Reaping the Rewards of Saison

With the arrival of summer comes the perfect opportunity to savor the refreshing notes of a Saison, the most quintessential of seasonal beers. Its fruity, spicy, and fragrant aroma make it the go-to beer of choice for those warm weather days. And with every sip, you can just taste the romance- that feeling that comes with the sun and that makes you want to grab a hoe and volunteer at your local organic farm co-op. Welcome to Saison season and cheers to that!

Saison is a unique style of beer that is deeply embedded in the European brewing tradition. It's a beer with a complex history that is as varied as the land it hails from. Originally brewed as a sustenance ale to accommodate farmhands during the summer months, Saison has since become a cult classic style that symbolizes seasonal change and celebration. With every sip of Saison, you can just taste the romance. Kind of makes you want to grab a hoe and volunteer at your local organic farm co-op. But what makes Saison such a special beer? What sets it apart from other beers? Let’s delve into the world of Saison and get to the bottom of what makes this beer so unique.

Beer for One and All

What sets Saison apart from most beers is that it really caters to both average beer drinkers and connoisseurs alike. This is a beer that both novice drinkers and experienced connoisseurs can appreciate. Very few craft beers can facilitate a wide net of appeal. Usually, the beers that appeal to the most people are a bit stark and lack the depth and character that Saison provides.

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A Brief History

Saison, which translates to “season”, is historically known as “Farmhouse Ales”. This beer style has its origins in Belgium, specifically the French-speaking region of Wallonia. Historically, brewers in Belgium and northern France would make beer to satisfy the needs of farmhands as they worked during the hot summer months. By its nature, the Saison was brewed with a lower alcohol level to allow workers to stay hydrated and replenish much-needed calories. In addition to this, the addition of spices, herbs, and citrus was used to add a little pizzaz to the beer and create something with full-flavored complexity. This style of beer slowly gained traction across Europe, inspiring regional interpretations throughout Europe and finally the United States.

Saison as a Seasonal Beer

These days, Saison is most commonly known as a delicious seasonal beer. The style is brewed in nearly every corner of the globe, with each brewer adding their own unique interpretation to its production. While particular elements are subject to the interpretation of individual brewers, there are certain shared characteristics that most brewers’ adhere to.

  • A spicy yeast character is present, most often attributed to the traditional Saison strains of yeast
  • The malt bill is usually light, allowing the subtle spice of the yeast to be the star of the show
  • The beer is typically carbonated to a high level, giving the beer a creamy texture and a fullness of flavor
  • Most Saisons feature unique ingredients like fruits, spices, or herbs

Sub-Styles to Have Fun With

Like any other beer style, Saison exists in several variations that enable experimentation. Each variation of Saison offers its own hue and flavor, resonating with a different subset of drinkers. Here are some of the more popular variations of Saison that you should have fun with.

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Classic Saison

This is the "standard" of all Saison styles. Extremely drinkable and widely available. Expect a light maltiness, complimented with yeast-borne fruitiness, a strong spice and peppery character, and a dry, crisp finish.

Grissette

A lighter version of the classic Saison, Grissette has a lower alcohol profile and is often made with wheat or oats. It features a deliciously crisp, tart character with a light sweet finish and low bitterness.

French Saison

This style is a bit more aggressive and hop heavy than the classic Saison. Expect higher IBUs, a Dankness of tropical fruit and a slight bitterness, with a dry finish.

Wild Saison

These beers are fermented with wild yeast and bacteria, resulting in the sour character that is the sign of a good Saison. The fruity notes are tempered with a slight tartness, while some herby nuances tend to linger.

Tips to Make a Delicious Saison

Making a delicious Saison of your own is as simple as following these steps:

  1. Start
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