Dark Winter Saison Recipe IV

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Michael Tonsmiere, the Mad Fermentationist, and his friend, Alex Howe, set out to create a series of beers to celebrate dried fruit and cold weather.

The Dark Winter Saison IV, found in May/June 2014 Zymurgy with some of its flavors inspired by Russian River’s Consecration, a dark ale aged in cabernet sauvignon barrels for 4 to 8 months with black currants and souring microbes. The Dark Winter Saison IV is similar, aged in currants and a wine-soaked oak stave that helps it become rich and vinous.

The beers smells of dank Brett funk, with raisin aromatics from the currants and some red wine as well. As it warms, you might notice vanilla from the oak. It’s a dry beer, but not too much so. It should taste lightly tart, with minimal bitterness and a slight warming alcohol feel. Rich flavors and complexity in a drinkable package, this is the right saison for a winter evening.

Dark Winter Saison Recipe IV | Saison


  • For 5 Gallons (19 L)
    • 12.0 lb (5.44 kg) Vienna malt
    • 4.0 oz (113 g) Special B malt
    • 4.0 oz (113 g) American chocolate malt
    • 4.0 oz (113 g) Carafa Special II malt
    • 4.0 oz (113 g) roasted barley (cold extraction - reference directions)
    • 0.5 oz (14 g) Warrior pellets, 11% a.a. (75 min)
    • 25 oz (907 g) dried Zante currants
    • White Labs WLP670 American Farmhouse Blend


    • Original Gravity: 1.067
    • Final Gravity: 1.005
    • ABV: 8.2%
    • IBU: 22
    • SRM: 29


    To brew this saison homebrew recipe, steep the milled roasted barley in 1 quart (0.95 L) cold water overnight. Filter through a sieve lined with a coffee filter. Mash at 159°F (71°C) for 60 minutes. Add the roasted barley extract to the wort at the start of the boil. Perform a 90 minute boil.

    Chill to 68°F (20°C), transfer to a fermenter and pitch White Labs 670 yeast. If this blend is not available, pitch a Belgian saison strain (White Labs 565 or Wyeast 3724) along with Brettanomyces bruxellensis (Wyeast 5112 or White Labs 650). Hold fermentation close to 75°F (24°C).

    After the initial wave of fermentation is complete, transfer to secondary with 1 oz (28 g) red wine soaked oak cubes and 25 oz (907 g) dried Zante currants. Store beer between 60-80°F (16-27°C) until the gravity is stable from one month to the next (a minimum of six months). Bottle or keg and carbonate to 2.4 volumes of CO2.

    Extract Option

    To brew this saison homebrew recipe, omit Vienna malt and substitute with 8.75 lb (3.97 kg) pale malt extract. Steep Special B, chocolate and Carafa malts in 160°F (71°C) water for 30 minutes. Drain, rinse, dissolve extract completely and proceed with the recipe, making sure to include the cold-steeped roast barley.