Sunday, January 20, 2013

Belle Saison Dry Ale Yeast

This is a new strain from Danstar/Lallemand, and the first dry Saison yeast that I'm aware of. I noticed it in my last trip down to Larry's Homebrew. I asked them about it, but it has only been on their shelves for a couple of days, so they don't have any feedback. Larry's sells it for $4.95 for an 11 gram packet.

According to the manufacturer,
Belle Saison is an ale yeast of Belgian origin selected for its ability to produce great Saison-style beer. The propagation and drying processes have been specifically designed to deliver high quality beer yeast that can be used simply and reliably to help produce ales of the finest quality.
  • Quick start and vigorous fermentation, which can be completed in 5 days above 17°C (63°F). High attenuation and high alcohol tolerance.
  • Fermentation rate, fermentation time and degree of attenuation depend on inoculation density, yeast handling, fermentation temperature and nutritional quality of wort.
  • Low flocculation rate; settling can be promoted by cooling and by using fining agents and isinglass.
  • Saison beers are quite unique to brew. During fermentation, cooling is not normally used, allowing temperature of fermentation to increase.
  • Aroma is fruity, spicy and peppery due to ester and phenol production, and does not display undesirable odours when properly handled.

Let's break this down a bit. "Belle Saison" really means "Belgian Saison" style ale yeast, with belle possibly having a double meaning that indicates that the yeast has lovely phenolics? Like other saisons, it wants to ferment on the warm side. If you can expect a completed ferment if five days, it apparently does not experience the sluggishness common with Dupont strains.

According to the PDF on the Danstar website, the commercial brewer should "Use 100 g of active dry yeast to inoculate 100 litres of wort." The home-brewer package recommends 1 grams of dry yeast to inoculate 1 liter of wort, or roughly two packages per five gallon batch. With 220 billion cells per packet, that's a lot of yeast, and even one packet is a bit more than the pitch rate recommended by MrMalty for a five gallon batch of an average saison. Danstar also says that the yeast does not need to be aerated.

This all sounds like they are not expecting a growth phase at the recommended inoculation rate. Since so many flavors come from the growth phase, I'm planing to pitch less than the suggested amount and aerate, which should cause the yeast to grow a bit. If that introduces a bit of lag time, so be it.

The pro brewer rehydration instructions (which are much more extensive than the homebrew instructions) are as follows:
  • Sprinkle yeast on surface of 10 times its weight of clean sterilized (boiled) tap water at 30-35°C (86-92°F). Do not use wort, or distilled or reverse osmosis water, as loss in viability may result. GENTLY break any clumps to ensure that all yeast is in contact with rehydration medium. DO NOT STIR. Leave undisturbed for 15 minutes then suspend yeast completely and leave it for 5 more minutes at 30-35°C (86-92°F). Then adjust temperature to wort and inoculate without delay.
  • Attemperate by blending portions of wort at 5-minute intervals, below 10°C (50°F) at a time. Do not allow attemperation to be carried out by natural heat loss as this will take too long and could result in loss of viability or vitality.
  • Temperature shock, at greater than 10°C (50°F), will cause formation of petite mutants, leading to long or incomplete fermentation and possible formation of undesirable flavours.
  • Belle Saison Yeast has been conditioned to survive rehydration, and contains an adequate reservoir of carbohydrates and unsaturated fatty acids to achieve active growth. It is not necessary to aerate wort.

I'm excited to try this. If this turns out to be a good yeast, it's one more thing that I can "stock" at home and avoid extra trips to the homebrew store.

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