Eight Great Saison Beers

With temperatures inching north, now is the time to ditch dark stouts and reach for a refreshing saison. Brewed in winter to be drunk in summer (originally by seasonal workers in French-speaking Belgium), tart and spicy saisons are ideal warm-weather thirst quenchers.
saison beer

1. The Bruery: Saison de Lente

Since opening his Belgian-influenced brewery in 2007 in Orange County, California, Patrick Rue—the rue in Bruery—has won accolades for his eclectic flavor profiles, inspired by everything from sweet potato pie to Thai food. For his spring Saison de Lente, Rue leans on the wild yeast Brettanomyces. The resulting rustic, barnyard jolt offsets the blonde saison’s floral hoppiness, while its initial sweetness gives way to a peppery kicker. (thebruery.com)

2. Jolly Pumpkin: Bam Bière

Jolly Pumpkin’s veteran brewmaster Ron Jeffries excels at crafting complex artisanal ales, like the superb Bam Bière, in aged wooden barrels. The unfiltered saison (or farmhouse ale) pours hazy gold and is crowned by a creamy foam poof. The funky, fruity aroma relents to a tangy sourness, while the serious carbonation provides a pleasing tingle. The relatively low 4.5 percent ABV means you can safely drink two or three glasses without losing your head. (jollypumpkin.com)

3. Brasserie Dupont: Saison Dupont

Operating since 1844, this Belgian brewery sits on an old farm and has set the gold standard for saisons. Brewmaster Marc Rosier uses the farm’s spring water and proprietary yeast strains to make Saison Dupont. The brew pours a vibrant lemon-honey hue, with champagne-like carbonation and the scent of cloves and pears. Take a sip of the dry concoction, and semi-tart apples segue into bananas. Then comes a gentle hop hit that ably masks the 6.5 percent ABV of this outstanding beer. (brasserie-dupont.com)

4. Nøgne Ø: Saison

Nøgne Ø is at the forefront of Norway’s microbrew renaissance. By mixing maverick, West Coast techniques with classic Norwegian ingredients (sea wormwood, heather-flower honey, juniper twigs), brewmaster Kjetil Jikiun is forging a new Scandinavian brewing identity. But Jikiun is also faithful to classic styles, thus the saison. The summertime refresher combines a musty earthiness with lemon, orange, and apricot flavors that lead to a lingering, grassy finish. (nogne-o.com)

5. The Lost Abbey: Red Barn Ale

Southern California’s Lost Abbey takes it cues from Belgian brewing traditions, crafting bold dark ales, sweetly potent triples and quadruples, and this stellar saison. Spiced with organic ginger, orange peels, and black pepper, Red Barn is a cloudy, carrot-tinged beauty. It’s perfumed with a tropical fragrance of mangoes and pineapples and has a dry, thirst-quenching taste just as appealing as a lazy summer afternoon. (lostabbey.com)

6. Boulevard Brewing Company: Saison

Though largely known for its wheat beer, this Kansas City microbrewery has made waves with its Smokestack Series by focusing on strapping beers, such as the brawny Double Wide IPA, Trappist-style Sixth Glass, and refreshing Saison. Head brewer Steven Pauwels has created a heavenly floral flavor explosion: A herbal grassiness gives way to lemon and coriander, while Brettanomyces provides a lurking current of pungent funk. (blvdbeer.com)

7. Brasserie Fantôme: Saison Fantôme

Located in Belgium’s southeastern French-speaking-region of Wallonia (where saison was first produced), this tiny brewery has attracted a cult following thanks to its subversive use of herbs and spices. Fantôme’s flagship is its saison, which has a vivid citrus fragrance tempered by sweet malt and barnyard essence. The flavor is like a chameleon. Cold, it’s as snappy, bracing, and fruity as champagne; when warm, the flavors become fuller and more pronounced, coating the palate. Beware the 8 percent ABV, though: the Fantôme goes down easy. (fantome.be)

8. Southampton Ales & Lagers: Saison Deluxe

This long-running Long Island establishment produces spot-on versions of overseas styles such as altbiers and Belgian whites, as well as a hoppy English-American IPA hybrid. But Southampton’s creativity shines brightest with its 750 series, featuring a great Grand Cru, powerful abbey ale, and its complex saison. The Saison Deluxe pours pale golden with a dense head and has tropical notes of pineapple and passion fruit. The taste is smooth and wheat-laced, with a delicately fruity earthiness. (southamptonbrewery.com)

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