Saison, A Funky Farmhouse Ale for all Occasions

The Saison is the hottest craft beer trend

The Saison is the hottest new trend in craft beer. This golden ale is a refreshing style that’s light but still incredibly complex in flavor and aroma. This flavor profile creates perhaps the most versatile beer style around.

What exactly is a Saison Beer?

The Saison (French for “season”) originated in Belgium as beer originally brewed by farmers, for farmers. Also known as a farmhouse ale, these beers were traditionally brewed in the colder months by farmers and stored in their barns for consumption in the following summer.

Low in alcohol-by-volume and easy drinking, these refreshing ales were the original session beer. While the style floundered in popularity throughout history, Saisons have recently become en vogue again with the rediscovery of brewing with wild yeasts.

What makes Saisons so special?

While historically, Saisons aren’t glamorous, modern Saisons are a beefed-up version of the original, both in flavor and alcohol. Typically around 6-8% ABV, these new iterations on the classic are spicier, cloudier, and much more complex, primarily due to the use of wild yeasts such as Brettanomyces. This wild yeast is what imparts the musty, “wet straw” aromas and funky notes that make Saisons so complex, assertive, and desirable.

More recently, breweries have been toying with bacterial straoms such as Lactobacillus and Pediococcus to employ subtle tartness in their Saisons. The result is a light-bodied, highly-carbonated golden ale that’s funky, subtlely tart, and incredibly delicious.

And not only are they tasty, but they’re extremely agile when it comes to food pairings. The tartness lends itself well to any number of savory dishes while the spice notes compliment dessert well. A glass of champagne or mimosa is easily substituted for a glass of artfully crafted Saison for the perfect brunch companion.

Examples of stellar Saisons include:

● Fantome Saison, Brasserie Fantome, Soy, Belgium: Arguably the best Saison on the planet, this masterfully crafted farmhouse ale is everything a Saison should aspire to be.

● Apex Predator, Off Color Brewing, Chicago, Illinois: This modern take on the style is incredibly refreshing, tart, and playfully complex. The perfect lawnmower beer.

● Saison-Brett, Boulevard Brewing, Kansas City, MO: Spicy clove notes followed by the signature Brettanomyces funk makes this an exemplary choice if you’re looking for a classic, non-tart Saison.

● Surette Provision Saison, Crooked Stave, Denver, CO: A one-two punch of biting lemon tartness and strong musty funk make this ale an outstanding example of the modern tart Saison craze.

If you’ve not yet experienced a Saison, you are in for a pleasant surprise.

Allen Park is a passionate part-time writer (and full-time drinker) of craft beer. As a proud resident of San Diego, the beer capital of the world, you can often find him sharing bottles with friends and drinking world-class IPAs at Toronado. Visit his Untappd profile for a peek at his life in craft beer paradise.

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