Last week we explored Katie’s favorite, Sour Ales, and this week is my favorite, Saisons. My personal preference with this style is dry, highly carbonated, with a bit of spice. I like to think of saisons as the champagne of beer (sorry High Life). Let’s take a closer look at what a saison is.
Saison is considered a Belgian farmhouse style ale, that was traditionally brewed in the cooler months for consumption during the summer. The Saison beer style is a loosely defined style. This beer originates from the French-speaking Wallonia region in Belgium. A complex style, fruity, dry, and with notes of spiciness, fruitiness, semi-sweet to tart. The yeast plays a big role in the flavor and dryness of this style. Hop bitterness is more pronounced in this style than in many other Belgian styles, and sometimes it is even dry-hopped. Many saisons are bottle conditioned, which means they are allowed to ferment within the bottle to produce carbonation. Saisons can be gold to copper, with an orange tint being considered traditional. There are also variations of the traditional such as saisons with the addition of fruits, black saisons, smoked saisons, and barrel aged. Saisons have seen a massive revival, especially in the US market. Saison Dupont is considered THE SAISON, if you want to know what a traditional saison tastes like, grab a bottle of Dupont.
My first beer was brewed by my talented husband, P. P has been perfecting and experimenting with his saison recipe for a number of years. When we first started dating, we tackled our first and only double brew day. It typically takes about 6-8 hours to brew a beer. That day I insisted that we go ahead and brew two beers in one day, instead of breaking everything down and doing it again the next day. Well, we finished our day around 2:00 am. The saison being the second beer we brewed that day. The only reason we were doing two beers that weekend was so they could be entered into a beer competition (btw it won a blue ribbon). Since I pushed for the saison to be brewed, it was named Mariah’s saison. This started the tradition of all our saisons being named Mariah. We’ve brewed Mariah’s Dark Side (a black saison), Mariah’s Rye Side (a rye saison), and Gallakinson, which was a combination of our two lasts names, but P said we should have named Mrs. Tomkinson (this was our wedding beer). Mariah’s Sunny Side, was named such, as it is the first saison brewed in “sunny” California. Since we do go for a drier saison, we usually get a slightly higher ABV, this come in at 8.3%.
Smell: Yeasty, hint of fruitiness and spiciness.
Taste: Clean with a slight sweetness/fruitiness at the end. Definitely get some notes of the yeast, resulting in black pepper and stone fruit like apricot and peach notes. Not my favorite of the Mariah series. P doesn’t make bad beer, but he has made better saisons before. I wish it had a bit more spiciness than the fruitiness.
This beer is honor of one of Stone’s brewers who passed away. Click the link above to read a bit more about the beer and the brewer. This is definitely a twist on your more straight forward saison recipe with the addition of smoke and it’s an imperial, meaning it has a higher ABV of 10.5%.
Smell: Very smoky, campfire like. I can’t pick up anything beyond the smoke smell.
Taste: Clean with a smoky finish, dry, not sweet. Given the strong aroma it is very well balanced and the smoke does not overwhelm the beer. Has quite a lot of bitterness at the end, to give it a cleaner finish with a hint of smoke.
What saison’s did you try this week? Link-up below!
Into The Pint Glass is continuing as a bi-weekly link-up. Here are the styles we will be trying next!