Club Posts

Saison Beer Style and Baking with Spent Grain Explained

Presented by Brübakes IV

If you’re here with us at Brübakes IV today, we thank you for attending and for your interest in learning more about the foundations of our event!

Saison Beer History

The early history of Bière de Saison (beer of season) is fuzzy because documentary evidence is scarce until the late 19th century. Since the beer originated from the farmlands, urban writers didn’t pay much attention to it and farm brewers didn’t keep many records.

The current understanding is that the style dates back to at least the 18th century in the French-speaking Belgian region of Wallonia (also known as the Walloon Region). It was primarily imbibed by the farmers and seasonal workers (saisonniers) during and after they toiled in fields during the warmer months.

The brewing of saisons served multiple purposes:

  1. The beer was brewed during the winter months when the fields were idle.
  2. It would be ready in time as a refreshment for the workers in the fields during the warmer months.
  3. The spent grain would be used as livestock feed.

The ingredients in the beer would probably vary from farm to farm and year to year based on what was available and often including herbs and spices. Additionally, the mixed strains of yeast were likely shared and swapped among farmers/brewers, depending on what worked best.

Since the original saisons were designed to be “laid down” for some months, it is thought they were highly hopped and had an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 7% or higher to help with preservation. Then when it was time to be consumed, the beer was either diluted or blended to a lower ABV before being consumed. It probably would not be prudent to provide farmhands a strong beer when they are expected to be productive in the fields and wield sharp tools. Additionally, the tax system of the time favored lower-strength beers.

A map of the Walloon Region within Belgium and within Europe
A map of the Walloon Region within Belgium and within Europe

Saison Style Characteristics and Recipe Formulation

The saison style is fairly open to interpretation and can have a range of characteristics. Some recipes may include herbs and spices, or dry-hopping additions for flavor and aroma. Darker versions of the style will have more malt characteristics. Meanwhile funkier versions exhibit mild sourness and tartness.


The aroma of the saison style should be fruity and spicy. Typically a saison yeast strain will produce phenolic (spicy), fruity, and earthy notes when fermented at 80-90°F. Spicy notes will be typical of black pepper, and not clove. Common fruity notes are citrus, pome, and stone fruit.


Saisons are typically pale gold to deep amber in color. They should have a long lasting, dense, ivory head.


Saison flavors are a balance of fruity and spicy yeast, hoppy bitterness, and grainy malt with moderate to high bitterness and a dry finish. Due to the high attenuation of the yeast strain, saisons do not have a sweet or heavy finish. A bitter, spicy aftertaste is noted.


Saisons are light to medium-low bodied with very high carbonation.

Recipe formulation

  • Base malt - 2 row, pilsner, munich
  • Cereal grains - wheat, oats
  • Hops - noble, styrian, east kent golding (earthy, spicy, black pepper, fruity)
  • Optional sugary adjuncts - belgian candi sugar, honey, etc
  • Yeast - spicy-fruity belgian saison yeast

Common style misconception

Which is it? Saison, or Farmhouse Ale, or both?

As the name suggests, Farmhouse ales have their humble origin from homegrowing grain-to-glass on the family farm. However in the modern market, the name has become a descriptor for a beer with characteristics and flavors that mirror the types of beers historically brewed on these farms in France and Belgium, sometimes using traditional methods.

Today, Saison and Farmhouse are often used interchangeably when describing a beer, as they are now brewed all over the world in and out of the farm. In a historical context, all Saisons are Farmhouse ales, but not all Farmhouse ales are Saisons.

Farmhouse is a larger umbrella category that includes many other types of regionally brewed beers, including:

  • Saison (strong, pale beer from Wallonia region of Belgium)
  • Bière De Garde (“beer for keeping”, Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France)
  • Bière de Mars (low alcohol last runnings of lambic wort, Belgium)
  • Grisette (low alcohol subset of Saison, brewed for local miners)
  • Sahti (Finish origin raw ale with juniper branches and baker’s yeast)
  • Gotlandsdricka (viking era beer from island of Gotland, Sweden, smokey)
  • Keptinis (baked, raw ale from north-eastern Lithuania)

Some of these styles can share similar characteristics, but with each differentiating themselves from their neighbors with certain key flavors, mouthfeel, origin, and brewing methods evolving into their own regional styles. Some are funky, some are sweet, some are smokey, some are effervescent, some are tart, some aren’t even boiled. The list goes on. Understanding what makes a Saison a Saison can easily set them apart from their fellow Farmhouse ales.

Hof ten Dormaal Winter 13
Hof ten Dormaal Winter 13

Baking With Spent Grain

What is spent grain exactly?

Spent grain is the byproduct of brewing that contains barley grain husks and insoluble residues such as wheat or maize. It may be a beer product, but it is actually healthy due to the presence of fiber and protein in every grain. We also can’t forget the low carbohydrate count spent grain possesses.

Fiber is essential for lowering sugar levels, monitoring total calories, and maintaining proper body weight.

Take a look at some diseases fiber can combat:

  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Take a look at some of the benefits that proteins offer:
  • Burns calories and fat faster
  • Boosts muscle mass and overall strength
  • Improves appetite and decreases hunger levels
  • Regulates proper weight loss

Spent grain has LITTLE TO NO CARBS at all. A low carbohydrate diet can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the possibility of having cardiovascular diseases.

Proper storage of your spent grain is key!

You must make sure your grains are 100 percent DRY if they will be stored. You may achieve this by either storing in the freezer immediately which will remove the moisture. Alternatively, you can use a dehydrator or an oven at a very low temperature for 7-8 hours. If you would like to use your fresh spent grains “wet” in a recipe, you must account for the extra moisture.

Now you can process your grains into spent grain flour. Grind your grains into flour using a blender or a grain mill attachment to a stand-up mixer. Store in an airtight container. Something to note - this is not a one-to-one comparison with regular flour. It will be a smaller component of the recipe.

What can I do with my grains?

You could add the grains to your recipe directly, or you could mill them. Below are examples of how they can be used.

  • Spent Grain Flour
  • Spent Grain Banana Bread
  • Spent Grain Sourdough
  • Spent Grain Pretzels
  • Spent Grain Pie Crust
  • Spent Grain Pizza Dough
  • Spent Grain Granola
  • Spent Grain Granola Bars
  • Spent Grain Crackers
  • Spent Grain Muffins
  • Spent Grain Cookies
  • Spent Grain Pancakes
  • Spent Grain Dog Treats
  • Spent Grain for Chickens
  • Spent Grain Horse Treats
  • Spent Grain Compost
Spent grain
Spent grain
Handful of dried spent grain from a distillery, 2017
Handful of dried spent grain from a distillery, 2017

April Meeting Moved to the 16th

This month's BaltiBrew meeting has been moved back one week to Sunday, April 16th.

March Minutes

March 12th @ Union

Brübakes IV

  • Brübakes is coming up on Sunday, April 23rd, 2023 at the Duckpin Room in Union. Judges are lined up from Dangerously Delicious, Checkerspot Brewing, and BaltiBrew. 11 teams are slated to compete. If you are interested in helping out or if you have an in for a prize donation please reach out to Max or the board. We are capping attendees at 80 as the bakers needs a maximum number to plan for. Tickets are available at There will be one more general membership meeting before the event.

Pints for Paws

  • AHBC is doing PINTS 4 PAWS again this year. It will be on June 10th 2023. They are looking for more homebrewers for this event. AHBC has reached out to coordinate with BaltiBrew this year so it would be a great opportunity to show our support for their club. This year the event will be larger, and they are raising the number of tickets from 500 to 750. Last year they raised over $28,000 for the SPCA of Anne Arundel County. Tickets are available at


  • Camp Mashout is back for 2023. This is a 4-day outdoor celebration of the homebrewing hobby held, this year, in Cumberland, MD. This year the event will run from August 18th-21st. For a schedule of events or to get tickets visit BaltiBrew members interested in attending can coordinate on campsite/transportation with Jon.

Guild notes


  • The BaltiBrew website could use a refresh. Anyone with design or web skills can reach out to the board to help.

Ed Topic

Iron Brewer

  • Iron Brewer Tea will be held at the March meeting. The two reigning Iron Brewers have decided that this is not a beer specific challenge. Any fermented beverage with tea in it is fair game!

Homebrew Swap!

Brübakes IV

Brübakes is returning again this spring! Join us on Sunday, April 23rd 2-4 PM at the Duckpin Room at Union Craft Brewing for a competition that pairs homebrewers and bakers to celebrate spring, sustainable brewing practices and the DIY spirit!

Attendee tickets are available at

Competition Overview

  • Brewers must design a Belgian-style Saison ale to be served with a baked good. The catch? Bakers are required to use spent grain from the brewers' mash (at least 5-10% by weight) to create their counterpart.
  • Those who are up for the challenge may act as both brewer and baker.
  • Competitors need to bring at least 5 gallons of homebrew and about 120 baked good samples (Expecting about 60-80 attendees).
  • Recommend freezing your spent grain after brew day.
  • Baltibrew will provide ice. Dump buckets and water pitchers will be available.

Attendee Overview

  • Must be 21+ years old to attend.
  • All you can sample homebrew and baked goods.
  • Ticket includes a Baltibrew Brübakes Belgian-style sample glass.
  • Ticket proceeds will be used to fund future Baltibrew events, gatherings, and charitable donations throughout the year.


  • Best Brew by Judge vote
  • Best Baked Good by Judge vote
  • Best Pairing by Judge vote
  • Best Overall Favorite by popular Attendee vote

Location & Time

  • Duckpin Room @ Union Craft Brewing (1700 West 41st Street, Baltimore, MD 21211)
  • Sunday, April 23rd, 2023 - Competition runs from 2-4 PM.

February Minutes

February 12, 2023 @ Union

Sensory Tasting Panel (Part 2 of 2)

  • This month we finished the second half of the Seibel's barrel aged compound tasting panel by sampling the following flavors/aromas:
    • Almond
    • Exotic
    • Woody
    • Smoky
    • Whiskey

Iron Brewer Cider

  • We had seven entries for Iron Brewer Cider! There was a tie between Jude's Aged Cider from 2019 and Dan's fermented cider from this year's buy from Weber's farm! The two of them decided jointly that the next Iron Brewer will be Iron Brewer Tea (black, green, herbal, etc). They have also decided that this does not need to be a beer based Iron Brewer. Other beverages (such as kombucha) are welcome. We typically allow at least two months so folks can plan and execute their ferementations, so we will decide next month whether to judge Iron Brewer Tea at the April or May meetings. Congrats to Jude and Dan!

Ed Topic Stipends Reminder

  • To encourage engagement, BaltiBrew is offering a stipend for members that would like to experience and report back! The specifics are still to be worked out, but the idea is that if a member has an idea on an experiment to run, the club would reimburse for the cost of materials (up to $40 or so dollars) on the stipulation that regardless of how the experiment turns out, that an ed topic would be presented by the brewer. If you've been on the fence about diving into a novel technique, ingredient, or side-by-side brew this is an opportunity to dive in with support from the club. Ping the listserve or the board and let us know what you're considering!

BruBakes IV!

  • BruBakes is returning on Sunday, April 23rd! Our competitor roster is almost filled out. Now it is time to promote the event. Max brought fliers for anyone who knows of businesses that are willing to promote the event. We are also soliciting for the prize pool. BruBakes is a homebrew & baked good competition. Contestants brew a saison and make a baked good with a portion of the spent grain (at least 5% by weight of the baked good must be spent grain). This is a fundraiser for the club and we normally treat it as a club showcase, with most of the contestants being BalitBrewers. Contestant tickets are free, attendees will be 20 dollars. It's a smaller, low key event (we normally shoot for 60-100 attendees). Tickets are available at Please spread the word!

Upcoming Events

  • While BaltiBrew hosts several events each year there are a number of other events in the state that it would be great to make a presence at as a club.
  • MASHOUT is returning again in 2023 from August 17th through the 20th. It is a 4-day outdoor celebration of the homebrewing hobby and is attended by a large number of brewers and fermentationist from around the area. The MASHOUT website and more information is available at Jon, Jude, and several others are very interested in attending this year and seeking to find other BaltiBrewers to have a presence.
  • The Annapolis Homebrew Club has directly reached out to us to try to organize some intra-club events. We have extended the invitation to BruBakes in April. One of their marquee events is the Pints 4 Paws Homebrew and Craft Beer Festival. It's been held on June 10th this year and several members are interested in competing/attending. 
  • We will publicize other events as they are announced this year.

Home Brew Swap!

  • Our next meeting will be Sunday, March 12th at Union (to be confirmed)! Cheers!