Just Brewed: Dark Heather Saison

30 May

This recipe was designed to mimic New Belgium’s Dark Heather Saison. It is essentially a saison with added dark grains and spices (black pepper, cardamom, and heather tips). The results is—at least in the New Belgium version—a light bodied, drinkable beer with hints of chocolate and a spicy, peppery finish. This is much darker than a traditional saison, hence the name. Click here for the detailed recipe.

Batch Size: 6.00 gal

Boil Size: 8.63 gal
Boil Time: 90 min
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00
Amount Item Type % or IBU
9.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 70.53 %
0.75 lb Munich Malt (9.0 SRM) Grain 5.88 %
0.75 lb Wheat Malt, Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 5.88 %
0.50 lb Carafa II (412.0 SRM) Grain 3.92 %
0.13 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 1.02 %
0.13 lb Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 1.02 %
1.80 oz Saaz [4.00 %] (60 min) Hops 26.9 IBU
1.00 oz Saaz [4.00 %] (0 min) Hops -
1.00 tsp Black Peppercorn (measured after coarse grind) (Boil 5.0 min) Misc
1.00 tsp Cardamom Seeds (measured before grind) (Boil 5.0 min) Misc
1.00 oz Heather Tips (Boil 5.0 min) Misc
1.50 lb Cane (Beet) Sugar (0.0 SRM) Sugar 11.76 %
2 Pkgs Belgian Saison (Wyeast Labs #3724) Yeast-Ale
Beer Profile

Est Original Gravity: 1.062 SG

Measured Original Gravity: 1.060 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.013 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.008 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.44 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 6.79 %
Bitterness: 26.9 IBU Calories: 265 cal/pint
Est Color: 21.1 SRM Color:

Mash Profile
Mash Name: Single Infusion, Light Body Total Grain Weight: 11.26 lb
Sparge Water: 6.86 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F TunTemperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: TRUE Mash PH: 5.2 PH
Single Infusion, Light Body
Step Time Name Description Step Temp
90 min Mash In Add 15.00 qt of water at 157.7 F 147.0 F
10 min Mash Out Heat to 168.0 F over 15 min 168.0 F
Mash Notes: Simple single infusion mash for use with most modern well modified grains (about 95% of the time).


After mixing the spices together, I noticed that each had a somewhat peppery aroma, which should play well together. The cardamom had the most intense character, but since the recipe uses very little, it should not be overpowering.

The brew procedure was a single infusion mash at 147° F for 1.5 hours. I was using a PID controller for the first time and have yet to work out some of the kinks. It ended up overshooting the temp by about 5 degrees. I had to add some ice to get the temp down quickly. I realized later that I should have gone through the “auto-tune” procedure on the PID which would have kept it from overshooting the temp. I’ll figure out the auto-tune piece for the next brew.

I tasted the wort post-boil and it was very sweet, but I could definitely taste the character of the spaces in the finish. I’m looking forward to tasting how this ferments.

Fermentation started quickly (in about 4 hours) and is going strong at 69° F.

History of Saison

Saison doesn’t have quite the storied past of styles like bock or porter. Its humble birth occurred in the farm houses of Wallonia, Belgium. Saison was the beer brewed by households for their own consumption. This style brewed by the French speaking people in southern Belgium shares a lot of similarities with the Bière de Garde style of France. Originally this was a seasonal beer brewed in spring to last through summer and into autumn. Therefore is had to be durable and refreshing – a tall order for ales brewed in the days before refrigeration.

Update 6/01:

Fermentation is nearly 50% completed. Tasted a sample and it is, of course, still very sweet. The spice character is very strong at this point, but I think this is probably due to the sugars still in the beer. Fermentation has slowed significantly but still steady.

Posted in Beers


Leave a Reply

  1. Larry

    June 7, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Did you have to increase the temperature to get it to finish off? This yeast has a reputation for stalling at normal fermentation temperatures.

  2. C Simental

    June 7, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Hi Larry. That’s a good point. As I recall I did increase the temp during the last 1/3 of fermentation, probably to about 75F.