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General Category => Beer Recipes => Topic started by: yso191 on May 20, 2016, 09:31:07 PM

Title: Barrel Fermented Farmhouse Saison?
Post by: yso191 on May 20, 2016, 09:31:07 PM
I'm in an experimenting mood.  I recently read that most (all?) real Saisons back in the day in Belgium were fermented in barrels.  I have a barrel!  It is a Rye Whiskey barrel that was used once for a Stout and then put to sleep.

So I'm thinking about formulating a recipe that would be low alcohol like the originals.  I'm thinking around 4.5-5%.  But I would like a lot of flavor.  And maybe add a fruit puree (I think they did that back then).

I understand that Pilsner malt is the standard, but I have a new 55# bag of Golden Promise (Fawcett).  Would that be a poor choice?

Also I'm thinking of using Wyeast 3711, and just letting it ferment in the barrel on the floor of my garage.  These days the temperature will stay in the 70's (f) and reach into the 80's.  Should I wait for warmer temps?  Non-temperature controlled fermentation is part of what I want to play with.

Thoughts?
Title: Re: Barrel Fermented Farmhouse Saison?
Post by: dls5492 on May 20, 2016, 11:47:06 PM
Sounds interesting. I heard that also. So, when I brew my saison, I also use the white labs 644 sac yeast, along with the wlp585 yeast, to give it that barrel twang. I also use pilsner malt as my base malt. So Golden promise is a nice substitute. (BTW, my saison is on its way to NHC finals.)
I believe you have a potentially awesome, winning beer.
Please keep us up to date. Thanks.
Title: Re: Barrel Fermented Farmhouse Saison?
Post by: yso191 on May 21, 2016, 05:10:30 AM
(BTW, my saison is on its way to NHC finals.)

Glad to hear it!  Let us know how it goes.
Title: Re: Barrel Fermented Farmhouse Saison?
Post by: dls5492 on May 21, 2016, 10:32:36 AM
(BTW, my saison is on its way to NHC finals.)

Glad to hear it!  Let us know how it goes.
will do.
Title: Re: Barrel Fermented Farmhouse Saison?
Post by: pete b on May 21, 2016, 12:24:43 PM
Steve, I have never done this but I'm happy to provide you some baseless speculation and a WAG or two😁
First I wonder about the pressure from fermentation. I assume you will need to leave  quite a bit of headspace in the barrel and an airlock or blow off tube. This in and of itself isn't the problem. The problem I wonder about is that will leave a lot of headspace when the Krausen drops and the barrel is permeable. I have cask conditioned in my little 1.5 gallon barrel and the carbonation lasted one day. So I'm wondering about losing your protective layer of co2 as fermentation winds down. This would especially be a problem if you intend to leave it there post fermentation. I suppose you could ferment extra in a different vessel and top off or add co2 every couple days.
The other thing is sanitation. Putting wort in a barrel is another story compared to finished beer. Is it full of sanitizer now? I might empty and add high proof whiskey and keep turning for a few days so every surface gets treated.
Also after your done all that saison yeast you put in there will have been forced into the wood during active fermentation. Not sure if it will ever leave.
I think it's a cool idea and all these problems are probably surmountable but those are my thoughts.
Title: Re: Barrel Fermented Farmhouse Saison?
Post by: yso191 on May 21, 2016, 09:00:07 PM
Thanks Pete - good thoughts.  Maybe the barrel fermentation idea is more romantic than practical.  Perhaps just aging it a bit in the barrel...  But I have an 8 gallon barrel, and a 6.5 gallon fermenter.  It appears I am on the horns of a dilemma.
Title: Re: Barrel Fermented Farmhouse Saison?
Post by: narvin on May 21, 2016, 10:06:51 PM
They definitely used old barrels.  Like the lambic breweries, they've been reused so many times you get no oak from them.  But if you like the flavor of whisley, that's all that matters.
Title: Re: Barrel Fermented Farmhouse Saison?
Post by: troybinso on May 21, 2016, 11:09:25 PM
I'm not sure I would want the whiskey flavor in my Saison.

As far as the 8 gallon barrel, just brew enough to fill two fermenters. Then you can keg off a couple of gallons and let the rest age in the barrel.
Title: Re: Barrel Fermented Farmhouse Saison?
Post by: yso191 on May 22, 2016, 12:17:55 AM
I'm not sure I would want the whiskey flavor in my Saison.

As far as the 8 gallon barrel, just brew enough to fill two fermenters. Then you can keg off a couple of gallons and let the rest age in the barrel.

I don't think there is much whiskey flavor left in the wood.  After the RIS I aged in it, I've been keeping water in it plus the recommended amount of potassium metabisulfite.

I'm wondering how it would work if I just filled it with wort & yeast and just used a blow-off tube so that head space would be next to nothing.  I've got a week or so to work the details out.
Title: Re: Barrel Fermented Farmhouse Saison?
Post by: pete b on May 22, 2016, 02:33:16 AM
I'm not sure I would want the whiskey flavor in my Saison.

As far as the 8 gallon barrel, just brew enough to fill two fermenters. Then you can keg off a couple of gallons and let the rest age in the barrel.

I don't think there is much whiskey flavor left in the wood.  After the RIS I aged in it, I've been keeping water in it plus the recommended amount of potassium metabisulfite.

I'm wondering how it would work if I just filled it with wort & yeast and just used a blow-off tube so that head space would be next to nothing.  I've got a week or so to work the details out.
I thought of that and forgot to mention it: the idea about filling and using a blow off. It's worth a try IMO. If it fails it will possibility be in a way that makes a good story too...
Title: Re: Barrel Fermented Farmhouse Saison?
Post by: troybinso on May 22, 2016, 04:01:01 AM
I'd also be worried about cleaning the barrel after a primary fermentation.
Title: Re: Barrel Fermented Farmhouse Saison?
Post by: yso191 on May 22, 2016, 02:58:04 PM
I'd also be worried about cleaning the barrel after a primary fermentation.

I wonder what the farmers in Belgium did?  That is really the question that encompasses all these questions.  Or maybe the answer that answers them... whatever.  Regardless, I am not worried about reusing the barrel.  My plan is to turn it into an end table in my future bar shed/man cave.
Title: Re: Barrel Fermented Farmhouse Saison?
Post by: troybinso on May 22, 2016, 03:06:52 PM
I'd also be worried about cleaning the barrel after a primary fermentation.

I wonder what the farmers in Belgium did?  That is really the question that encompasses all these questions.  Or maybe the answer that answers them... whatever.  Regardless, I am not worried about reusing the barrel.  My plan is to turn it into an end table in my future bar shed/man cave.

Oh, I didn't realize this was going to be the last time you use the barrel. Well I guess just go for it then.

Have you thought about the grain bill? Golden Promise will work great.  If you are going for authentic, you should probably find some unmalted local grain to throw in there. I live on the west end of the Palouse so it's pretty easy to find wheat, but rye, oats, spelt, triticale can all be found in my local health food store.
Title: Re: Barrel Fermented Farmhouse Saison?
Post by: yso191 on May 22, 2016, 11:22:14 PM
That's an interesting thought!  I'll bet it would add a lot of character to the beer.

BTW I just ordered the book Farmhouse Ales, by Phil Markowski.  Hopefully it will give some further insight.
Title: Re: Barrel Fermented Farmhouse Saison?
Post by: dls5492 on June 12, 2016, 05:25:48 PM
(BTW, my saison is on its way to NHC finals.)

Glad to hear it!  Let us know how it goes.

My saison did not win a medal. In fact, in category 19, the 3 medal winners were saison. I am looking forward to reviewing my score sheet. Congrats to the winners!
Title: Re: Barrel Fermented Farmhouse Saison?
Post by: majorvices on June 12, 2016, 07:14:16 PM
I've done this with a 53 gallon wine bbl. Turned it into a solera for a while.