Editorial Dept.'s picture

Saison

Saison Style Defined

Saison Style Defined

Saison is a standard-bearer in terms of Belgian beer, and it's one of the most popular and flavorful styles that can be found widely around the world. This mildly spicy brew features a wide range of flavors and aromas due to its engaging Belgian yeast character.

Saison Beer Characteristics

Saisons are known for their high attenuation, dry finish and delightful flavors and aromas of citrus fruits (lemon, orange) and a slightly spicy, floral, earthy fruity hop character. The most notable characteristic of the Saison style is its dry finish due to extremely high attenuation – a Saison should never finish sweet. Flavor-wise, Saisons are often striking thanks to their prominent Belgian yeast character as well as the peppery spice character from the hops.

 

 

Saison Beer Types

One of the most interesting aspects of this style is that it can range in color from amber to deep copper based on how much roasted malt is present. Furthermore, the Saison style runs the gamut of alcohol content due to the three separate strata that the beer can be divided into. First is "table strength," which is a low-ABV, highly quaffable Saison with ABV topping out around 5 percent.

Next is the "standard strength" Saison, which is the most common version with an ABV between 5 and 7 percent; most Saisons found around the world will fall into the "standard" category. Last (but definitely not least in terms of ABV) is "super strength" Saison, which is the strongest by far, ascending all the way to 9.5% ABV in its strongest examples.

 


Saison Beer Style Attributes

Saison Beer Style Attributes

SRM (?) : 5 – 14 (pale), 15 – 22 (dark)
IBUs (?): 20 – 35
ABV (?): 3.5% – 5.0% (table strength), 5.0% – 7.0% (standard strength), 7.0% – 9.5% (super strength)

Color: Varies, pale amber to dark copper
Clarity: Varies, haze is not uncommon in this unfiltered style
Carbonation: Dense, long-lasting, rocky head from strong effervescence

Alcohol: Varies, mild to strong
Hops: Spicy hop character
Malt: Pilsner, Munich, Malted Wheat


How to Serve Saison

Proper Glass (?): Tulip
Serving Temperature: 45-55 °F

Saisons are meant to be poured into a standard tulip glass to help accentuate the redolent spicy and citrusy aromas before beginning to sip.

Due to the high carbonation found within the style, Saisons must be poured at an angle, with the bottle inside of the glass and very slowly. Be sure to rinse the glass and wipe clean before pouring. Follow these tips for a perfect pour:

1. While 45 degrees is commonly quoted as the correct angle to hold your glass when pouring this style, an even more acute angle (sometime nearly horizontal) serves this style better.

2. Make sure that the neck of the bottle is inside of the glass, and then begin pouring slowly. Pouring too quickly will result in a foamy mess due to the style's high carbonation.

3. Pull the bottle out once you've filled the glass up two-thirds of the way, then begin pouring again but faster this time to create a nice head of foam.

4 (optional based on personal taste). The yeast (which provides some of this style's piquant flavor) will be at the bottom of the bottle, so before finishing the pour, leave a finger's worth of beer in the bottle, swirl it around to agitate the yeast, and then complete the pour to ensure you get that precious resource into your glass.

5. Sit back and enjoy!

Saison pour from Blackberry Farm Brewery


Saison Food Pairings

Saisons are an impressively versatile beer when pairing with food.

First off, this style serves as an excellent accompaniment to brunch (if you're in the mood for a late-morning, early-afternoon beer pick-me-up). Rich cheese curds and over-easy eggs with avocado toast provide a rich, buttery backdrop for the peppery and slightly citrusy beer to cut right through.

Perhaps the best pairing for this style is with a tender, roasted chicken. The crisp, dry, peppery Saison will once again cut through the rich, fatty nature of the chicken and leave you salivating for more. A hearty sausage pizza also provides that rich, fatty base for the peppery, complex Saison style.

Lastly, a strong Pad Thai goes beautifully with this style, as the complex and wide range of flavors found within this peanut-topped dish contrast with the dry and snappy character of a Saison.

Saison Paired with Pizza


Saison Best Brands

These well-known and widely available brands are the highest-rated Saisons that have been evaluated in The Beer Connoisseur's Official Review.

We recommend seeking out these exemplars of the Saison style.

Sorachi Ace Saison by Brooklyn Brewery
Sorachi Ace

Brooklyn Brewery
Rated 98 (World Class)


Saison DuPont by Brasserie DuPont

Saison DuPont
Brasserie DuPont
Rated 96 (World Class)


Classic Saison by Blackberry Farm Brewery

Classic Saison
Blackberry Farm Brewery
Rated 96 (World Class)


Hennepin Saison by Brewery Ommegang

Hennepin
Brewery Ommegang
Rated 96 (World Class)


Judging Criteria for Saison

The Beer Connoisseur’s Official Review is conducted in a single-blind format that adheres to the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP).

The BJCP criteria for reviewing Saison is as follows.

Style Family - Strong Belgian Ale, Category 25

  • Category 25A. Belgian Blond Ale
  • Category 25B. Saison
  • Category 25C. Belgian Golden Strong Ale

Download the BJCP 2015 Style Guidelines (PDF) for a full description of this style.


Popular Saison Brands

There are numerous brewers across the globe that produce Saison, therefore it should not be difficult to find this beer style at your local retail store or on tap at your favorite brewery.

Here are a few examples of popular Saison brands:


Related Articles

The Difference Between Saison and Farmhouse Ale

The Difference Between Saison and Farmhouse Ale


Unibroue Announces Second Collaboration with Megadeth: Saison 13
Unibroue Announces Second Collaboration with Megadeth: Saison 13


Brasserie de Bastogne Head Brewer and Director Philippe Minne Talks Bastogne Ardenne Saison
Brasserie de Bastogne Head Brewer and Director Philippe Minne Talks Bastogne Ardenne Saison