Franklin's Brewery

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Saison '11

If you asked 100 different people their definition of Jazz or Barbecue you'd get 100 different opinions.

In the world of beer, Jazz is otherwise known as Saison.

I can never truly say enough about Saison as its not only the most interesting beer style but also one of my favorites. Its the one style of beer that's less about style and all about artist interpretation. While styles like Kolsch and Pilsner have little room for creativity and focus on execution of process, Saison is about executing the process of creativity. In a nutshell Saison can be whatever you want it to be...well within reason...though that could be argued as well.

At Franklin's I produced as Saison in the early fall of 2010 and now again in summer of 2011 with one concept in mind, to make the most complex beer possible out of the least amount of ingredients and process.

The players in this were 100% pilsner malt,Saaz hops,Belgian Saison yeast and of course the terrior of the brewing world, the local water supply. This combination of straight forward ingredients along with allowing the yeast to do something that if 99% of yeast strains in the world were allowed to do would produce detrimental results. The process or lack there of is a simple free climb in temperature with no cooling whatsoever. Normally when a yeast consumes sugar during fermentation one of the byproducts is heat. In a enclosed space like a fermenter the thermal mass can get quite warm and as a result if it isn't cooled (typically between 60-70ish degrees Fahrenheit) the yeast will produce off flavors in the beer that in essence contaminate it making it very unpleasant to drink.

The exception to this in the brewing world are Belgian Saison yeast strains, which researchers speculate might have derived from wine yeast strains which seem to perform well closer to blood temperature. So here on Baltimore Ave we allow the yeast to start fermenting and because we have turned off the controls to our glycol cooling jacket on our fermenter what results is a fermentation the build higher and higher temperatures each day. Typically I've seen the digital thermometers read as high as 88 degrees Fahrenheit and I've heard of other breweries hitting 95. Maybe next year we can turn off the AC in the building and see how high we can get the fermenter...just kidding.

This years version in my opinion is a much better example of what I'm shooting for as its substantially drier than last years version enabling the yeast and late hop additions to shine in the glass. I hope you can find the simply joy in a very straight foward exotic beer.


  1. Saison is my (current) favorite style of beer as well, so I made a pointed effort to visit Franklin's yesterday to try your 2011 version. I loved, loved, loved your 2010 Saison, and I think I prefer 2010 to 2011. It's hard to say since you're competing with a memory. The 2011 is slightly hoppier than I prefer in a Saison, but only by a smidge. It's probably just me. It's still an excellent beer and one of my favorite seasonals at Franklin's. Keep it coming!

    I also very much enjoyed Dank U and am looking forward to trying your Dunkelweizen soon.


  2. Thanks Ed,

    Do you recall what you enjoyed about the '10 version? The main difference in my opinion is the fact that the '10 was a bit sweeter and thus covered up some of the hop character. The '11 is drier and I think the hops come through a bit more pronounced. Beyond that its practically and identical recipe. If you haven't come down to try the Ludicrous,our Sour Rye Saison, I highly recommend it, but I might be biased.