Friday, May 9, 2014

Fruit Saisons: We use all parts of the buffalo.

Pouring a lovely glass of FiTR w/Peaches. My neighbors must think I'm nuts.

Over the last 6+ months I have been playing with fruit Saisons more and more, I have been trying to keep all factors consistent with a base beer of Farmer in the Rye with ECY03 Brett addition. I started this by chance because a batch last year stalled when using WLP565 to which I added the Brett then racked onto Mangos. I enjoy that beer but its a bit watery, which I think may be caused by how I pureed the dense Mangos. Most recently ,over the summer, I took on adding fresh NJ Peaches to the same base beer. 

Since posting a little video on Instagram I received some question on my process for adding fruit to these types of beers. My process is pretty simple, using information that I have gathered from some brewing articles and podcasts over the years. Especially info that Jean Van Roy from Cantillon had shared on a podcast on Basic Brewing Radio. 

I like to use fresh, sometimes dried, fruit instead of the canned puréed fruit you see at homebrew shops, although I did purée the fresh Mango. Using the purée is fine but when I've used it as compared to fresh or dry the fruit flavors aren't as bright and vibrant as fresh and even dry can be. Another added benefit is adding some wild yeast living on the skin of the fruit for complexity (unpredictability?). 
Pits not pictured, add them last due to fear of overflow.

I use a ratio of 1-1.5lbs of fruit per gallon of beer aged in secondary, which is a fair amount but we want some fruit flavor/aroma no? When using fresh fruit I wash the outside with warm water to get any chemicals cleaned off, then cut them into ~1 inch cubes leaving the skins on. I then throw everything into a large ziplock bag and toss it into the freezer for a few days. When I say everything I mean everything, skins, pits, stem, all parts of the buffalo, everything (EDIT: see below regarding the use of pits, and the risks of doing so.). By freezing we are breaking down the cell walls in fruit to make it much easier for the Brett/Sacch to break it down for food. It's also beneficial in storing fruit for use out of season, I have used fruit that had been frozen for close to a year. I imagine you can go much longer than that even. 

In the case of the Peaches, which I picked up fresh at a farmers market in South Jersey, I froze them for 5 days, added the fruit (and buffalo parts) into the secondary and racked right on top of the frozen fruit, no need to defrost. I have never done a side by side to test this out but I feel that adding the skin and the pits adds some color and depth of flavor. This beer has a slight nuttiness to it that I think comes from the pits and skin of the Peach, this is a technique JVR uses as well. If it's good enough for Cantillon it's more than good enough for us homebrewers. 

Farmer in the Rye w/Peaches

Appearance: straw yellow, pours with minimal to no head despite moderate carbonation. Head dissipates to a very small almost nonexistent ring on the side

Aroma: Hay, earthy funkiness, peach skins with an overripe peach note. There is a subtle peppery spice aroma hidden there, a very welcoming aroma.

Taste: A dry tartness upfront balanced with a bit of the peach flavors in the middle. There is a soft prickle of carbonation on the tongue but it may be a little bit low on the carbonation level for this beer. In the middle of the mouth there is a subtle biscuit like flavor to me, that fades immediately, its an interesting character. The finish is dry and clean, very refreshing, it makes you want to go in for another sip. This is pretty exceptional if I do say so myself.

Overall: I really enjoy this beer, its dry, slightly tart and very refreshing. I would imagine this would be perfect on a picnic in a park on a nice summer day. Whats most interesting about the beer is the tartness, there is no lacto or souring organism in this beer only Saison yeast and Brett. I would imagine I either caught something from the Peaches or the juice from the Peach left the beer with some acidity. I didn't take a PH of the finished beer but I should have, next bottle I pour I will measure a sample and post an update.

Gun to my head, this is one of the top beers I have ever brewed. The peach is subtle but complimentary, it all comes together resulting in a beautiful farmhouse beer.

EDIT: After posting a link to this article on Reddit I took some flack for the use of the pits from the Peaches, full disclosure only 3 pits made it into 5 gallons of this beer since the carboy was overflowing. There are very small amounts of cyanide within the seeds , which are contained within the stone (pit) of peaches, cherries, apricots, and others in the Prunus family. If you do not mash open the pits and the seeds the risk is minimal if at all, even then you probably did not use enough for there to be concern.

I will link here to a few articles as the chemistry gets a bit over my head. But I wanted to note the risks here, I learned a good deal while doing this research. Am I worried about my beer? No, I'm not, at all actually. If you have drank a Belgian Kriek then you've drank a beer that was aged for a long period on Cherry pits (same deal with Cherries). I just don't want to advise anyone to do something without doing the research. In closing, add the pits at your own risk.

TTB's Limited Ingredients. - Cherry Pits up to 25ppm cyanide is allowed.


  1. Sounds great... I'm really regretting we didn't go ahead with that homebrew trade.

    1. I love it, and can't wait to do it again this fall. That was my bad, I got gun shy with the prices shipping over the border :(

  2. Hello there Ed, I'm looking to brew up 10 gallons of your Farmer in the Rye recipe this spring, I plan to leave half the batch clean, and add some brett and peaches to the other half. Question is, I think I'm going to use TYB's Wallonian farmhouse in primary and I figured I might as well pick up one of their Bretts for the half with brett and peaches. Any idea which one might be a good choice for this brew? Or should I just go with one of the more common strains (I have pretty easy access to whitelabs)


    1. Hey Jerad, thanks for reading. Sounds like a great split batch there, I have used all of TYB's Brett blends except Amalgamation (I have a beer in the ferm with it now). I think the blend that would fit best is the Beersel blend, it has a nice fruitiness to it with an underlying rustic funkiness that I think should all pair well with the base beer with peaches. I might suggest Lochristi, but I am afraid that blend is very subtle and may get overpowered a bit. The Brussels blend is full on sweaty, funky, barnyard classic Brett so if youre looking for that...IMO Beersel is a great match. Cheers!

  3. Sorry to revive an older post, but I just racked a similar saison recipe (less rye, some oats, some acid malt, no sugar, and with WYEAST 3031 pitched in primary) onto peaches and nectarines. All those little bastards are floating, which is not something I had thought about beforehand this being my first fruit aging rodeo. Do they eventually sink? Do I need to worry about punching them down periodically to make sure unwanted stuff doesn't start growing? Is a massive brett fruit pellicle going to form to protect it?

  4. They might sink once fermentation settles way down, things tend to kick back up when you add the fruit, but a few times they have not for me. I dont worry about it unless the fruit is being pushed out of the fermenter, which has happened to me before. I think Jester King has some info on wether or not to perform punch downs on their blog, I will see if I can dig it up.

    1. Here is the post, they do it for fear of oxidation and acetobacter but I believe they are using open vessels and not closed so their risk is higher. You could give yours a little punch down but they may rise back up again, but if in a sealed carboy youre likely fine, just keep an eye on it.

    2. Thanks for the reply. And thanks for tracking down that link. I love your site.