Evolution #4: Saison du Rye Recipe and Tasting

Evolution is a light illuminating all facts, a curve that all lines must follow.

We are excited to introduce the fourth rendition of our investigation into the natural evolution of our foraged Massachusetts yeast – Saison du Rye!

Saison du Rye (aka Evolution #4) is our first batch of beer brewed in Idaho and our second batch of beer brewed with our one gallon pilot system (future blog post forthcoming). After the success of Saison du Spelt, we expanded the concept of brewing with adjuncts to our Evolution Series. Rye was the next obvious choice not only because of its robust, recognizable flavor contributions but also due to the noticeable absence of phenols from our foraged Massachusetts yeast.

To keep things simple (and consistent) the Saison du Rye recipe was nearly identical to the spelt version with a few exceptions, save for swapping rye malt for the unmalted spelt and eliminating the 0 minute hop addition.

Saison du Rye was brewed on June 2, 2017 using pilsner and rye malt, homegrown Cascade and Centennial whole cone hops, fifth generation Massachusetts foraged yeast, and Boise city water. A single infusion mash was performed for 60 minutes at 148°F with a mash out temperature of 168°F. The standard 60 minute boil featured hop additions of 26 IBUs at 60 minutes and 10 IBUs at 15 minutes. The beer was chilled to 70°F and transferred to a one gallon glass carboy before adding ~25 ml of yeast slurry from Evolution #3. Sanitized aluminum foil was placed atop the carboy instead of an airlock to mimic open fermentation – a technique that Drew Beechum called to my attention years ago with saison yeast. After 53 days, Saison du Rye was packaged into 500ml green bottles and naturally carbonated using dextrose to target 3.0 volumes. Bottles were conditioned horizontally until opening the first bottle on September 18, 2017. Tasting notes can be found below:

The beautiful, dusty pellicle of Evolution #4 (Saison du Rye)

Appearance – Saison du Rye pours a hazy straw hue with subtle golden highlights. The head is vigorous and fluffy and white. It is certainly a pretty beer and carbonation seems appropriate at first glance.

Smell – As the beer first hits the glass, a mild sulfur aroma appears but then quickly fades. Next up are familiar yeast notes of freshly cracked black peppercorn and overripe banana. As the aroma continues to reveal itself, there are also aromas of green apple candy, musty horse blanket, and the ever so faint presence of pear (ethyl acetate?).

Taste – While the aroma is pleasantly complex, the flavor is not. The dominant flavor is reminiscent of Minute Maid Lemonade, though not as sweet. The rye malt comes through in a bready fashion, without significant notes of spice. In the finish, a hint of acetic acid reveals itself, which I was fearing, given the big pellicle from extended open fermentation and perceived ethyl acetate in the nose.

Mouthfeel – This beer is thick and viscous from the hefty (33%) rye malt addition. Despite it’s viscosity, Saison du Rye is quick on the palate with a fleeting flavor. There is a subtle sweet finish which only reinforces the lemonade analogy.

Overall – Meh. The pleasant tartness found in Evolution #3 has manifested into a somewhat unpleasant acetic character in this version. The rye malt is interesting but I don’t think I’d use the same percentage in the future – perhaps limiting to 15% or even mixing in some other adjuncts.

Changes for Next Time – I did not notice any major sensory differences with the open fermentation approach with this batch so I will likely omit it in the future. If I do explore open fermentation again, I would be more diligent in capping the fermentor with an airlock after primary fermentation is complete instead of leaving it “open” for 1+ months. This could have easily been the acetic acid source, as the beer had a wicked pellicle after only handful of weeks in the fermentor.

Evolution #4 (Saison du Rye)

Batch size: 1 gallon
OG: 1.053
FG:  1.006 (est)
Efficiency: 92.3%
ABV: 5.6%
IBU: 36
SRM: 4


67% Domestic pilsner @ Mash
33% Rye malt @ Mash

26 IBU Homegrown Cascade/Centennial hop flowers @ 60
10 IBU Homegrown Cascade/Centennial hop flowers @ 15

Fifth generation Massachusetts yeast

Water treatment: Boise, ID city water
Mash technique: Single Infusion @ 148°F for 60 minutes
Kettle volume: 1.71 gallons
Boil duration: 60 minutes
Final volume: 1 gallon
Fermentation temp: 68°F
Notes: Brewed solo on 6/2/2017. No water treatment. Mashed with 1.25 qt/gal water. No mash pH readings. Measured preboil SG was 1.036 at 1.71 gal. Brewday was quick! Transferred into one-gal carboy and covered with sanitized foil for open fermentation. Fermented at ambient temps in the basement (~70°F).

7/4/2017 – Mega pellicle visible. Probably should have swapped the foil with an airlock after primary was complete.

7/25/2017 – Bottled 0.83 gallons of beer into 500 ml Morning bottles using dextrose. Target 3.0 volumes and conditioned horizontally.

9/18/2017 – Enjoyed the first bottle in my Hill Farmstead Charente Stemmed Beer Glass.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.