So, what's a saison? | craft beer bar Hong Kong musing
Blue Supreme Hong Kong Craft Beer Bar Musings by Theodore Lai
Saisons maybe one of the most enigmatic of beer styles. This beer style with a distinctively Belgian rural character has its origins in the Wallonian province of French speaking Belgium and was developed in the farmers’ brewing kettles since the 1700s. After the harvest in the summer, farmers would take advantage of the cold weather to brew (its was the only time in year that was cold enough for the beer not to spoil), to use the beer as sustenance and hydration working the fields in the summer.
Nowadays, saisons are generally described as a remarkably dry, well balanced drink with aromatic yeast notes; bottle conditioning also lending the beer a lively carbonation. Blond to light orange and cloudy, a saison typically nuanced flavours from the yeast strains.
But what really makes a saison? To us, it's the beers ability to reflect a sense of place. Wallonian farmers historically 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 environment. Nowadays, brewers are approaching this style as a field of experiment, sourcing local ingredients and most importantly, cultivating their own signature yeast culture for a distinctive taste. Adding brettanomyces cultures are common, yielding the much vaunted “barnyard flavour” 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.