From SBN contributor Chris Clemetson.
In a continuing attempt to highlight beer styles by season, it is only appropriate that we spotlight the Beer Judge Certificate Program (BJCP) style 16C Saison, one of the original seasonally brewed beers (Saison is French for season after all). Saisons were originally brewed in winter for summer consumption on the farms of Southern Belgium after a long day of harvesting. The style is interesting because it is defined by how the beer is brewed rather than always sharing common aromas and taste characteristics, although most examples are refreshing and traditionally lower in alcohol, .
What the BJCP style guide says:
“Combination of fruity and spicy flavors supported by a soft malt character, a low to moderate alcohol presence and tart sourness. Herb and spice additions often reflect the indigenous varieties available at the brewery. High carbonation helps bring out the many flavors and to increase the perception of a dry finish..”
Thoughts on the Style:
At first, saison was a confusing style to me in that one example was so different from another. It was a new concept to me that the style was created for practical purposes (stand up to the heat of summer storage and refresh the drinker) as opposed to goals defined by appearance, taste, and aroma. No two saisons are exactly alike, but what you want is a good beer to enjoy on a hot day when you can have a couple of them and not have to go home and take a nap (just like those farmers back in the day). Although some breweries now produce them all year, around Seattle it is a true seasonal beer and finding local examples on tap is always a welcome sign of summer. Enjoy these beers for their true seasonality and embrace each one for its diversity that defines the style.
Local examples of the style:
Elysian Saison Elysee
Big Time Saison Grisette
Examples that can be found is Seattle include:
Goose Island Sofie
Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale
Lost Abbey Red Barn
Upright #4, #5, #7 – if you can find them
Do you know of any other local saisons, or have other favorites available here in Seattle? We’d love to hear about them, so leave a comment.