Of all the beer styles brewed toady, few are open to as much interpretation as the saison. Saisons are highly carbonated and refreshing pale ales that were originally brewed by Belgian farmers in order to entice seasonal farmhands or “saisonniers” to sign on for summer work. Yeast plays a big role in their flavor profile and while most are brewed with strains that produce highly aromatic and spicy flavors, some also incorporate wild yeast strains such as Brettanomyces which can impart some earthy funk. So raise a toast to this classic style with one of these refreshing favorites on #NationalSaisonDay!
Not only do many consider this THE example of the style, some have gone so far as to call it the best beer in the world. One thing is for sure, if you haven’t had the pleasure of tasting this tremendous saison, it is a must try. Brewer, chef and author Garret Oliver likes to refer to Saison Dupont as the “Swiss-army knife” of beer and food pairing. Spicy, earthy, hoppy and effervescent, this compliments nearly any cuisine.
Ommegang has been producing world class Belgian style ales in Cooperstown New York since 1997. One of their best is Hennepin, a spicy interpretation of the saison style which incorporates orange peel, coriander, ginger and grains of paradise. If you’re a fan of sushi, Hennepin makes for an excellent partner.
Like Ommegang, Allagash is another award winning East Coast brewery famous for their extensive portfolio of Belgian-inspired ales. Their Saison is a relatively new offering and an excellent modern interpretation of the style. The addition of oats makes for a nice creamy mouthfeel yet it finishes quite dry making it a nice palate cleanser.
Goose Island’s Sofie is a light and zesty farmhouse ale with orange peel and Amarillo hops providing a bright citrusy finish. As good as Sofie is fresh, with age it becomes something really special. With time yeast left in the bottle dries it out and eventually it drinks like a fine campaign.
With Belgian-born brewmaster Steven Pauwels at the helm, Boulevard puts out some world class Belgian inspired ales. Tank 7 is earthy and spicy like a classic Belgian saison, but healthy additions of Citra and Amarillo hops make for a fruity tropical finish reminiscent of a fresh American Pale Ale.
A local Chicago favorite, Apex Predator is herbaceous and lemony on the nose with a smooth creamy mouthfeel. Like many other saisons this brew is extremely food friendly. Its peppery finish and citrus notes play especially well with seafood and salad courses.
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