I absolutely love the Wyeast 3711 French Saison yeast. I've brewed 2 beers with it now. Although both were takes on saisons, they were very different. The French Saison yeast worked great in both! The first was my Red Wheat Saison. (I'm convincing myself little by little that the local homebrew store gave me something other than red wheat, because the color was much darker than expected and the flavor was different too. Regardless, it turned out to be a nice "export strength" strong brown beer with nice spice character from the yeast.) After giving 3711 a try with great results, I ordered 3 more packs of it to try varying the recipe in various ways. (I really should get better at saving & re-using yeast, but that's a project for another day. By the end of summer I hope to be ready to start culturing yeasts from bottles more regularly and saving them. These will go hand in hand at that point.)
On 4/9 I brewed my second beer with this yeast. Although the Red Wheat Saison has been a big hit, I wanted to scale back the gravity significantly, lighten up the color, and brew a nice refreshing session beer. While weighting out my grain at Northern Brewer, I made a last minute decision to include a few ounces of acidulated malt to crisp the beer up a little more, give it an even more refreshing edge, and really make the spiciness of the wheat pop. The recipe turned out as follows:
Summer Saaz Saison
brewed on: 4/9/10
OG: 1.041 (I was quite happy with this, as I was shooting for 1.040. This makes a few brews in a rom mow where I've just about hit the OG right on the money. That means I've finally gotten my all-grain system dialed in.
Expected IBUs: 29
mash temp: 149F (I undershot this by a bit and ended up pulling off a pan full of the mash, bringing it to a boil and adding it back. This hit the target temp right on.)
6 lbs. Belgian Pilsen Malt
1 lbs 12oz. US White Wheat
4 oz. Acidulated Malt
(mashed for 2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes)
1.5 oz. Saaz @ 3.9% - 60 minutes
1 oz. Saaz @ 3.9% - 15 minutes
1.5 oz. Saaz @ 3.9% - Flameout
.5 oz. Hallertauer Hersbrucker @ 3.5% - Flameout
(I intended this to be an all Saaz beer, but the .5 oz of Hallertauer was sitting in the freezer from a recent brew, so I added that in as well.)
1 oz. Saaz @ 3.9%
Wyeast 3711 French Saison
Fermented at 66-68F.
4/17 SG @ 1.003. Racked to secondary, added dry hops, and moved to basement (62F).
I'm tempted to try a similar recipe, but with significantly more acid malt to bring the tartness level up to a more "forward" level, perhaps slightly milder than a Berliner Weiss. We'll see. I've got a whole list of saison variations to try in my brewing notebook now!