May 11, 2015 Hop Bombshells Meeting

Know Your Beer: Saisons


Saison­ French for "season"

Originated from ales brewed in cooler, less active months in farmhouses in Wallonia (French speaking region of Belgium)

Ales were stored for drinking on the job by the seasonal farm workers ("les saissoners") during summer months; were entitled to 5 liters each workday

Brewing during winter was common until refrigeration

● Beer spoilage during fermentation (summer is height of airborne bacteria activity)

● Provided work for permanent staff during off season

Each farm made its own distinctive version, makes it hard to pin them down as a specific style

Rise in interest recently in spite of being called an endangered style, but is still a minority brew in its home country

Style Characteristics:

2015 BJCP Stylebook ­ 25B

Pale, refreshing, highly­attenuated (high conversion of sugars into alcohol), moderately bitter, moderate strength Belgian ale with a very dry finish, typically highly carbonated, using non­barley cereal grains and optional spices. Most Saisons are a cloudy golden color (grist is mostly pale or pilsner malt) Esters can be high, reminiscent of citrus fruits. Hops low to moderate (spicy, floral, earthy, or fruity). Spice notes­ peppery, not clove­like. Herbs­ may be present but cannot dominate. Can have some sour, but Brettanomyces is not typical (American Wild Ale, BJCP category 28). Dry finish is essential to the style, should never finish sweet

Examples­ Lefebvre Saison 1900, Saison Voisin, Saison De Pipaix, Fantôme Saison, Saison Regal, Ellezelloise Saison, Saison Dupont Vieille Provision, Boulevard Tank 7 

Saison v. Bière De Garde:

Both are farmhouse style, both come from the same region, both are wide ranging categories  that are hard to pin down

How do you tell them apart?


● More highly­attenuated, hoppy, and bitter Belgian blonde ale (BJCP 25A, Leffe Blond, La Trappe Blond) with a stronger yeast characteristic

● Super strength and pale color similar to Belgian Tripel (BJCP 26C, La Fin du Monde,

Chimay Cinq Cents, Westmalle Tripel)

Bière de Garde:

● "beer which has been kept or lagered"

● Northern France

● Rounder, richer, malt­focused

● Lacks the spicy, bitter character of a saison

● 3 types: brown, blonde, amber

● BJCP 24C (Russian River Perdition, St. Amand, Jenlain, Saint Sylvestre 3 Monts, Ch'Ti, La Choulette)

© Hop Bombshells 2014