Beer 101: What is a Saison?

By | September 13, 2014 at 9:35 am | No comments | Beer, Drink | Tags: , , , , ,

With an upcoming trip to Denver for the 2014 Great American Beer festival on the horizon for our staff, we’ve been doing some beefing up on our beer knowledge.  A couple of weeks ago we did a Beer 101 on IPA’s.  Now it’s time to focus on one of our personal favorite styles of beer, the Saison.  Saison beers, often referred to as Farmhouse Ales and historically are brewed in the cooler months to be enjoyed during the summer time.

As noted by BeerAdvocate, this is a very complex style; many are very fruity in the aroma and flavor. Look for earthy yeast tones, mild to moderate tartness. Lots of spice and with a medium bitterness. They tend to be semi-dry with many only having touch of sweetness.  Not long ago this Belgian style of beer saw a slump in popularity and it was on the verge of becoming an endangered style of beer, but over the last 5-7 years Saison’s have made a roaring comeback to become one of the most popular styles of beer on the market today.

Here in Kansas City we are fortunate to have access to a couple of locally brewed Saisons that are among some of the best in the country.  Boulevard Brewery’s Tank 7 and special release Saison-Bret are wonderful examples of this style of beer.

Boulevard Saison Brett

According to Phil Markowski, author of Farmhouse Ales this style of beer is composed in the following ways.  The type of malt determines the colour of the saison, and although most saisons are of a cloudy golden colour as result of the grist being mostly pale and/or pilsner malt, the use of darker malts results in some saisons being reddish-amber. Some recipes also use wheat. Spices such as orange zest, coriander, and ginger may be used. Some spice character may come through due to the production of esters during fermentation at warm temperatures.

If you want to explore the world of saison’s and farmhouse ales, here are a few that can be found at your local liquor store and are excellent examples of the style:

– Saison Dupont (Voted Best Beer in the world in 2005)

– Boulevard Tank 7

– Fantome Saison

– Stillwater Artisanal Ales – Stateside Saison

– Brewery Ommegang – Hennepin

– North Coast – La Merle Saison

– Perennial Artisan Ales – Saison de Lis

– Odell Brewing Co – Celastrina Saison

 

If you are one who has already dove headfirst into the world of saisons and farmhouse ales, please share some of your favorites with us.  We are always on the hunt for new and exciting ones to sample.

 

For more information on Saisons, you can read some articles and posts here:

All About Beer Magazine: Saison – Flavors of the Countryside

RealBeer.com – Farmhouse Ales: What and Why

Farmhouse Beer – Rustic Meets Exquisite

 

 

 

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