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Help me understand Saison

TLDR version: Subject basically nails it. For more depth, keep reading. :joy:

Ok, so I joined Brewiety when it first started to check it out and was lured in by the promise/hope of getting to try some Hill Farmstead brews and the premise they combed untappd (I’m addicted to that app) ratings for the beers people were searching for. In August, I got all excited because they did in fact ship some Hill Farmstead brews! I got these three:


Needless to say based on my expectations, I was extremely dissapointed and based on the AleSmith before it (all three of which are available for much less at my local whole foods) and the batch that was coming after it, I cancelled my membership. I’ve since been checking out Tavour because I can pick and choose what I’m interested to try. I digress…

Anyway, so I thought to myself, OK I’m not a Saison fan in any way shape or form. I do enjoy sours because they are just so different than my standard fare so whenever I go to a brewery I try those first typically just to see what they’re like. Admittedly, it took a while for me to get an appreciation for them (the first one I had several years ago I about spit out :joy:)

I’ve never understood saisons. Descriptors like barnyard and horseblanket to me sound utterly revolting. However, knowing Shaun Hill’s reputation as a brewer I figured that if I was going to try to understand saisons, these three would be good examples to legitimately analyze as much as possible.

I first tried Florence. I tend to keep new beers for Thursdays because I’m an untapped nerd and there’s a badge for that so why not. :joy: I had a hard time finishing the bomber but I worked my way through it trying to understand it and pick out the flavors. Blech, didn’t like it at all.

Tonight I mowed the lawn when I got home. My Miller rep brought me a Pliny the Elder from California this morning so I had that all planned for my new brew Thursday. It was delicious. :innocent: Then it was time for dinner and I thought, well let’s try another saison, so tonight I tried Arthur. I must admit I appreciated it more than Florence, maybe because it’s really hot out and it was nice and refreshingish like a carbonated alcoholic gatorade, but still not my first choice.

So to those who love saisons, can you give me some insight into what I should be expecting or looking for? I love trying new styles of beer and am over 1900 uniques on untappd so I’ve tried a literal ton of different beers. I don’t know that I’d ever even attempt to brew one, but I’m trying to learn and better understand.

Sorry for the wordy questioning post, but any insight would be great! :innocent:


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Do you associate the term Belgian with the term Saison. I could go on for a while but Saisons were seasonal brews of northern France and brewed by French speaking people who lived in the area of Belgium before the political boundary was drawn. Saisons were low ABV ales brewed to quench the thirst of the Summer and Fall harvest help. The word saison didn’t appear on a high ABV Belgian ale until around 1948.

And, not soured? Ever try one that wasn’t brewed with Brett?

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Saisons are not sours. You should be able to taste the yeast though. You should taste some fruitiness but from the yeast. You should try to brew one. The first one I ever brewed was my best. Been trying to replicate it. I had alot I find to smooth. I like alagash saison and collete saison for readily available. Whenever saisons are offered it’s the first I try. Kind of like a holy grail. Actually had a good one today at a local brewery

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No, I don’t associate the term Belgian with Saison. I enjoy several different styles of Belgian beer. I’d say bitey/tart would probably be a good description, although I suck at descriptors. Yes, very different than a traditional sour.


Peppery, weird yeast flavors are my takeaway for Saison. I generally don’t enjoy them. I kind of associate them with Belgians, but more like a " beginner’s intro to Belgian funk." Naturally, I don’t dig most Belgian beer, either.

Pick you up a bottle of SAISON DUPONT if you want a great Saison. Also this is not a beer style that needs to be to be ice cold 50 – 56.6 °F is perfect temp to enjoy it to its fullest. Also one of my favorite american ones is Hennepin (Farmhouse Saison) by Brewery Ommegang
Tastes apple, pear, spice, yeast Funk, doughy malt and light citrus peel. Finish is semi dry with a yeast Funk and citrusy linger. Medium body and creamy high carbonation.

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+1 to starting out with Saison DuPont, probably as close as you can get to a gold standard saison. Also anything you can get from Fantome.

Saisons are very flavorful, never boring, and as such they won’t appeal to everybody.

A side benefit to brewing saisons, during the recent hurricane, it’s the one beer that I didn’t worry about in the fermenter when we lost power. Can’t get hot enough for those yeasts.


I’ve always been a self confessed hophead but man, apparently I now love me some saisons! From suggestions made here on what to do with some fresh cherries I had, I’ve made two and have secondaried on cherries and peaches respectively. I especially find the pepper/spice aspect of them appealing. The base saison was delicious but the fruit took them both to a new level of enjoyment for me combining with the spiciness of the base beer. Very refreshing but with flavor! I have not tried the Saison Dupont but it’s on my list.

So I finally cracked open my bottle of Anna tonight. I gotta say I like this beer the best of the three Hill Farmstead Saisons by far. Still not my favorite style, but I’d definitely be able to drink more than one of these. I’ll have to see if I can find Allagash and Saison DuPont. When I talk about Belgians, I typically think about dubbels, tripels, quads, golden strong ales, and strong dark ales. I don’t typically associate Belgians with funk. I clearly need to widen my horizons on Belgian beers. Typically I love Belgian style beers (the styles I’ve listed). Belgians definitely have a unique taste in general.


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Dupont is a must try IMO.

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I’ve always thought of Belgiums as the Disney world of brewing… Some thing different for everyone! Sneezles61

Saison DuPont was my gateway drug to Dubbels, Tripels, Golden Strongs, Quads, etc. etc.

Only thing I have to contribute is that Markowski’s Farmhouse Ales book is a great resource on saison. It also helps clarify why there’s so much variation in the style. Not that it’s really a style, but rather a way of brewing with ingredients on hand, including local microbes. Which is also why it’s so hard to think of saison as a style. It’s more of just a seasonal ale, and it varied with what ingredients were on hand, outside temperatures, what foods were in season, etc…

That, and I’m not sure why we refer to Belgian-style ale as Belgiums. Not picking on you, @sneezles61, but I’ve seen it done all over the place. I mean, we don’t call pilsner/dunkel/helles Germanys, or porter/stout/mild/bitters United Kingdoms, or American IPAs as United States of Americas. :confused:

I’m excited Phil Markowski’s 2 Roads Brewery is doing a big expansion for barrel aging beers. About 20 min drive from me. They make some good beers most of which are only sold locally.

More to a point… Seems when a pilsner is called out… it covered a majority of stuff sold in the liquor store… Simply… Then you use bock, alot of dark brews are covered again at the liquor store… Now, when I hear Belgiums, there are so many styles that have been brought to the masses liquor store, I never knew what I was getting into years ago… So, therefore I will stand steady with my thinking… keeping it simple… Sneezles61

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