American Saisons: 5 Beers for Spring
Spring is in full swing, and with warm weather and crisp breezes come spades of seasonal brews.
One of the most popular styles this time of year is the saison ("season" in French). Originating in Belgium, saisons were designed as refreshing beers to serve after a day’s work in the hot sun. Although they are technically pale ales, they are much more complex than others of that family, with elements of pilsner and hefewizen in the brew. Known for their light body and crisp finish, they also carry heavy spicing and prevalent fruit flavors. Though some of the best are still brewed in Belgium, U.S. options are gaining steam. Here are five of our favorite American saisons.
Cooperstown, N.Y.-based Ommegang creates beers that hew close to traditional Belgians, and their saison is no different. Hennepin is lightly hopped and brewed with ginger and orange. It is on the dark side, with a rich amber hue, and sports a strong and dense head, which pairs nicely with the opening taste of hops. The second flavor is a heavy dose of citrus, mainly orange. Hennepin finishes with a strong taste of coriander — a popular saison spice — as well as a very light, but apparent, bit of banana. It falls on the high end of the alcohol spectrum for the style, coming in at 7.7 percent ABV.
The saison from Baltimore, Md.’s Heavy Seas Brewing is known as Red Sky at Night. This too is relatively strong, registering 7.5 percent ABV, and has an orange tint, unlike the typical straw color of the average saison. The head is lighter than most, with the white foam evaporating rapidly. The beer opens with a strong hop note, but then immediately reveals its density, containing a multitude of tastes, including banana and pear. Hidden under those is a subtle layer of caramel, lending the beer the robust feel of a brown ale.