Late Spring and Summertime is the Season for Saisons
The late spring and summertime months are the perfect time to crack open a Saison, a refreshing Belgian style farmhouse ale with crisp fruity and spicy flavors. The special yeast used to produce these beers is what really makes them special. The yeast adds spicy and fruity notes, along with characteristic Belgian aromas and flavors. Saisons are typically medium-bodied but very refreshing due to a high carbonation level producing an effervescent body. They generally range in color from pale orange to deep amber, but there are also darker versions, going all the way up to black in color.
Saison are one of the best beer styles for pairing with foods. They can pair great at an outdoor BBQ of grilled meats on a hot day, or a with an evening meal of roasted fowl and summer vegetables.
We have several fantastic Saisons to talk about, so let’s dive right in.
As seen in the top photo, Saison Dupont, which is brewed in Belgium, is the gold standard for the style. The beer pours a nice vibrant orange color with a dense white head. It has aromas of spice, fruit, and Belgian yeast. Medium-bodied and effervescent, with a creamy mouthfeel, and a crisp and a dry finish. Very refreshing, at 6.5% abv.
The Bruery brews two excellent Saisons. Their year-round Saison, Saison Rue, comes in at 8.5% abv., with nice notes of spice and fruit. In the Spring, they release Saison De Lente, which is a lower alcohol Saison, at 6.5% abv, but packed with flavor. Both versions are very nice examples of they style and worth seeking out.
The Lost Abbey offers a great year-round Saison called Red Barn Ale. The beer is crisp and effervescent, and spiced with ginger, orange peel, black pepper, and grains of paradise. The malt bill includes flaked oats, for a creamy mouthfeel – similar to Saison Dupont. The beer is at 6.7% abv., with a dry finish that has a hint of tartness in it. In the Spring they release, Carnevale, a Saison with an American hop twist, brewed with Simcoe and Amarillo hops, and dry hopped for added hop character.
Night Shift Brewing, a small artisanal brewery located in the Boston area, produces a couple interesting and flavorful Saisons. Rose, is a seasonal Saison release, which is brewed with rosehips, rosemary, honey, and pink peppercorns. The beer is fairly strong, coming in at 8-9% alcohol, but crisp and refreshing. Honeydew is a brand new Spring 2013 release for the brewery, is brewed with juice from fresh Honeydew melons. The melon adds a nice refreshing flavor to the beer.
Jester King, out of Austin, Texas, offers a couple different Saisons. Their Das Wunderkind is citrusy and tart, with a fairly low alccohol level of 4.5%. The beer is fermented with wild yeast and a lactobacillus fermentation to add sourness. They also offer a pecan wood smoked saison, brewed with pecan-smoked organic pilsner malt. The beer has complex smoky and sour flavors, and is a bit stronger, at 6.7% abv.
There are also some interesting hybrid Saison beers offered by craft brewers. Surly offer their CynicAle, which is hybrid of a Saison and Belgian Pale Ale. The beer has notes of honey and black pepper. Depp Ellum Brewing out of Dallas, offers their Farmhouse Wit, a hybrid of a Saison and Wit. The beer is crisp and refreshing with notes of light spice, citrus, and wheat.
If you’ve yet to experience a Saison, these are all great beers to try. There are also many more wonderful examples of the style to explore. View Ratings for All Saisons