What makes a saison?
Saisons maybe one of the most enigmatic of beer styles. This complexed variety of beer with a distinctively Belgian rural character that has its origins in the Wallonian province of Hainaut in the southwest of Belgium. It was developed in the farmers’ brewing kettles since the 1700s, who produced the beer in winter in order to use it as fuel and hydration working the fields in the summer. It was also the only time when its cold enough for the beer not to spoil.
Nowadays, saisons are generally described as a remarkably dry, well hopped drink with aromatic yeast notes. Bottle conditioning is also typical, lending the beer a lively perlage. Blond to light orange with a cloudy shimmer, a saison typically exhibits fruity and earthy yeast aromas with hints of cloves or coriander.
But what really makes a saison? To us, it's the beers ability to reflect of terroir. Wallonian farmers used a selection of grains, herbs and hops that happened to their disposal and yeast culture that was propagated locally. The final product would reflect the ecological and cultural environment. Nowadays, brewers are approaching this style as an innovative field of experiment, sourcing local ingredients and most importantly, cultivating their own signature yeast culture for a distinctive taste. Expressive aromatic hop varietals are also used and adding brettanomyces cultures are common, yielding the much vaunted “barnyard flavor” to accent the beers dry structure.
At Blue Supreme, our saisons ranges across flavor profiles, some exhibiting prominent hop aromas; some exhibiting great depth from its nuanced earthy yeast notes. Saison D’Epeautre by Brasserie de Blaugies is a dry spelt saison with hints of coriander, pepper and musty cellar aromas. Very dry and light in body, with a hint of wheaty tartness and a hardy texture that expresses the character of spelt, a primitive strain of wheat.
Another example in Fantome Saison by Brasserie Fantome. Distinctively textural, and fizzy county ale, bright gold colour, citric and sour, reminiscent of a good champagne or lambic or beer.