Rhubarb Saison

The rhubarb saison was the combination of 2 things I very much love. Rhubarb takes me back to my grandma’s table, where early summer meant strawberry rhubarb jello. I later was introduced to rhubarb sauce, which is essentially rhubarb and sugar cooked down. Served over ice cream, it introduced me to rhubarb without strawberries.

The rhubarb and saison combination

I of course wanted to add rhubarb to my homebrew, but it took me awhile to figure out what would make an ideal base style. (This was before What to Brew made that easy.) I settled on a saison, as it was one of my favorite styles, and I thought it would be a good base.

According to What to Brew data, this wouldn’t necessarily be a good combination- it’s currently only ranked at 45%. However, I found it to be a good base. The fruitiness of the yeast worked in the same way that strawberry does, adding a balance to the tartness without being overly sweet. Saisons can also have a lactic dimension, which the rhubarb adds.

Preparing the rhubarb

I found a gardener with more rhubarb than he could use, and took what I thought would be plenty. It turned out to be about 3.5 pounds.

Here was my process to add it to the saison-

  1. Clean stalks, making sure to remove any leaves
  2. Shred using a food processor to get it into a nice pulp
  3. Add sugar to the rhubarb
  4. Let sit to allow as much of the juice to come out
  5. Strain off the juice
  6. Add the juice to the fermentor as initial fermentation slows down

My goal was a nice dry saison, which is why I opted to add more sugar with the rhubarb.

The result

The rhubarb saison turned out quite well. It was refreshing and tart, and well balanced. The rhubarb was perhaps a bit more subtle than I’d like – I’d likely increase the amount of rhubarb I add in the future. Wine lovers who were convinced they didn’t like beer were impressed by this beer, and it went very quickly.

Rhubarb Saison recipe

Size: 5.5 gal @ 68 °F
Efficiency: 70.0%
Attenuation: 80.0%
Calories: 222.15 kcal per 12.0 fl oz

Original Gravity: 1.067 (1.048 – 1.065)
Terminal Gravity: 1.013 (1.002 – 1.012)
Color: 5.56 (5.0 – 14.0)
Alcohol: 7.05% (5.0% – 7.0%)
Bitterness: 26.0 (20.0 – 35.0)

7.0 lb (65.9%) CBW® Pilsen Light Liquid (Malt Extract) – added during boil
.75 lb (7.1%) Wheat Malt – added during mash
.75 lb (7.1%) Munich Malt – added during mash
2 oz (1.2%) Belgian Caramunich – added during mash
2.0 lb (18.8%) White Table Sugar (Sucrose) – steeped after boil
1.7 oz (85.0%) Hallertau (4.5%) – added during boil, boiled 60 m
.3 oz (15.0%) Hallertau (4.5%) – added during boil
1.0 ea BrewTek CL-380 Saison
3.5 lb rhubarb

After primary fermentation slows, grind up rhubarb in a food processor, and add half a pound of the sugar, and let sit. Strain off the juice, and add to the fermenter with the rest of the sugar.

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