The season of saison

Photograph by Romulo Yanes via Bon Appétit

Woo hoo!  It’s that time of year when restaurants and bars all over the country swap dark stouts for crisp, refreshing Belgian-style saisons.  I once heard this style of beer referred to as the “Gatorade of beers” because these earthy and spicy, easy-drinking beers are perfect thirst quenchers in warm, summer temps.

Here are six of my favorite, readily available saisons:


1.  Saison Dupont // ABV: 6.5% // Tourpes, Belgium
Coppery blond, the finest aromas and a strong bitterness transform this beer into a thirst-quencher with no equal, just the way it was created.  (Saison Dupont)

2.  Ommegang Hennepin // ABV: 7.7% // Cooperstown, NY
A moderately hoppy, farmhouse-style ale with a champagne-like effervescence, Hennepin has a crisp start followed by malt sweetness balanced with a firm bitterness. Hennepin has a bounty of great flavors: ginger, spice, orange and toasted grain. Pouring a bright golden color with a spicy-sweet balance of orange peel, sweet malt, hops and ginger, Hennepin makes way for a dry finish with a slight bite of ginger.  (Ommegang Hennepin)

3.  Goose Island Sofie // ABV: 6.5% // Chicago, IL
Fermented with wild yeasts and aged in wine barrels with orange peel, Sofie is a tart, dry, sparkling ale. A subtle, spicy white pepper note, a hint of citrus from the orange peel and a creamy vanilla finish make Sofie an intriguing choice for Champagne drinkers and beer drinkers who are fond of Belgian Saisons. (Goose Island Sofie)

4.  Stillwater Artisanal Stateside Saison // ABV: 6.8% // Baltimore, MD
Stateside Saison pays homage to old world tradition while celebrating new world innovation. Naturally brewed with the finest European malts & fresh aromatic hops from the United States & New Zealand. It’s then fermented using a classic farmhouse ale yeast and bottle conditioned to enhance stability. The outcome is a beer of unique design and exquisite taste, showcasing some of the best attributes of modern-day craft brewing. (Stillwater Artisanal Stateside Saison)

5.  Yards Saison // ABV: 6.5% // Philadelphia, PA
Saisons were originally brewed to keep farmhands happy and hydrated during the warm summer months. True to the style, Yards’ Saison is a semi-unfiltered Belgian style ale brewed with distinctive Belgian yeast. It’s delicate and fruity with a subtle spiciness. Styrian Goldings in the kettle lend a touch of hop to the palate, balancing out this highly drinkable version of the classic style. (Yards Saison)

6.  The Lost Abbey Red Barn Ale // ABV: 6.7% // San Marcos, CA
This Farmhouse Ale traces its roots to the small rustic breweries of Southern Belgium. The word Saison comes to us from the French language and it means season. Lightly spiced with Organic Ginger, Orange Peels, Black Pepper and Grains of Paradise, this brew promises to quench your thirst on the hottest Southern California days or wherever your travels may take you. (Lost Abbey Red Barn Ale)

What’s your favorite saison?