Unlike my brett saison brewed here, here and here in different formats, I wanted to go with a more simple saison recipe to round out the summer. Besides, I just bottled two gallons of sour mashed brett saison (the third link above) if I want something more funky to drink.
I decided to go with a solid saison strain and no yeast depicts saison more than the Dupont strain. Although many people despise the Dupont strain for it's laziness at low temperatures (often depicted as slow to finish), it's one of the best strains for that rustic, saison flavor. Lost Abbey uses the Dupont strain for flavor but pitches it with 3711 for attenuation. With it being in the 90s-100s in Texas for the next few weeks, I'm not too afraid of finding a home for this beer that will ensure full attenuation. I bottle harvested this yeast, which worked surprisingly well since the bottle had a 2011 cork and had sat in my fridge for about five months before opening it last week. Many people also seem to have problems getting the bottle harvesting to kick off but I had visible activity after a couple days. (I also have a bottle of Jester King Le Petit Prince I plan on bottle harvesting from because I really like the yeast they use and I think it is superior to Dupont in flavor and aroma but it's good to have options and I'm sure Dupont will work great here.)
To give the beer a slight twist I wanted to use spelt instead of wheat malt or unmalted wheat in the grist. Spelt is getting a lot of attention, especially in saisons, Spelt actually is a wheat species but it has a different flavor from common wheat. It's being grown more thanks to attention from the organic and health food industries. Spelt has a nutty, slightly sweeter flavor than common wheat (the usual red and white varieties) that adds a different set of flavors than regular wheat but will still add the haze and head retaining proteins one wants in an unmalted grain, although you can find malted spelt. If you are on the lookout for spelt, you may be able to find it at local organic/health food stores but it may be expensive. Check local prices at food stores against prices at homebrew shops. It's expensive either way but I've heard of people seeing spelt for $4/lb at food stores but malted spelt for a little over $2/lb at homebrew shops. I'm not really sure how different the two are, especially as a specialty grain added for flavor.
Additionally, I decided to add some oats to the recipe. I usually am not a fan of adding things at the last minute or adding without purpose but I decided the oats would help add that saison haze and some body and add some depth along with the spelt. This is the same reason I decided to leave out any table sugar additions to dry out the beer. So the oats used here are grocery store, quick oats. Since they are pre-gelatinized they don't need a cereal mash. Just direct addition to the mash.
One other note before I outline the recipe, I decided to go ahead and try first wort hopping in place of my bittering addition. I've wanted to try FWH for a while but finally decided today was the day to pull the trigger. Let me say, I am a convert. The aroma from the FWH'd wort was incredible. The aroma was powerful but delicate rather than bitter. So we'll see how that turns out. I know there is conflicting opinions on how much bitterness it will contribute but I'll find out for myself.
Ok, enough blabbing, here's the recipe. Note: This recipe is one gallon, should you want to copy the recipe for a larger batch you need to multiply everything by the number of gallons you want to brew.
One gallon post-boil
1.2 gallons pre-boil
0.6 gallons mash water at 166F strike
1.0 gallons sparge water at 180F
90 minute boil
1lb. Belgian Pilsner Malt 52.08%
0.25lb. Vienna Malt 13.02%
0.25lb. Unmalted Spelt 13.02%
0.19lb. Munich Malt 9.9% (0.19lb. = 3oz)
0.13lb. Aromatic Malt 6.77% (0.13lb.= 2oz)
0.10lb. Quick Cook Oats 5.21% (0.10lb. = 1.5oz)
0.25oz EKG 5% AA at FWH
0.25oz EKG 5% AA at 5 minutes
Pitched slurry from 400ml starter at 85F, activity within four hours.
Est. FG: 1.011
Est Color: 7.4
Est. ABV 5.42%
This recipe would be fine to play with some spices although the yeast character should be bold enough to bypass the need for spices. This recipe could also easily be retooled as a non-spelt recipe by replacing the spelt with unmalted wheat, malted wheat, unmalted rye, malted rye, emmer, buckwheat, or other grains of your choosing.