Award-winning homebrewer and shop owner Paul Zocco shares his personal farmhouse ale recipe—and, most important, the yeast-strain additions and their particular time of inoculation.
OG: 1.070 FG: 1.006 IBUs: 25 ABV: 8.2%
MALT/GRAIN BILL - 12 lb (5.4 kg) Pilsner malt - 1 lb (453 g) Vienna malt - 1 lb (453 g) Munich malt
HOPS SCHEDULE - 1 oz (28 g) Perle at 60 minutes - 1 oz (28 g) Styrian Goldings at 15 minutes
YEAST Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saison Wyeast 3725 Bière de Garde Wyeast 3711 French Saison dry Pasteur Champagne yeast
DIRECTIONS For optimal fermentation, each yeast strain must be started with DME (dry malt extract) the day before brew day. Each starter should be one liter in volume.
Mash the crushed malt so the rest temperature is 152°F (67°C). The grain to water grist ratio is 1:1. Heat the strike water to 167°F (75°C), add the crushed malt, and mix in thoroughly. Mash for 1 hour. After the mash is complete, recirculate the runoff until it runs clear. Sparge the contents with 170°F (77°C) water until you have 6.5 gallons in your kettle. Boil, following the hops schedule above.
After the wort has cooled to below 80°F (27°C), transfer the contents to the primary fermentation vessel. Then the fun begins as you start pitching the yeast.
The first inoculation of yeast is Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saison. This strain produces the spice and earthy notes typical in this style. Fermentation should start within 6 hours, possibly sooner.
Six hours after you observe yeast activity, pitch Wyeast 3725 Bière de Garde. These are competing strains, but there is still a full dinner buffet of malt sugars available for the hungry yeasts. The character of earthy, spicy, and phenolics of the second yeast will be produced.
Give both strains another 6 or 8 hours, and then pitch Wyeast 3711 French Saison. Being a very high attenuator and a good producer of esters, phenols, and spice, this yeast will join the others gorging and finishing the malt buffet.
Conduct the primary fermentation for 10 days. The temperature is up to you. Use what I’ve said about the yeasts in “Homebrew Fundamentals for Saisons and Bières de Garde” to guide your decision. (For a simple hot fermentation box, see “Heat up Your Fermentation,” below.)
After 10 days in primary fermentation, transfer the contents into a secondary vessel. Leave it for 2 more weeks. The fermentation may be complete before, but give it time just to make sure.
Bottle condition with ¾ cup of corn sugar or 1¼ cups of DME (dry malt extract). Add the Champagne yeast to ensure bottle conditioning if the other three yeast strains have become weakened. After a week to 10 days, enjoy your farmhouse ale.
Recipe is built to yield a batch size of 5 gallons (19 liters) and assumes 72% brewhouse efficiency.
Heat up Your Fermentation
If your local ambient temperature is 65–70°F (18°C–21°C) and you desire 85°F (29°C), you can build a simple hot fermentation box. Visit your local supermarket or department store and pick up a cardboard box large enough to cover your primary fermentor with a little extra headroom. Hang a 15- or 20-watt incandescent light bulb inside the box so that the bulb is not in contact with the cardboard. You don’t want a fire! Cut a 6-inch x 6-inch flap in the top of the box to spill off and adjust the internal heat if the temperature gets too high. Punch a hole in the top of the box with a pencil and push in a thermometer or probe to monitor the temperature within. With a little practice and adjusting, you will be able get the temperature you desire.
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