Checking thousands of beer types with an interesting flavor is complex. You have to unpack loads of information and beer profiles to know which suits your taste. Saison beer should be your next drink to know about.
Saison beer has become the standard-bearer of the Belgian beer style because of its unique flavor. It has been known to be a “dying” seasonal beer, but it has gained worldwide recognition and has now been enjoyed year-round by beer enthusiasts and even casual drinkers.
What is a Saison?
Saison beer has a light amber to gold color based on how much roasted the malt is, making its SRM 5 to 7. It is known for its dry finish and delightful flavor and aroma. The most notable characteristic of the Saison style is its surprising spiciness, supreme dryness, and earthy, fruity character.
The Saison beer has a 20 to 35 IBU, meaning it has a mild-to-pronounce hops presence. It commonly has a hop aroma with a slight bitterness, making it a great palate cleanser.
|ABV||5% – 8%|
|IBU||20 IBUs – 35 IBUs|
|SRM||5 SRMs – 14 SRMs|
|Color||Pale yellow – Deep gold, with a slight haze|
|Aroma||Fruity, Spicy, Earthy, Pepper, and Citrus|
|Serving Temperature||45°F – 55°F (7°C – 13°C)|
Saison beer has a wide range of alcohol content. You can find low alcohol content of 3.5% ABV to high alcohol content that goes up to 9.5% ABV. Its content strength is divided into three categories: table strength, standard strength, and super strength.
- Table strength is a low ABV Saison beers that only starts at 3.5% ABV and tops out at around 5% ABV.
- Standard strength is the most common, with an ABV between 5% and 7%. Most of the Saison beer you can find in the market falls around this range.
- Last but not least, the super strength category has the strongest ABV content for Saison beers. It tops all the way to 9.5%.
This is the basic profile of a Saison beer. You can find several Saison beer bottles in the market, each of which offers a unique taste and aroma. As some brewers continually expand, some brands have already proven excellency in their style.
Saison Brands to Try
The number of Saison beers in the market is quite overwhelming, and it confuses you about which one to try first. These brands are an excellent introduction to Saison beers.
Saison Dupont Vieille Provision
Saison Dupont Vieille Provision is the premier Saison beer. It is a first-class Belgian Saison that is originally brewed at Brasserie Dupont. The well-balanced consistency and taste of tart, herb, and spice make it the perfect choice to understand Saison beer.
Boulevard Brewing Tank 7
Another brand to try is the Boulevard Brewing Tank 7. It has a hoppy and moderately citrus characteristic. Casual drinkers love the Tank 7 of Boulevard Brewing Co, and if you are fond of India Pale Ale, then you will love this Saison beer style.
Three Brewing Wandering Bine
If you have GERD problems, this mild Saison beer of Three Brewing Wandering Bine is your best pick. Its ABV level is comparatively low among other Saison beers and has a more smooth mouthfeel and sweet notes.
Besides these three mentioned brands, you should try these:
- Brasserie Dupont Avril
- Funkwerks Saison
- Prairie Ale
- Saison Dupont Vieille Provision
- Goose Island Sofie
Check these drinks and feel them around your palate.
Do you know the origin of Saison beers? It was introduced as farmhouse ales for summer beers in Belgium. They are originally brewed for farmers to quench their thirst in the warm months. But, from warm-weather treats, the American craft brewers made their turn and have taken Saison beer as a hallmark drink.
Origin of Saison Beer
While “Saison” is a French word for season, the beer’s origin dates way back before the 1950s. The brew from the 18th century is believed to have had a taste similar to current Belgian Saison beers. You cannot notice any significant change.
Saison beers were originally brewed on small farms in Wallonia, Belgium. It was purposely brewed over winter, so it becomes ready to drink over the summer. Hence, its name Saison or season.
The hoppy characteristic of Saison beers was to preserve the drink, but it also enhanced the flavor.
How is Saison Beer Made?
Brewing a Saison beer takes a unique approach and uses more ingredients to achieve its spicy character with earthy and fruity notes. Ingredients that make a Saison beer include Saison ale, yeast, hops, fermentable, spices, and herbs.
The most common spices in a Saison beer include coriander, ginger, orange peel (bitter or sweet), and cardamom. You do not want to add too many hops, yeast, and spice to your drink. Instead, use light malt to have the best taste and color for your Saison beer. You can follow the classic recipe for saison beer and come up with your distinct Saison style.
Styles of Saison Beer
With the history of Saison beer, there are two styles: the one that is brewed in Belgium and the one crafted by the Americans. Let’s see what made the two styles different.
Among the sea of Saison beers, there is no consistency among the brewers, which is expected, because each has a distinctive style. The Saison Dupont Vieille Provision defines the distinctive style of the Belgian Saison.
Most Saison beers are based on pilsner malt, with additional ingredients of herbs, spices, fruits, and honey, to give it a more hoppy characteristic. There are Belgian Saison beers that are dry-hopped with ale yeast to give more complex flavors and often enhanced with Lactobacillus or sour mash to add some acidity.
Although Saison beers originated from Belgian, Americans have ultimately redefined its style. Saison beers gave American brewers more freedom to style and interpret beer differently.
Some brewers experiment endlessly with their Saison beers, and they offer them to casual drinkers. Although Belgian and American Saison share almost the same characteristics, there are a few distinct characteristics that make them unique from each other.
How to Serve Saison
Like almost all beers, it is best served between 45 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit and in a tulip-shaped glass, which could be similar to a stemmed or tall pint.
Saison beer has residual yeast that produces cloud or foam. If you do not want a cloudy beer, tilt the glass at an angle, pour the beer slowly, and stop before the bottle is empty. This will have a clearer beer in the glass. Meanwhile, if you prefer to have a cloudy bear, pour all the beer into the bottle completely, and it will include all the remaining yeast.
Serving your Saison beer this way helps accentuate its citrus aroma and spiciness. Check the best foods to pair with your glass to complete your drink.
Best Food Pairings for Saison Beer
Although Saison beer is heeded complex, it complements well with several food varieties. Its aroma and flavor can complement well with full-flavored dishes and enhance the taste of simple ones such as soft cheeses and sausage. The only exemption to the possible food pairings of Saison beer is those with delicate flavors.
The fruity and spicy notes of Saison beer bring the best to a simple barbecue meal. Meanwhile, the peppery notes enhance the flavor of any hot meal. You can also pair Saison beer with your favorite meal or snack. Who knows, it could be a game-changer?
It is undeniable that Saison beers are not for everyone, but their farmhouse charm and complex characteristics should not be missed! Check the beers mentioned and give your taste buds an experience you surely will not forget.
Difference Between Saison Beer and Farmhouse Ale?
Before, a debate has sparked about the difference between a saison beer and a farmhouse ale. Beer experts claim that saison is a style of a European farmhouse ale, and the farmhouse ale is a catch-all term for any beer brewed locally and purports the same reason why Saison beers were brewed.
Beers that claim to be farmhouse ale have to be associated with a farm with local agriculture. The term describes beers specifically made with ingredients grown and harvested by the brewery.
If the brewery cannot grow the ingredients, they must source them locally. Moreover, what’s important in farmhouse beers is they aim to serve their community first.
If you are looking for a farmhouse ale to drink on a sunny day, Saison beer is one of the best picks. After all, it was originally made for farmers to drink during the summer.
When you taste Saison beer, you will be impressed with its fruity, earthy, and spicy profile; and how it goes well with your favorite dishes or snacks. Check out the wide range of brands of Saison beer, and you will be impressed by how each of them is great.
Sandra B. King is a wife and mother of two. The marketing genius is also a beer enthusiast. Even though she doesn’t brew beers, she can whip up a mean content marketing strategy.