Ask several seasoned beer drinkers about their favorite style and although you'll get a varied mix of responses, chances are pretty good that many of them will include saisons somewhere in their top 3.
What exactly is a saison? The word is French for "season" and the style is rooted to the farmhouses of Wallonia in southern Belgium dating way back into the 1700's. They were traditionally brewed in the cooler months and stored until the arrival of warmer weather, which ushered in the planting season as well as temporal farm workers (les saisoniers). Safe, drinkable (potable) water wasn't always available, so farmsteads brewed saisons to help quench the thirst of workers toiling away in the hot fields. Thus, the style is characterized by it's high carbonation, light body, low alcohol content and a dry finish.
True saisons are brewed with Belgium saison yeast from the Wallonia region, but the style is often more loosely interpreted. Many current saisons typically contain higher ABV than those of yore and brewers experiment with hop levels, tartness, fermentation methods, etc. Are farmhouse ales and saisons the same thing? Sometimes yes, but not always. Although they may have similar tastes and characteristics, a farmhouse ale technically needs to be produced using only ingredients grown on the brewer’s farm, which isn't always the case with many modern day saisons.
We've highlighted some of our favorite saisons and saison-ish beers currently in stock at Hop City. Give these a try the next time you're looking for something classically drinkable and refreshing!
Saison Dupont (6.5%) - It's seems only right to start with one of the most widely respected beers of the style, Saison Dupont. No explanation necessary. $18.99/12 oz 4-pack; Krog & Fayetteville
Blackberry Farm Classic (6.3%) - Brewed in Tennessee and associated with the James Beard award-winning restaurant and resort of the same name. Crisp, tart and a subtly spicy hop aroma. We sell a ton of this one. $12.99/12 oz 6-pack; Krog & West End
Moody Tongue Lemon Saison (6.3%) - Sorachi Ace hops and a double-steeped lemon process showcase just how good saisons can be. Lucky for you, this one also happens to be on draft currently at West End. $17.99/12 oz 6-pack; Krog & West End
Perennial Saison de Lis (5.0%) - Bright, dry and floral, Saison de Lis is brewed with chamomile flowers, which helps to smoothe out the fruity and slightly spicy notes imparted by the saison yeast strain. $14.99/16 oz 4-pack; Krog
Stillwater Extra Dry (4.2%) - An oft pointed to fave of multiple Hop City staffers, Stillwater Extra Dry is a sake-inspired take on the saison style. It's brewed with rice and contains notes of citrus and soft herbal hop character. Simple, super drinkable and super refreshing. $11.99/16 oz 4-pack; Krog & West End
Saison De la Senne (6.0%) - Funky, tart and a somewhat different take on saison with lambic features. Straight out of Brussels and aged in oak barrels. $7.99/12 oz; Krog
Allagash Wildlife Report (8.0%) - This one falls into the saison-ish bucket as it's technically a Biere de Garde. It's slightly sweeter, richer and higher in alcohol than a typical saison but still worth a shout out as it just landed on our shelves and we love pretty much everything from Allagash, especially when it's fresh. $13.99/16 oz 4-pack; Krog, West End & Fayetteville
Jackie-O's Cherry Livlihood (3.4%) - Jackie O's fermented cherries with their proprietary saison to deliver a tart, low ABV and highly crushable beer. $7.99/500mL; Krog, West End & Fayetteville
- Captain Lawrence: American Funk (8%)
- Hippin Hops: Baby Mama Drama (7.5%) - ATL LOCAL
- Hippin Hops: Dank Tank (6.8%) - ATL LOCAL
- Hippin Hops: One Hell of a Ale (7%) - ATL LOCAL
- El Segundo: Broken Skull Double IPA (8%)
- Old Nation: Low Orbit (4.5%)
- Anderson Valley: The Kimmie, The Yink, and The Holy Gose (4.2%)
- Anderson Valley: Summer Solstice (5%)
- Captain Lawrence: Orange Crusher (4.8%) - Krog only
- Captain Lawrence: Even Mo Tears (7.5%)
- Two Tides: Paper Cup Pils (5%) - Krog only