4 Steps to Brew Saison Beer

Saison is a hazy Belgian beer that’s perfect for the summer. Saison is French for “season.” We thought it wise to explain how to brew Saison beer as you prepare for the summer season.

We’ll outline all the ingredients and equipment needed for this brew. We’ll also explain the step-by-step process of brewing your own Saison beer. You can also expect some useful hacks and tips for brewing Saison.

But first, below is an overview of the Saison beer style:

Saison Style Guidelines
Color Range Pale Saison: 3-14 SRM
Dark Saison: 15-22 SRM
Original Gravity 1.048-1.065 OG
Final Gravity 1.002-1.008 FG
IBU Range 20-38 IBU
ABV Range Table: 3.5-4.9% ABV
Standard: 5.0-6.9% ABV
Super: 7.0-9.5% ABV
  • Light straw to dark amber
  • Slightly hazy
  • Fruity esters (lemon/orange)
  • Low to moderate hop aroma
  • Herbal or spicy hops
  • Little to no malt aroma
  • Faint sour/acidic flavor
  • Hints of peppery notes
  • Orange and lemon notes
  • Low malt flavor
  • Moderate to high hop bitterness
Mouthfeel Light to medium body
Serving & Storage Temperature Serving Temperature: 45-55°F
Glassware: Tulip
Shelf Life Bottled: 36 months
On Tap: 12 months
Food Pairings Meal Pairings: Mussels, roasted chicken
Cheese Pairings: Brie, parmesan
Dessert Pairings: Lemon Ginger Sorbet


I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but beer is brewed from four primary ingredients. They include water, malt, hops, and yeast. Let’s look at these ingredients from the lens of Saison brewing.

Water Treatment

Water Treatment

Water makes up about 95% of beer. As a Belgian beer style, Saison brewing requires water with a similar profile to Belgian water. The southern region of Wallonia, Belgium, is synonymous with hard water. The hardness helps accentuate the dry finish and bitterness of Saisons.

Many Belgian breweries tend to use this hard water with no adjustments. You can make your brewing water hard by adding gypsum.

Malt and Fermentables

Malt and Fermentables

Martin Keen shoots for an original gravity of 1.055 OG in his recipe. To brew his pale-style Saison, Martin uses American Pilsner malt for his base. This pale malt makes up 67% of his grain bill. Pilsner malts are known to promote crispness in Saisons.

He also adds Munich Type I at 19% of his grain bill. Munich malts impart a strong and sweet malty flavor to your Saison. Martin’s grain bill also contains 9% White Wheat Malt. This addition adds body and head retention to your Saison while imparting a strong wheat flavor.

Martin adds corn sugar, constituting 5%, to boost his final gravity. Below is a table highlighting the constitution of Martin Keen’s grain bill:

Malt/Fermentable Quantity in Pounds Percentage of Grain Bill
American Pilsner Malt 7 lbs 67%
Munich Type 2 lbs 19%
White Wheat Malt 1 lb 9%
Corn Sugar 8 oz 5%

Hop Selection

Hop Selection

Saison, like other Belgian styles, is a malt and yeast-centered beer. Hop bitterness helps balance the malt sweetness. Martin Keen only uses the Austrian hop, Styrian Golding, for his recipe.

Yeast Selection

Yeast Selection

Belgian-style Saisons are famous for their tart, acidic character. To achieve this flavor profile, you need the right yeast. For his recipe, Martin Keen settles for Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saison Yeast.

Wyeast 3724 is a warm-fermenting yeast. It requires relatively high fermentation temperatures, typically between 70-95°F. Lower fermentation temperatures risk a stuck fermentation. The recommended sweet spot of this yeast is around 90°F.

Wyeast 3724 offers a high attenuation along with fruity, spicy, and earthy flavors.

Brewing Equipment

Brewing Equipment

To successfully and consistently brew a beer, you need the right equipment. Below is a list of all the brewing equipment used by Martin Keen in his brew:

  • A 240V ClawHammer Brewing System
  • Spike Conical Conical Fermentor
  • A pH Meter
  • A Hydrometer
  • A Fermenter
  • A Grain mill
  • A Wooden Spoon

*Note: A grain mill is not strictly necessary. You can buy already-milled grains from your local homebrew store.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Brewing Saison Beer

Let’s move on to the brewing process; we’re using Martin Keen’s recipe as a reference. Below are the steps to follow when brewing a Belgian-style Saison:

Prepping Your Ingredients

Prepping Your Ingredients

Regardless of your intended beer style, you must sterilize your equipment before starting your brew. To sterilize your brewing equipment, boil the pieces in water or disinfect them with sanitizer.

Malt preparation involves milling the grains. You don’t have to mill the corn sugar. During mashing, enzymes break down the starches in the malt into fermentable sugars. Milling helps increase the surface area for enzyme-led saccharification.

Tip: You can buy already-milled grains from your local homebrew store.

You also need to prepare your water for brewing. The Belgians use hard water to brew Saison. If you have soft water, you can harden it by adding gypsum.

Take a pH reading of the water. Our target pH is 5.5-5.8. If you obtain higher readings, adjust them with some lactic acid. Add your hard water to your brewing kettle and heat to 155°F.


With your strike temperature at 150-155°F, install your grain bag and add your grist. Do not add the corn sugar at this stage. Gently stir your mash with the wooden spoon. Stirring helps eliminate hotspots that may develop in the brewing kettle. Let your mash cook at 152°F for 60 minutes.



At the end of the mash, withdraw your grain bag to separate the spent grain from the wort. Install your hop basket. Our brewmaster, Martin Keen, only uses one hop variety for bittering and flavoring.

Bring your wort to a boil and add one ounce of Styrian Golding. This addition is for bittering. We intend to let it boil for 60 minutes. After 50 minutes, add another ounce of Styrian Golding. The second hop addition is for flavoring, and it will boil for the final 10 minutes.

At flameout, withdraw your hop basket and add your corn sugar. Stir the solution as the corn sugar dissolves. Let the wort cool.


The Belgian Saison is a warm-fermenting beer. Failure to maintain warm fermentation temperatures may cause the fermentation process to halt prematurely. Martin Keen’s fermentation setup involves two conical fermentors, a heating pad, and a glycol chiller.

To heat the fermenting wort, Martin uses a heating pad. And to maximize heat retention, he slips the fermentor into its jacket. Wyeast 3724 works best at 90-95°F. In Martin’s setup, the heating pad warms the wort to 90°F. Should the fermentation temperature exceed 95°F, the glycol chiller kicks in.

After setting up the fermentor, he transfers the wort and adds one packet of Wyeast 3724. Martin Keen lets his beer ferment for a few weeks before cold-breaking the fermentation process.

Brewing Saison Beer: Adjusting Your Recipe

Now, let’s look at some helpful tips to help you develop your Saison recipe.

Malt Tips

Pale Ale or Pilsner malts are the usual base malts for Saison brewing. You can also use a combination of both to induce various effects.

Pale Ale Malts offer more flavor, while Pilsner Malts offer more crispness. For the best result, your grain bill should contain at least 65% Pale Ale or Pilsner malts.

Vienna and Munich malts are common additions. They make 10-25% of the grain bill. Vienna adds sweet, grainy, and malty characteristics to your Saison. Munich malt imparts a sweeter and maltier flavor with a less grainy profile. Using both malt varieties in the same grain bill would be unusual.

Vienna and Munich malts are also available in Cara versions. You can use these Cara varieties to add color, character, and sweetness to your Saison.

It is common to use wheat malt in a Saison. Keep your additions below 20% to adhere to the beer style. Wheat additions under 5% help add body and head retention without imparting a full wheat flavor.

Sugar additions are common among Belgian-style beers. Sugars lower the body and boost beer drinkability. They can also be used to add color. For Saisons, you can use sugars up to 20%.

You can introduce sugar in different forms, including syrup or candy sugar. You can also use other sources of sugar, like honey.

Yeast struggles to ferment unrefined sugars completely. Avoid these types of sugars when entering any BJCP competitions. Regular table sugar will do as it is fully fermentable.

Crystal malt also features in many recipes. It is used in small amounts, typically below 5%, to balance color if large quantities of wheat are used. In the case of low-wheat additions, we use lower-color Crystal malts to help with body and head retention.

For specialty malts, you have many options at your disposal. The best choices are those of Belgian origins, including Special B, Aromatic, and Abbey. For this Saison, stick with either one or two specialty malts.

Hop Tips

Hop additions for Saisons are 60 minutes for bittering and 15 minutes for flavoring. Common hops used for this style are European, including:

  • Saaz
  • Magnum
  • Tettnanger,
  • Hersbruker
  • Hallertau

Yeast Tips

Recommended Saison yeasts include:

Dry Yeast Liquid Yeast
Lallemand Belle Saison Wyest 3711
Safale BE-134 White Labs WLP565



The Belgian Saison is a warm fermenting beer. Follow these instructions and Martin Keen’s recipe to brew your own Saison at home. Our hacks will also help your brew within style even as you seek to enter your beer in BJCP competitions.

4 Steps to Brew Saison Beer

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