Saisons are sometimes called “farmhouse ales” because farmers in the French-speaking part of northern Belgium make them from left-over grains. Then, they let the beer age over the winter so they can drink it in the summer.
Still, one of the best things about saison is that the style isn’t too hard to figure out. So, brewers might try to make beers that have more hops by looking at beers like Bitter from De Ranke. Or, they could take inspiration from the lambic brewers of Belgium to make a more complex and wild version of the style.
What is Saison Beer?
Saison is an ale style of beer that originated in southern Belgium. Also called “farmhouse ale,” it’s a rustic beer that, unlike other styles, is open to the brewer’s interpretation. Saisons often use wild, top-fermenting yeast and various local ingredients, including various grains. Refreshing and moderate in alcohol, these brews can range from light to dark, taste malty or hoppy, and are often noted for fruity or spicy characteristics, as well as a low bitterness. Artisanal breweries in Belgium continue to specialize in Saison, a popular style among American craft brewers.
What does Saison Taste Like?
A Saison smells fruity and spicy, with a hint of pepper and earth. Saisons are made with wild, top-fermenting yeast and local ingredients like grains. They have a refreshing taste, and you can tell they have moderate alcohol in them. But Saisons can be anything from light to dark, fruity to spicy, and hoppy to malty. So, you have a lot of options to choose from.
Saisons can be yellow, black, or almost white, depending on what they are made of. You’ll see that some of them are strong and some are not. Some of the flavors in a Saison may have a twist from fruit, wild yeast, or spices that were added. But if you try some modern Saisons, you’ll see they all have some things in common. The most common reason is that they are very carbonated and have a bitter taste, making them great for cleaning the palate. That must be pretty nice, but this beer will ruin your expectations if you eat too little.
Saisons are usually made with wild yeast that ferments at the top and various local ingredients, such as grains. These beers are refreshing and have a moderate amount of alcohol, and they can be light or dark, taste malty or hoppy, and are often known for being fruity or spicy and not being too bitter.
What is the Difference Between Saison and Session Beer?
Even though the words seem to be the same, saison and session beers are not the same thing. Saison is a beer style made in Belgium, and “session” beers can be made in any style. A session beer, also called a “lawnmower” beer, usually has no more than 4% or 5% alcohol by volume (ABV), so you can drink a few without getting too drunk. Most of the time, they have a light body, are very refreshing, and are easy to drink.
Saison means “season” in French. The style was born in the French-speaking area around Wallonia, Belgium. It was first made in the winter so farm workers could eat it all summer and until harvest. Most of these seasonal beers have a rustic taste because they were first made as farmhouse ales, which were different from one brewer to the next and used whatever ingredients were on hand. Saisons used to be low-alcohol beers that you could drink all day. Many have between 6 and 8 percent alcohol by volume (ABV).
Saison has a lot going on in it. The pilsner malt gives the beer a soft malt flavour that goes well with the spicy and fruity flavors from the yeast and other ingredients. Even though the hop is noticeable, it is not too strong. Acidic sourness, high carbonation, and a distinctly dry finish make for a very satisfying and complex beer.
What are the Types of Saison Beer?
Many people who know about beer think that Saison is just one type of farmhouse ale. In the “farmhouse” family, they would also include beers like France’s Bière de Garde that are made by hand in a rustic way. In the United States, Saison is often a synonym for a farmhouse ale, and this may be because Saison is the most well-known European farmhouse style.
- Saison: Europe
- Farmhouse Ale: United States
Before the 1980s, Saison beer was often called a “dying style.” Small breweries in southern Belgium have always made it, but the craft brewing scene in the U.S. helped bring it back to life worldwide. It used only to be made during the summer, but now it’s a beer that’s made and enjoyed all year long.
As with many Belgian styles, you can put almost anything you want into a season, and different brewers are not expected to make it the same way. People often say Saison Dupont Vieille Provision is the beer that best shows off this unique style.
Most Saisons are made with pilsner malt and other ingredients like herbs, honey, fruits, and spices. The style has more hops than other Belgian styles, and noble, Styrian, or East Kent Goldings hops are often used. It can also be hopped with dry hops. It is made with ale yeast, which adds a lot of flavours. This is often made better with a sour mash or Lactobacillus, which gives the beer an acidic taste.
Belgian beer styles are numerous and diverse. Belgium makes hard-to-classify beers that are mostly ales and has more native beer styles than any other country. Overall, beer lovers like Belgian beers because they have a light body, aren’t too bitter, and have a yeasty taste that often has spicy or fruity notes. Belgian beers include pale, golden, and dark ales, Trappist ales like dubbel and tripel, and fruity and sour beers like lambics and Flanders ales. They have been brewed for hundreds of years and go well with food.
How to Serve Belgian Beer?
Even though there are many different kinds of Belgian beer, there are some general rules for serving it. Between 40 and 50 degrees, Fahrenheit in the cellar is the best place for them. A glass with a stem and a bowl that is a little bit rounded is best so that the aroma can be fully appreciated. wheat beer and Belgian blonde and pale ales, both in the Flanders style, are often poured into a tulip glass. Goblets are often used to serve dark ales, dubbels, tripels, and quads.
Since these ales can be very yeasty, it’s often best to “decant” the beer before pouring. Pour very slowly—even more slowly than usual—to keep the sediment in the bottle and keep it from getting stirred up. Some drinkers like a little yeast in their glass; when it is almost full, they add the amount they want.
The Saison style gives craft brewers a lot of freedom. They do it in many different ways, like using wild yeasts that work well in the local climate or old or unusual tools with rustic charm. Some people even say that saison is less of a “style” and more of a “philosophy” that gives the brewer a lot of freedom to try different things. This gives beer drinkers a wide range of well-made ales to try. Even though most are like Belgian Saisons, there is always something new to learn.
How to Serve Saison?
Saison tastes best when it’s between 45 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit and is usually served in a tulip-shaped glass that brings out the interesting smells. The glass could have a stem or look like a tall pint.
Saison is a yeasty beer, and the yeast that is left over makes the beer cloudy. Some brewers and beer drinkers like pouring Saison in a way that doesn’t disturb the yeast layer, which makes the beer in the glass clearer. Pour slowly and stop pouring before the whole bottle is gone. If you like a cloudy beer, pour some or all of the remaining yeast into the beer.
Because saison is so complex, it’s easy to think that it might not be a good beer to pair with food, and it’s the opposite. Because a good Saison has so much going on in its smell and taste, it can go with almost any dish, except for the most delicate ones.
Saison’s fruity and spicy flavors can make a simple barbecue taste like something from heaven. The spicy and peppery notes will make any hot or peppery dish taste even better. Even simple foods like sausage and soft cheeses like brie can be changed. Saison goes well with shellfish and many kinds of seafood, especially mussels.
What are the Best Brands of Saison Beer?
There are exciting possibilities in every bottle of Saison. Even though the options change and grow all the time, some tried-and-true brands are great for getting started with the style.
- Blaugies La Moneuse
- Boulevard Brewing Tank 7
- Brasserie a Vapeur Saison de Pipaix
- Brasserie Dupont Avril
- Funkwerks Saison
- Goose Island Sofie
- Ommegang Hennepin
- Oxbow Farmhouse Pale Ale
- Prairie Ale
- Saison Dupont Vieille Provision
What are the Ingredients of a Saison?
You need a unique approach and ingredients to make a style as amazing as this. These parts are yeast, Saison ale, fermentable (wheat, pilsner, cane sugar, and Munich), Hops, and spices.
Like other beers, Saison’s main ingredient is yeast, but this yeast is peppery and spicy, with hints of fruit and earth. Ginger, coriander, sweet or bitter orange peel, cardamom, and grains of paradise are the spices that are most often used in a Saison beer.
If you like to ferment your beers, take it from us: you don’t want to put too much spice, hops, and yeast characters in your Saison drink. Instead, it would help if you thought about using light malt for the best taste and color. 10–20 percent Vienna malt or light Munich can be used.
Saison is a very well-made beer that any beer lover should try. It is refreshing, and you can’t go wrong putting it with your favorite food. You can choose from many different beer brands, and you’ll be surprised to find that they’re all great in their ways. Saison is the best choice for people who want a farmhouse ale and aren’t afraid to try a beer style called “barnyard funk.” Most beer drinkers recognize it because it has a unique flavor that can’t be denied, and this is likely due to the unique ingredients that make up the beer.