Here's a light and refreshing summer sipper.
Ever since reading an article about saison-style ales in the June "Bon Appetit" magazine, I’ve had a serious hankering for the rustic beers. In the article, the author refers to saison as the “Gatorade of the 1800s” and declares the brews to be the perfect summertime refreshment.
The enticing descriptions don’t stop there: “easy-drinking, crisp, and relatively low in alcohol”, “doesn’t skimp on flavor” and “a picnic in a bottle”. Is my craving beginning to make sense?
Saison is French for “season,” and is the name given to the unfiltered and lightly boozy ales brewed by farmers in the Wallonia region of Belgium. Each farmer/brewer would make his own style of beer using whatever grains and ingredients were readily available – thus the wide diversity in flavor and style of saisons. Once summer set in, it was time to unleash the brews!
Here are a few farmhouse ales worth seeking out:
Saison Dupont: One of the classics – easy to find and very drinkable on a hot day. This beer hails from one of Europe’s last farmhouse breweries and has hints of lemon, cloves, a touch of caramel and a dry and clean finish.
Stillwater Artisanal Cellar Door: Stillwater Artisanal is a gypsy brewing project founded by Brian Strumke, a former DJ from Baltimore, and Brooklyn importer Brian Ewing. The ale is an American made saison, brewed with white sage and hints of coriander and candied orange.
Starr Hill All Access Saison: This crisp, deep golden saison is brewed in Crozet, Va., and was released in May of this year. A bit more hop than the Saison Dupont but definitely a delightful summer option.