High on Hops: Celebrate Spring with Saisons

spring saisons

Springtime is synonymous with blooming flowers, rising temperatures and thanks to the growing popularity of the style, the drinking of saisons.

The term saison refers to a classification of beers that evolved from 18th century French speaking Belgium.  Directly translated as “season,” these beers were brewed for farmhands to drink in the warmer weather months.  That relationship is why you sometimes encounter saisons alternately labeled as “farmhouse ales.”

The modern day saison is defined by light-in-color ales that have a prominent, sometimes funky or fruity yeast profile complemented by peppery spicing.  Grassy, herbal notes, moderate to high carbonation and a refreshing, dry finish make them perfect for finding relief from hot days spent working in the field or competing on the golf course.

To get a feel for the variety that saisons have to offer your discriminating palate, try one of these tasty spring-friendly ales.

Orpheus Atalanta

Billed as a “tart plum” saison, this canned offering from one of Georgia’s newest breweries shows off a creative take on the classic saison style profile. A sensory blend between a fruit-enhanced wheat beer and the almost barnyard yeast notes expected from the style, Atalanta becomes something new, straddling the line between two delicious worlds.

Prairie Artisan Ales Birra

Appealing to the session-drinking set, Birra’s lower alcohol content means that you can enjoy more than one without any hangover worries. Its makeup is very traditional with mild yeast complexity and ripe lemon and orange citrus notes. The taste recedes at the end with just a bit of cracked black pepper.

Southern Tier Sonnet 

Southern Tier calls this beer a “super saison” and at 8.5% ABV, it could definitely be considered an imperial variation, doubling the expected alcohol content for saisons.  The mild alcohol buzz is enhanced by lemongrass, rock-sugar sweetness and mild fruit accents.  A limited release from 2014, this beer may be harder to track down, but it will be well worth your time.

Funkwerks Saison

Not burying the lede with the name of this beer, Funkwerks brings the best of what it does to this ale. It sets a bold precedent with a full mouth-feel,  sweet citrus aroma and big flavor bursts of hay, apple, ginger and pepper. And yes, they do bring a welcome bit of funk in at the finish.