Saison Recipes – Ingredients, Water Profile, & Brewing Notes

The Saison is the classic style loved by craft beer drinkers and homebrewers alike. This Belgian beer style is full of culture, flavor, and funk with plenty of quirks. 

Brew a crisp and dry Saison using traditional ingredients. Belgian yeast strains give this style fruity and spicy flavors and aromas. Hops like Saaz and Hallertau lend complementary earthy and herbal notes. Pilsner Malt adds light color and a clean slate to showcase the yeast and hops. Bottle-condition for heightened flavors and aromas.

Keep reading for an in-depth guide to choosing Saison ingredients and how to use them. Then put your new knowledge to use and brew your own using one (or more) of the recipes I’ve compiled!

What is a Saison?

Saisons are a unique beer style with a loyal fanbase and following. Many well-versed craft beer drinkers claim the Saison as their favorite beer style despite its – for some – potentially off-putting characteristics.

On the same hand, Saison is a beer style with such approachability that non-beer drinkers can enjoy this crisp ale. The style retains staple characteristics in each creation, but breweries are quick to put their own spin on Saisons–some with a bit more funk than others.

The style is low in alcohol with an emphasis on drinkability. It has slightly tart flavors and aromas with bubbly carbonation. The dryness adds to its crispness and refreshing qualities.

Saison is a farmhouse ale originally from the Wallonia region of Belgium. It’s a golden to light amber ale that uses Belgian yeast strains and other ingredients, commonly spices, to give the beer its signature characteristics. Fruity esters with herbal, woody, and spicy hop aromas are common. Funky flavors described as horsey, goaty, and leathery are also common.

Key Characteristics of a Saison - infographic with ABV, aroma, mouthfeel, IBU, color, and flavor
Key Characteristics of a Saison

Defining characteristics of Saisons include:

  • Color – Pale yellow to amber, 3-7 SRM
  • Common flavor – Hop and malt balance with earthy and herbal notes
  • Aroma – Fruity and spicy esters from Belgian yeast with some European hop notes
  • Mouthfeel – Thin and crisp with medium to high carbonation
  • IBUs (Bitterness) – 20-38
  • ABV – 5-6.8%

History of the Saison

The love for Saison is cyclical — or seasonal, more like it. At least, its origins might’ve seen it that way. Saison was traditionally brewed late in the year and kept cold, conditioning for some time into the new year. It comes from Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium.

Did you know? Saison is French for season.

There is no exact date to pin on the first ever Saison brewed, but original beers in this style emphasized regional characteristics, often including an open fermentation that encapsulated the Wallonian region’s pastoral flavors and aromas. These beers can include a multitude of tastes, but each is traced back to Southern Belgium.

Originally, this farmhouse ale was brewed during the winter months for farmers to then drink at the turn of the season. After all, there wasn’t much farm work to be done during cold months. First beers in this style were likely low in ABV, designed to be more refreshing than intoxicating.

Popular commercial Saisons

Here are a few commercial Saison examples for you to try:

  • Boulevard Tank 7 American-style Saison with fruit and spice aroma and flavor. 
  • Goose Island Sofie Farmhouse Ale – Low ABV Saison with citrus, vanilla, and spice flavors.
  • Saison Dupont – Balanced Saison with light fruitiness and dry finish with additional grainy and floral notes.
  • Ommegang Hennepin – Balanced fruity and floral notes brewed with ginger root and sweet orange peel.

Popular Saison recipe kits (all-grain or extract)

Belgian Saison Beer - All Grain or Extract Brewing Kit (5 Gallons)

Fruity/spicy notes combined with a dry finish and a somewhat high hop bill than one would expect, these beers were perfect for a hot Summer day in the fields. Our Saison beer kit brings the flavor of the old world to the backyards and picnics of today.

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How to brew a Saison

Now that we’ve covered the basics of the style and where it came from, let’s go into detail on how to make a Saison. I will go step-by-step and guide you through the brewing process including choosing ingredients and how they’re used during the brew day.

The time it takes to brew a Saison depends on your patience; the style benefits from a bottle conditioning period, which can take several weeks to finish. The entire process can take anywhere from 2-10 weeks depending on yeast strains and how long you’re willing to let the beer sit.

I recommend reading through all the requirements and the process before getting started.

Recipe and ingredients

Before you can start brewing a pale ale you will need to collect the proper ingredients.

You'll need water, base grains, specialty grains, and any other additions, hops, and yeast to brew a Saison.

The Saison maintains staple characteristics but with room for experimentation. I’ll address the basic requirements of the following standard ingredients:

  • Water profile
  • Base grains
  • Specialty grains or other additions
  • Hops
  • Yeast

Below are some tips and guidelines to get you started. Once you’ve mastered the style, feel free to make it your own!

Water profile

A good water profile provides a great foundation for your beer no matter the style. It’s a good idea to start with the most convenient water source (RO, distilled, or tap). From there, adjust the water to be either hard or soft depending on your desired outcome.

Traditional Saisons brewed with Wallonian water had high levels of bicarbonate and sulfate, elevating dryness and complementing hop flavor, aroma, and bitterness.

In general, however, quality water produces quality beer.

Base grains

Saisons get their defining characteristics from a culmination of ingredients. Base grains provide the foundation for other additions to shine.

Pilsner malt is the typical base grain for a Saison. American, Belgian, and German Pilsner malts provide a moderate grain base with room for other flavors to come through. The highly modified two-row spring barley offers a neutral base for yeast and hop additions to take over.

The Pilsner malt will take up around 70% of the grain bill with other light malts rounding out the grist. Specialty malts are used sparingly in this style and make up a small portion of the grain.

Other potential grain options include:

  • American Two-Row – Another good choice for a balanced malt character
  • Pale Ale Malt – For a stronger malt taste that isn’t overwhelming

Specialty grains or other additions

Specialty grains and other ingredients add a layer of complexity to the Saison.

Saisons typically keep the malt profile low. Most of the flavor and aroma come from the yeast used and sometimes hops. However, specialty grains add the right amount of sweetness to balance these other characteristics. Vienna and Caramel malts are often used for added maltiness. They also can darken the color and provide body and bitterness.

These specialty grains are used in small amounts in Saisons. With neutral base grains like Pilsner and American Two-Row, you aren’t targeting a potent malt profile. Vienna malt adds light sweetness and a fuller body with a golden color. Various Caramel Malts, like Caramel Munich, add bready and toasty notes for greater depth. 

Other grains and additional ingredients include:

  • White Wheat Malt – For added body and greater head retention
  • Coriander – For additional spice notes
  • Sweet Orange Peel – For additional citrus notes


Hops play a role in the flavor and aroma of all beer styles.

Saisons use hops tastefully in a way where their flavors accent other characteristics typically brought on by yeast. They benefit from a more neutral hop with some spicy, earth, and herbal notes – like a Noble hop. Halleratu, Styrian Golding, Saaz, and East Kent Golding hops are all great options.

Hops are used for bittering, flavor, and aroma. It’s vital that you choose hops that go well together. Conflicting hop flavors can ruin a beer, so be careful which ones you use together.

Bittering hops don’t impart much flavor, so feel free to use any variation on that front.


Bittering hops are used to add bitterness to beer. They’re added at the beginning of the boil allowing ample time for isomerization to occur. At the same time, the aromas of these hops are boiled away with mostly just bitterness remaining.

Some good bittering hops for Saisons include Hallertau Taurus, Styrian Gold, and Magnum.

NamePurposeAlpha Acid %
Hallertau TaurusBittering + Aroma12-18%
Styrian GoldBittering + Aroma3.5-6.5%
MagnumBittering 12-14%
Table showing the best bittering hops for brewing a Saison.

Bittering hops don’t add much flavor or aroma to beer so it’s best to choose ones that have a high alpha acid content, maximizing bittering efficiency during brewing. You can use these hops solely based on their alpha-acid content.

Aroma and flavor

Aroma and flavor hops are used for exactly that – aroma and flavor attributes.

Aroma and flavor hops are added late in the boil, past the halfway mark. The longer they’re in the boil, the less flavor and aroma they give the beer. Saisons benefit from small hop additions late in the boil where earthy and spicy hop aromas can make their way in.

Some of the best hops for adding aroma and flavor to your Saison homebrew include Saaz, East Kent Golding, Styrian Golding, Hallertauer Mittelfrüher, and Fuggle.

NameFlavor/AromaAlpha Acid %
East Kent GoldingLavender, spice, honey5-6%
Styrian GoldingResinous, peppery3-6%
Hallertauer MittelfrüherFloral, spicy3.5%
FuggleWoody, earthy2-6%
Table showing the best hops for adding flavor and aroma when brewing a Saison.

As I mentioned earlier, try to use hops that complement each other. Not all flavor and aroma hops pair well together and the wrong combinations can create conflicting flavors.

In styles where hops take a backseat, it’s common to use one strain of hop so the flavor is manageable. Note that all hops give off at least some bitterness despite when they’re added to the boil.


Yeast is the driving force behind all beer. It’s also considered the most important ingredient for brewing a Saison, especially traditional versions.

A good Saison yeast strain has low-medium flocculation, high attenuation for a dry taste, and a high fermentation temperature range. These yeasts typically impart fruity and spicy esters to the beer. Wild yeasts are sometimes used in Saisons.

This style is heavily dependent on yeast strains. These beers are often bottle-conditioned leading to heightened yeast flavor.


Here are a few good dry yeast strains for brewing a Saison.

NameAttenuationFlocculationTemperature Range
LalBrew Belle Saison86-94%Low68-95°F
SafAle BE-134 Belgian Saison89-93%Low64-82°F
M29 French Saison85-90%Medium79-90°F
Table showing the best dry yeast strains for brewing a Saison.

Here are a few good liquid yeast strains for brewing a Saison.

NameAttenuationFlocculationTemperature Range
WLP565 Belgian Saison65-75%Medium68-85°F
Wyeast 3711 French Saison77-83%Low65-77°F
OYL-027 Belgian Saison I76-80%Low70-95°F
Table showing the best liquid yeast strains for brewing a Saison.

Brewing process

After you picked out your ingredients and sanitized your equipment, you’re ready to start brewing the beer.

The process for brewing a Saison has several distinct steps:

  1. Mashing
  2. Boil
  3. Whirlpool or flameout

Firstly, decide on the type of mash you will use: single-step or infusion. Consider the perfect mashing temperature, water quantities, hopping schedule, and if you need an additional fermenter.

Once you’ve planned out the brewing process, the rest is a breeze. The brew day will be standard and, even if this is your first time brewing beer, it will be straightforward.  After the mash-in, it’s time to sparge.

Once you collect enough wort, it’s on to the boil where you’ll add hops and any other additions your recipe calls for. After that, it’s time to cool the wort, pitch the yeast and wait.

Despite having such an off-the-wall profile, Saisons are fairly straightforward to brew.


The mashing process for Saisons is relatively simple, with the temperature and duration playing important roles.

A single-infusion mash is sufficient for a Saison. Mash for 60 minutes between 150-153°F for a balanced beer.

I recommend mashing at 151°F for a drier beer. This temperature creates plenty of fermentable sugars for your yeast to convert into alcohol. Higher temperatures work well, too, as most Saison yeast strains have high attenuation.


Boil times can range from 60-90 minutes. In most cases, 60 minutes is fine.

Saisons often use Pilsner Malt, which can require a longer boil time to reduce any DMS off-flavors. Hop additions are made during the boil – bitter hops should be added at the beginning, and flavor and aroma hops should be added toward the end.

The longer hops are in the boil, the more bitterness they give the beer. Common hop addition times include 60 minutes, 30, 20, and 10 minutes remaining.

Whirlpool or flameout

Hops added late in the boil retain their aromatic qualities for longer, adding greater depth to beers.

Some beers benefit from a more potent hop flavor and aroma from hops added as soon as the boil is done. When the boil time is up, whirlpool or flameout hop additions add their full aroma to the beer.

These hops will add little to no bitterness.


Saisons undergo a standard fermentation process. Recipes that call for open fermentation require non-standard procedures – instead of closing off the fermenter with an airlock, you leave it open.

All beers benefit from a consistent fermentation temperature. Saison yeasts generally take 1-2 weeks to ferment with additional periods for bottle-conditioning.

Primary fermentation is sufficient for a Saison, but secondary fermentation can be utilized for an extra crisp beer.


Fermentation temperatures are contingent on the type of yeast used.

Saison fermentation temperatures are some of the highest in brewing. With requirements in the high 80s and into the 90s (Fahrenheit), it can be tricky to achieve such warm temperatures. Try using additional machinery or products to maintain a temperature in the 85-90°F range.

It’s best practice to keep fermentation temperatures consistent throughout the entire process.

Bottling or kegging

This is one of those beer styles where the packaging method makes a difference.

Saisons benefit from – or, some argue, require – a bottle conditioning phase that’s only achievable through bottling. Kegging this beer style takes away from the desired carbonation levels and added bottle-conditioned flavors and aromas.

If you’re brewing a Saison, a conditioning period of at least two weeks is highly recommended.

Saison recipes

Here are three all-grain homebrew recipes for Saisons, each brewing a five-gallon batch.

  • Classic Saison
  • Mike’s Best Saison
  • Martin Keen’s Saison

Classic Saison

This classic Saison, originally posted on Craft Beer and Brewing, is a perfect starting point if you’ve never brewed a beer of this style.

Once you’ve mastered the base style, you can begin experimenting with hops, flavors, and other additions.


  • Pilsner malt – 8 lb
  • Vienna malt – 1 lb
  • Wheat malt – 8 oz
  • Caramunich malt – 2 oz 
  • Fuggle hops – 1 oz 
  • Styrian Goldings hops – 1 oz
  • Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saison


  1. Set up all-grain brewing equipment.
  2. Heat 3.5 gallons of water to 150°F.
  3. Slowly add the malts to the heated water in the mash. Stir while adding.
  4. Mash at 150°F for 60 minutes.
  5. After the mash, recirculate the wort until the runoff is mostly clear.
  6. Sparge with 170°F water for 45-60 minutes. Collect 6-7 gallons for the boil.
  7. Begin the 75-minute boil. 
  8. At 30 minutes left on the boil, add 1 oz of Fuggle hops.
  9. At 10 minutes left on the boil, add 1 oz of Styrian Goldings hops.
  10. After the boil, whirlpool for 10 minutes.
  11. Cool the wort to pitching temperatures.
  12. Pitch yeast.
  13. Ferment at 69°F for 6 days.
  14. After 6 days, increase the temperature to 72°F and ferment for 4 more days.
  15. Bottle or keg as desired.
  16. Carbonate your beer.
    1. If bottling, prime your beer for bottle conditioning. Carbonation can take 2 weeks.
    2. If kegging, force carbonate.
  17. Once carbonation is done, enjoy your beer!

Mike’s Best Saison

This recipe switches out the wheat and Caramunich malts in the classic Saison for the CaraPils malt and replaces the classic hops with a variety of less-traditional choices. This recipe recommends using a classic Saison yeast. The citrus flavor of this brew will really stand out due to the addition of orange peel and coriander.


  • Belgian Pilsner malt – 12 lbs 
  • CaraPils malt – 0.9 lb
  • Vienna malt – 1.5 lbs
  • German Perle hops – 1.3 oz
  • English Kent Goldings hops – 1 oz
  • Czech Saaz hops – 0.5 oz
  • Crushed coriander – 1 tsp
  • Crushed sweet orange peel – 1 tsp
  • Your yeast strain.
    • Suggested: White Labs WLP565 Belgian Saison or Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saison


  1. Set up all-grain brewing equipment.
  2. Heat 3.8 gallons of water to 152°F.
  3. Slowly add the malts to the heated water in the mash tun. Stir while adding.
  4. Mash at 152°F for 60 minutes.
  5. After the mash, recirculate the wort until the runoff is mostly clear.
  6. Sparge with 170°F water for 45-60 minutes. Collect 6-7 gallons for the boil.
  7. Begin the 90-minute boil. 
  8. At 60 minutes left on the boil, add 1.3 oz of Perle hops.
  9. At 10 minutes left on the boil, add 0.75 oz of English Kent Goldings hops.
  10. At 5 minutes left on the boil, add the coriander and sweet orange peel.
  11. With 0 minutes left on the boil, add 0.25 oz of English Kent Goldings hops and 0.5 oz of Czech Saaz hops.
  12. Cool the wort to pitching temperatures for chosen strain.
  13. Pitch yeast and aerate thoroughly.
  14. Ferment at 75°F for 3 weeks.
  15. After 3 weeks, ferment in secondary for another 3 weeks.
  16. Bottle or keg as desired.
  17. Carbonate your beer.
    1. If bottling, prime your beer for bottle conditioning. Carbonation can take 2 weeks.
    2. If kegging, force carbonate.
  18. Enjoy your beer once the carbonation is finished.

Martin Keen’s Saison

In June 2019, Martin Keen challenged himself to brew all 99 beers style recognized by the BJCP in 99 weeks. Over the course of more than 2 years, he brewed everything from an American Light Lager to an Irish Stout. All of his recipes, processes, and results from all 99 beers are available on his YouTube channel, but today we’re interested in his Saison.

Screenshot from Martin Keen's YouTube video detailing his experience brewing a Saison.
Screenshot from Martin Keen’s YouTube video detailing his experience brewing a Saison.

Martin’s Saison mixes it up a little with the malt choices but stands out due to his use of corn sugar. While he doesn’t address the addition, corn sugar is typically used as a priming agent to increase the carbonation in bottle-conditioned beer; presumably, he added it to the recipe to dry out the beer and increase the carbonation.


  • American Pilsner malt – 7 lbs
  • Munich Malt Type I – 2 lb
  • White Wheat Malt – 1 lb 
  • Corn sugar (Dextrose) – 0.5 lbs
  • Stryian Goldings – 2 oz
  • Wyeast3724 Belgian Saison


  1. Set up all-grain brewing equipment.
  2. Heat 2.75 gallons of water to 152°F.
  3. Slowly add the 2-Row and Crystal malts to the heated water in the mash/lauter tun. Stir while adding.
  4. Mash at 152°F for 60 minutes.
  5. After the mash, recirculate the wort until the runoff is mostly clear.
  6. Sparge with 170°F water for 45-60 minutes. Collect 6-7 gallons for the boil.
  7. Begin the 60-minute boil. Add the 1 oz of Stryian Goldings hops.
  8. At 10 minutes left on the boil, add 1 oz of Stryian Goldings.
  9. At 0 minutes left on the boil, add the corn sugar.
  10. Cool the wort to pitching temperatures.
  11. Pitch yeast.
  12. Ferment at 90°F for at least one week.
  13. Allow one week for settling.
  14. Bottle or keg as desired.
  15. Carbonate your beer.
    1. If bottling, prime your beer for bottle conditioning. Carbonation can take 2 weeks.
    2. If kegging, force carbonate.
  16. Carbonation is the last step – enjoy your beer!

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