I took my Wild Saison, fermented with yeast harvested from the Lavender Bush (actually it’s a Russian Sage bush) in my back yard, to my local homebrew club meeting this past Thursday evening. I had some really nice comments about it. I also took two pints of the wild yeast. One pint went to my friend Matt, who assisted me in harvesting this wild yeast and the other went to my friends Jeff and Alan. All three make superb beer and I’m curious to see what they create with this yeast.
Appearance: The beer is a cloudy medium dark golden hue, with maybe a hint of light red, that pours with a thin 3/8 inch white head that quickly dissipates to a very thin wisp.
Aroma: I get whiffs of honey, licorice with no hop character present. A sweet aroma is how I would describe it. Some malt is present, but it’s difficult to detect.
Taste: The licorice is there and so is the honey. Sweet tasting, despite the final gravity of 1.006. Definitely yeast forward flavors, since the grain bill was 90% Belgium Pilsner, 5% Munich and 5% Belgium Wheat Malt. The hops were Hallertauer (2 ounces at 60 minutes and 1 ounce at flameout). I detect a floral spice (coriander?), some lemon maybe, but a not a citrusy flavor. I think the flavor is mostly coming from the yeast, with the remainder coming from the pilsner and munich malts. What’s lacking that I’d like to have is a drier finish.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and silky. I think it needs to have more carbonation, to help with a drier finish at the end.
Overall Impression: Very easy drinking, but a little too sweet for my tastes. I mashed at 147F, so I can’t lower the mash temperature too much more to get it to dry out. Maybe the Munich Malt was too much for this yeast to be able to dry it out. The next version, I’ll probably up the Wheat Malt considerably and maybe do away with the Munich Malt. That should help with head retention and maybe get a drier finish. Still, it’s a great first attempt at a “Wild Saison”.