs. the spiced beers, which have worn on me as well. I’d like to know your thoughts on how this recipe turned out. I’m currently planning a similar style batch to brew in the warm summer months to be nicely ready by December.

    • kylers says:

      I wasn’t impressed with the first few bottles that I tried so I’m going to hold on to the few that I have left and just hope it needs maturation. I’m really into the high carbonation level that I achieved with the bottle conditioning and Belgian bottles, but the actual beer seemed a bit angular and needs time to mellow I think. I’ll keep you posted.

      • What was unimpressive? Just didn’t seen quite right? Did you not coax out some of the yeast character you expected? Or were there some off flavors? or some hot alcohols that need mellowing?

        Thanks for keeping me updated. I’ll likely be formulating something for a July or August brew session.

      • kylers says:

        I think it will eventually be a good beer, but right now it just needs time to mellow (as any high gravity beer does) so things just seem sort of out of balance. I’ll try one within a month or so and see how it’s doing and post an update.

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