Though I don’t often, if ever actually, talk about saisons on here, I am a bit of a fan of them. I’m not even going to bother writing about the history of saisons, because Jeff Alworth of Beervana does an incredible job doing so here.
I will however include this snippet from Garrett Oliver’s Oxford Companion to Beer that describes the flavor profile of a saison:
Modern saisons defy easy categorization. They can be as contradictory as they are uniform. Most are light in color, a few are dark, and some are in between. A few are full bodied and sweet; many are extraordinarily dry and fruity. Those who like their beer styles neatly arranged in narrow categories will find attempting to pigeonhole saisons an exercise in frustration. To others, this elusive quality is precisely their allure, as they represent many possibilities within a loose structure. For many modern brewers “saison” is a nearly blank canvas; it’s definition, a moveable feast.
Yeah, it’s a bit of a diverse style and, admittedly, it can often times be hit or miss. I prefer the saisons that are heavy on the dry side, with a bit of a peppery/herbally yeast/hop character. The more fruity variations can also be pleasant if done right. Grant Heuer created a fantastic beer in Big Dog’s Dog Gone Saison. The yeast created a little bit of a clovey banana flavor that complimented the crisp dryness perfectly.
This past summer was home to two great saisons that had some unique extra elements added: Maui Brewing’s Lemongrass Saison, a collaboration beer with The Lost Abbey, and also Sierra Nevada’s Ovila Abbey Style Saison, brewed with mandarin oranges and peppercorns.
At 5% alcohol, this was the perfect summer beer. Super dry and crisp, lightly tart, and with a sweet lemony finish.
Abbey Style Saison
A fantastic beer. It had a sweetness that was balanced by flavors of bitter orange peel, and a peppery finish. The taste of orange marmalade lingered in the finish.