Last year the Holiday-Style Brew was a Belgian Dubbel with a variety of spices w/ a decent amount of fig additions. We opted for the title, "Dubbel de Figs." This year I had a hankering to brew the Northern Brewer Saison de Noel. I must have a thing for beer names with "de" in them. What I ended up making was a Dark Saison. I went with a decent Pils base, some Aromatic, Special B, and Debittered Carafa III. Honey and Turbinado Sugar have been a nice addition to my Belgians. I picked up that little mosaic of sugars from a Brewing Network episode with Jolly Pumpkin.
I love a very dry saison. The WLP Saison I is a bit sweeter than any of the other saison strains and with the temperature in my basement hoovering around 65 degrees I had to smoother blankets around the carboy to keep the temperature as high as I can get it without a heating pad of some sorts. Why did I do this without a heating pad? I don't know, but never again without one for a saison in the winter. I had deep, looming fear of the gravity stalling in the 1.030 range. I had done my best to let go for 2 weeks. At 12 days in I checked the gravity and sure enough it was struggling. Time to rouse the yeast. But with the Aromatic and Special B malts, a bit of fruitiness might be nice, but maybe to dubbel(ish).
It ended up finishing out at 1.010 and I am pretty satisfied. It showcases the Special B nicely, but for future dark saisons I would rather a dehusked black malt. I seem to have a bit too many Belgians laying around and nothing dark and strong. A week ago I had two nice IPAs tapped and now none. My Dark Farmhouse V.2 is bottle conditioning so adding a sour to my refrigerator is going to be nice. The Chocolate Oatmeal Stout that I brewed for a holiday gift is tapped as well. I only kegged 4 gallons and bottled a few for family. In need of something with a higher ABV during the winter I have been buying some Russian Imperials as of late. Philly Brewing Co. Shackamaxon Stout has hit the shelves and it is a nice local treat. The RIS that I brewed late in the year has nothing but months of aging to look forward to. So for now it looks like the Rye Farmhouse and future IPA will replace those kegs soon.
A Winter Eden- Robert Frost
A winter garden in an alder swamp, Where conies now come out to sun and romp, As near a paradise as it can be And not melt snow or start a dormant tree. It lifts existence on a plane of snow One level higher than the earth below, One level nearer heaven overhead, And last year's berries shining scarlet red. It lifts a gaunt luxuriating beast Where he can stretch and hold his highest feat On some wild apple tree's young tender bark, What well may prove the year's high girdle mark. So near to paradise all pairing ends: Here loveless birds now flock as winter friends, Content with bud-inspecting. They presume To say which buds are leaf and which are bloom. A feather-hammer gives a double knock. This Eden day is done at two o'clock. An hour of winter day might seem too short To make it worth life's while to wake and sport.
OG: 1.068 FG 1.010
90 Min Boil
Pilsner, Aromatic, Carafa III, Special B Malts
Orange Blossom Honey, Turbinado Sugar
Magnum, Amarillo Hops
WLP 565-Saison 1