One of the reasons that we love Belgian and German style beers here at Wanderlust is because of the amazing and unique flavors that these beers have. The diversity of yeast-derived flavors that can be imparted, and the way you can manipulate those flavors give us quite the pallet of flavors.
That’s why I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting yeast strains that may be available to us, and I try to jump on the opportunity when it presents itself. I’ve established a great relationship with a little yeast bank in New Jersey called East Coast Yeast with this goal in mind. They’ve provided some yeast for us in the past, and most recently got us a blend of souring bacteria for our barrel program.
Al, who runs the place, is a like-minded individual who loves to experiment and has a passion for finding obscure or unique strains of yeast and bacteria. As a homebrewer I used some of his sour blends as well as some of his brewing strains as well.
One of my favorites that I got from him when I homebrewed was what he calls the ‘single strain saison’ yeast. This is a unique strain of saison yeast that has some really nice subtle spiciness and complex fruity esters. It really reminds me of a slightly more subdued Saison Dupont-style yeast.
I noticed that he was building up a batch of this yeast a couple months ago, and I was doing some brainstorming at the time as to what our next seasonal after the Vermillion would be. The stars aligned, and I was able to secure a pitch of ECY14 from Al.
I put together a series of recipes meant to experiment with and highlight this yeast. We will be brewing 4 beers with this yeast over the next couple months, all of them a slightly different take on the Saison theme. The first of them will be available at the taproom this thursday and out around town starting on friday, and is called “Tramontane”.
This beer is a dark saison, utilizing some roasted, de-bittered wheat malt (Midnight Wheat). This gives the beer a subtle roasted flavor, but is very smooth and not harsh or astringent. The beer pours with a nice fluffy white head from all the wheat malt we use in it, and has a subtle aroma of cloves, cinnamon, and a hint of dark dried fruit. The mouthfeel is very light, and the dark malts bring out some of the spice of the saison yeast. There is very little hop aroma or flavor, as the slight fruitiness comes from the yeast esters, and helps to complement the dark dry, grainy wheat flavors.
We called this beer Tramontane, which is the classical name for a wind that comes from the north. It’s derived from two latin words meaning “across the mountains”. The next 3 beers in this series of saisons will follow our way around the compass rose and be named after the east, south, and west winds. Come by the taproom this thursday and have a glass of Tramontane. We will be happy to fill up a 32oz growler for you as well.
And keep your eyes out for “Levante”, “Ostro”, and “Ponente” as we work our way through this series of saisons.