Brewing Mountain Saison #2

With the National Homebrew Competition (NHC) right around the corner, I applied for two beer entries with hopes of both being accepted on February 14!

With the National Homebrew Competition (NHC) right around the corner, I applied for two beer entries with hopes of both being accepted on February 14! This year will be my first entry(s) since winning third place in the 2015 NHC First Round with a Kona Coffee Russian Imperial Stout (former Category 23: Specialty Beer). In anticipation of being accepted, I brewed the first of two recipes last weekend – a classic saison.

Drawing inspiration from Farm Bière and Ed Coffey’s Farmer In The Rye Saison (which itself was a 2013 NHC First Round Winner), I created Mountain Saison #2. I once again used only Mecca Grade Estate Malts for this recipe – specifically Pelton (Pilsner-style), Rimrock (Vienna-style Rye) and Metolius (Munich-style). I also added a touch of table sugar for added dryness. I hopped with Yakima Valley Hops Columbus at 60-minutes, East Kent Goldings at 30-minutes and Czech Saaz & more East Kent Goldings in the whirlpool for added flavor. Since The Yeast Bay sold out of Wallonian Farmhouse Yeast and my LHBS was out of stock on White Labs WLP565 Belgian Saison I Yeast, I used SafAle T-58 Ale Dry Yeast for Mountain Saison #2 (since it fared so well in Mountain Saison #1). Regarding water, I used distilled water and added mineral to build it back up to my favorite saison water profile from Farmhouse Ales (52 ppm Ca / 17 ppm Mg / 35 ppm Na / 20 ppm Cl / 107 ppm SO4 / 165 ppm HCO3). I also incorporated a four-step mash (which is very easy with the PicoBrew Z1) of 130°F – 140°F – 150°F – 168°F – rough guidelines from Amos Browne’s Basic Spelt Saison recipe.

But hands-down the most exciting part of Mountain Saison #2 was breaking in my new Tilt Hydrometer! Tilt is a free-floating digital hydrometer and thermometer for continuous real-time monitoring of beer during fermentation. After a quick look-over, calibration and sanitizing, I dropped the Tilt into Mountain Saison #2 right after yeast pitch. Within 15 minutes I had my first gravity and temperature data points recorded to the cloud. Maybe the only thing cooler than the Tilt is the direct integration of its data into Brewfather brewing software (which I recently converted to from BeerSmith). A huge thanks to my brothers who purchased the Tilt as a Christmas present!

You can find the full Mountain Saison #2 recipe here or check out the highlights below.

Mountain Saison #2

  • Batch size: 2.5 gallons
  • OG: 1.052
  • FG: 1.007 (est.)
  • Efficiency: 70.3%
  • ABV: 5.9%
  • IBU: 36
  • SRM: 4.9


  • 78.7% Mecca Grade Pelton Malt @ Mash
  • 15.7% Mecca Grade Rimrock Malt @ Mash
  • 3.6% Mecca Grade Metolius Malt @ Mash
  • 4.8% Sucrose @ Boil
  • 19.4 IBUs Yakima Valley Hops Columbus Pellet Hops @ 60
  • 6.8 IBUs Yakima Valley Hops East Kent Goldings Pellet Hops @ 30
  • 0.14 oz/gal Yakima Valley Hops East Kent Goldings Pellet Hops @ Whirlpool
  • 0.14 oz/gal Yakima Valley Hops Saaz Pellet Hops @ Whirlpool
  • 4.3 g SafAle T-58 Ale Dry Yeast
  • Saison water profile

Water treatment: 1.2 g Baking Soda, 0.3 g Calcium Chloride, 0.2 g Canning Salt, 2.1 g Epsom Salt, 0.8 g Gypsum, 0.7 g Slaked Lime and 4.6 ml Lactic Acid in DI water (for 3.23 gal of total water volume)
Mash technique: Single infusion @ 149°F for 90 min
Kettle volume: 2.75 gal
Boil duration: 60 min
Whirlpool technique: 15 min @ 185°F
Final volume: 2.5 gal (est)
Fermentation temp: 68°F for 24 hours the raised to 70°F for remainder of fermentation
Notes: Brewed solo on 01/25/2020. DI water treated with salts to achieve saison water profile (52 ppm Calcium, 17 ppm Magnesium, 35 ppm Sodium, 107 ppm Sulfate, 20 ppm Chloride, 165 ppm Bicarbonate). No pH readings.

01/25/2020 – Pitched yeast at 68°F

01/26/2020 – Raised fermentation temperature to 70°F.

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