July 8, 2015

Fake Fox Rye Saison

When I was last in Oregon the time share in which my wife and I stayed had a golf course with a pond. The pond attracted geese so the property managers had put out a fake fox to scare them off. Most of the geese were unperturbed by the fake fox but a few would try to fight it. I didn't realize, driving by, that it was fake. The time share is out in the middle of nowhere so it's possible there was a fox or coyote or something trying to eat the geese. We don't have geese in Texas so there are no fake foxes. We decided to take a walk down to the pond to see if we could spot the fox and make a new friend. As we approached we discovered the fox was a fake fox. I'm pretty sure a couple geese laughed at me.

I brewed this saison after a long weekend of yard work. There is a lot of romanticization of saison about how these seasonal workers were treated to these wondrous artisan ales all day long. The truth is really that these poorly paid, poorly treated seasonal workers scraped by and drank this beer because it was all there was to drink. Their lives were no more romantic than our own seasonal workers who are unpaid and work long hours picking crops only to drink cheap beer at the end of the day and largely remain invisible in our society. This romantic view of saison is craft beer's fake fox. So I named this beer Fake Fox half out of a nod to the story from Oregon and half as a poke at the romanticization of saison.

This saison is a light, low ABV saison with a big rye charge and a hop profile that balances fruity Aurora against the apricot and spice character of Rakau. I'm not completely sold on this hop combination but I am trying to clear out some small amounts of hops taking up space in my freezer.

Fake Fox Rye Saison

Batch size: 1 gallon
Est. ABV: 3.6%
Est. SRM: 4.1
IBU: 26
Est. OG: 1.037
Est. FG: 1.009

Grain Bill

15 oz. Pils malt (2 SRM) 62%
8 oz. Rye malt (4.7 SRM) 33.3%
1 oz. Munich malt (9 SRM) 4.7%

Mash Schedule

Single decoction mash
Infusion 3.6 qt. at 157.8F for 144F rest for 40 minutes
Decoct 0.75 qt. and bring to boil for 158F rest for 30 minutes
Sparge 0.9 gal at 180F

Water Profile

Magnesium: 10
Sodium: 5
Sulfate: 105
Chloride: 46
Bicarbonate: 1
Ph: 5.3

Mash Additions

Gypsum: 0.4g
Epsom salt: 0.4g
Calcium chloride: 0.3g

Sparge Additions

Gypsum 0.4g
Epsom salt 0.4g
Calcium chloride 0.3g

Boil Schedule

90 minute boil

0.07 oz. Belma [12.1%] at 90 minutes for 19.2 IBU
0.10 oz. Aurora [8.25%] at 5 minutes for 3.5 IBU
0.10 oz. Rakau [12.1%] at 5 minutes for 5.1 IBU
0.10 oz. Aurora [8.25%] whirlpool for 0 IBU
0.10 oz. Rakau [12.1%] whirlpool for 0 IBU

Fermentation Schedule

Pitch 13ml of 3711 at 70F and raise to 85F and hold until fermentation is complete.
Cold crash and bottle to 3.0 volumes.

Brewday & Fermentation Notes

Brewed 5/3/15

First runnings: 1.045
Pre-boil volume: 1.7 gal
Pre-boil gravity: 1.030
Mash efficiency: 98.6%

Post-boil volume: 1.1gal
Post-boil gravity: 1.038
Efficiency: 80.8%

Gravity reading 5/5/15: 1.006


  1. How did the hop combo of rakau and aurora turn out? I've used Rakau with other "piney" hops like Simcoe and Chinook in a Black IPA that turned out well. I'm guessing the hop character was much more driven by Rakau than Aurora given their potency. I'm interested in how Rakau plays with spicy saison yeast phenolics

    I'm surprised you used Belma as the bittering hop. Its easily been one of my favorite new hops. I combine it with Huell Melon in my new IPA recipe I've been tinkering with for an amazingly unique strawberry melon peach character.

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