- Robyn Bursey
Saison (French for “season”) is a category of beer all on its own, and not a new one at that!
Saisons classify as an ale in terms of brewing method - they are warm-fermented with top-fermenting yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae if ya wanna get really technical), and as far as anyone knows, originally hail from a Francophone area of Belgium called Wallonia.
Traditionally (read: prior to modern refrigeration), saisons were brewed like most beers at the time: between November and March, when the outdoor temperature was cool enough that the beer would not spoil in production and could be cool-stored for consumption in the warmer months. The story goes that saisons, otherwise known as “farmhouse ales”, were brewed in the area’s rural farmhouses during the winter so the farm hands and labourers had something to keep them refreshed during the long, hot summer months of work.
Today, now that the brewer is no longer confined by nature’s ambient temperature, we are blessed with saisons lining the fluorescently-lit coolers and tap systems of our favourite beer-providers all year long. The offerings range from imperial takes on the style: big, boozy, and packed with spicy, grainy flavours; to light, fresh “table beer” versions that are bright and zesty, incredibly dry and taste of fresh lemon oil and cracked black pepper. There are even totally different takes on the style, like saison noir: brewed with dark, roasted malts, or saisons inoculated with wild yeasts like Brettanomyces, resulting in tart, funky flavours.
With all the creativity on today’s craft beer boom, one thing is for sure; whether fresh or funky, bold or toasty, saisons are here to stay!
Stop by either location to peruse our selection of saisons and to get acquainted with the style.