The saison style originated in Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium. It was traditionally brewed for farm workers as a refreshing beverage to accompany the hard harvest labor in the fall. Typically it had to be strong enough to last throughout the summer, but still be easy to drink and keep the workers relatively sober. Often hops played a part in allowing the lower alcohol beer to last throughout the summer.
Due to the history of being brewed in farmhouses, there tends to be incredible variations in the saison style. With the amount of variability, the main defining characteristic is in the yeast and the spiciness it imparts on the end product. I have taken aspects of several saison recipes I have used in the past to created this saison mead recipe. As a nod to its farmhouse beginnings, I give you “Welcome This Is a Farmhouse” saison mead recipe (cluster flies not included):
Recipe makes 3 gallons
- 3 gal water
- 6 lbs Orange Blossom Honey
- 1 tsp Yeast Nutrient
- Wyeast 3711 French Saison Yeast
- 1 Lemon
- 2 oz Saaz Pellet Hops
- 3/4 cup Corn Sugar
- In a large brew pot, boil 3 gallons of water.
- With the pot removed from the burner, add 2 lbs honey. Make sure to stir the water so the honey dissolves completely and doesn’t burn on the botttom of the pot. When the honey fully dissolved, return the pot to the burner.
- As the liquid starts boiling again, add 1/2 0z Saaz pellet hops, boil for 15 minutes then add another ½ oz Saaz hops for another 15 min.
- At the end of the boil, remove the pot from the burner and let cool to about 90 degrees fahrenheit. Add and dissolve the remaining 4 lbs of honey along with the juice of one lemon.
- Add the must to a primary fermenter, aerate the heck out of it, and pitch the yeast.
- Seal fermentor with airlock and store in a dark place at a temperature of about 70 degrees.
- After 2 weeks, with a siphon, re-rack the mead into a sanitized 3 gallon carboy.
- Add the remaining 1 oz of hops in a muslin bag to the secondary.
- After 2 weeks, re-rack, then let age for 4 months (age through the summer).
- Dissolve the corn sugar in 1 cup warm water and add to carboy.
- Fill sanitized bottles and let age for another 2 weeks.
- Drink chilled in a mason at harvest time!
…For added interest:
I like to split my three gallon batches into individual 1 gal carboys for varied aging techniques. For this, I made one gallon as the recipe states above, the second with orange peel, and the third with orange peel and French Oak Cubes. All three came out great!