Monday, September 20, 2010

Chai Saison

This beer was brewed at the semi-regular group brew with my friends during a seasonal brew day in Joppa MD.  The beer was basically a classic Saison recipe from Farmhouse Ales (a fantastic book if you have not yet read it), however we wanted to add some chai flavor.  I was originally inspired to use the chai after having Chai Iced Tea from a local eatery, Pai Wai.

The saison is one of the most amazing beer styles I have ever researched, since it was initially brewed to sustain farmers.  The "style" originated in the farming area between France and Belgium, and was typically a hodgepodge of malted grains the farmer had on hand, hops, and yeast that was then fermented at higher temperatures.  There is some guesswork in defining the style, since the beer would differ farm to farm, year to year.  This beer was such a staple to the farming class, it was sometimes even used as pay for the farm laborers - workers were permitted up to 5 liters per workday. Since this was a beer brewed based on what was on hand, the grist could contain various proportions of spelt, wheat, oats, barley and even other malted products.  There is a distinct "spicy" flavor that is characteristic of the beer, but traditionally no spices were known to be added to the beer.  Today, some of the more well known saison producers manage to create a bouquet of spice and flavor through only yeast and hop derived phenols.  Many homebrewers will read the style guidelines, and think spicing a saison is required - it is not.

I was looking for a low to moderate spice accent to the overall pallet of this beer.

This was brewed as a 10G batch, and split with my friend Al.  We added 2 cartons of chai mulling spice to the boil at 60 min.  Each of us took our share of the beer and pitched our own yeasts.  I decided to go with the now year round Wyeast WY3711 saison strain, where Al went with the Belgian Saison strain.  Since some of the yeast derived phenols are created at the higher end of the fermentation tempeture spectrum, I used a aquarium heater in a tub of water as my temp control.  I set the temp to 85* and let it ride.

This beer seems to have been a real friend pleaser.  To date it has yielded many compliments, a few bottles of Russian River sour beers, and even a silver medal in the First Coast Cup.  I am rather pleased with the way this beer came out.  I would like to better carbonate in the future.  While some of the jusging sheets state the beer did not have enough spice flavor (I entered in teh spiced beer catagory), I think it did hit the mark I was aiming for.

BeerSmith Recipe Printout -
Recipe: 10G Golden Saison
Brewer: Ryan Lockard
Asst Brewer:
Style: Saison
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (35.0)

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 11.00 gal     
Boil Size: 12.59 gal
Estimated OG: 1.060 SG
Estimated Color: 6.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 25.1 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amount        Item                                      Type         % or IBU     
18.00 lb      Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM)             Grain        75.00 %      
4.00 lb       Wheat Malt, Pale (Weyermann) (2.0 SRM)    Grain        16.67 %      
1.00 lb       Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM)     Grain        4.17 %       
2.50 oz       Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %]  (60 min)    Hops         19.1 IBU     
1.00 oz       Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %]  (20 min)    Hops         4.6 IBU      
2.00 oz       Styrian Goldings [5.40 %]  (2 min)        Hops         1.4 IBU      
1.00 lb       Corn Sugar (Dextrose) (0.0 SRM)           Sugar        4.17 %       
1 Pkgs        French Saison (Wyeast #3711) [Starter 2000 ml Yeast-Ale                 

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Light Body
Total Grain Weight: 23.00 lb
Single Infusion, Light Body
Step Time     Name               Description                         Step Temp    
60 min        Mash In            Add 28.75 qt of water at 156.8 F    146.0 F      
10 min        Mash Out           Add 18.40 qt of water at 207.4 F    168.0 F      


  1. Sounds like a great recipe. I'm sorta miffed I missed the brew day. Save a bottle of that and I'll swap for the Belgian Strong I'm brewing now. ;)

  2. Hey there! Thanks for the great recipe! I've been wanting to do a saison chai spiced beer for some time. I'm looking to really get that flavor in the beer. I want to enter this in a local homebrewer competition. Any suggestion on getting more flavor (for a 5 gallon batch)? Do you think 2 boxes of the mulling spices would be overkill for a 5 gallon batch?

  3. Just wanted to send along a quick update: I entered my version of this recipe (with just a few slight modifications) into our local Maine Homebrewer's Competition. Second place win! :) Great beer!

  4. I'm not sure why I never thought of or encountered a tub of water as a temperature control before, but that is brilliant. Do you just place the fermenter in the water and let it go for a few weeks? I imagine this would work for keeping beer cool enough in the summer too. That is always my struggle, as I don't have sufficient air conditioning in my house to ferment beer at a proper temperature during the summer.