One of the most approachable yet intriguingly versatile craft beer styles around is the saison, aka “farmhouse” ale. This pale, spicy ale is the perfect “gateway” for anyone looking to transition from lighter options to bigger, bolder beers.
Historically, a saison was a refreshing beer that Belgian farmers would make for their workers during the warmer, harvest season. Because environment and availability of ingredients can drastically alter the character of a beer, the flavors of these beers would change considerably from farm to farm. What’s left after hundreds of years is a beer that has a little bit of everything.
A good saison offers hop bitterness; refreshing tartness; a dry finish; earthy and grassy notes; sharp, acidic citrus character; varying levels of alcohol and considerable carbonation. What’s even better is that rarely do these elements dominate or overwhelm. Most modern saisons stay extremely balanced. If you’re wary of beers that are sour, hoppy or “funky” tasting, or higher in alcohol content, saisons are a great way to introduce these components into your beer-tasting repertoire.
Adding to this beer’s versatility is its food-pairing capabilities. The bevy of flavors complement any number of dishes while simultaneously serving as the ultimate palate cleanser when moving from dish to dish. I love a good saison with traditional mussels (cooked in white wine with lemon, garlic and herbs), but its flavors complement so much else as well.
What saisons are available in Columbia?
Saison Dupont: The defining beer for the modern saison and a great introduction to the style
Boulevard Tank 7: All funky, grassy notes, with a significant, still approachable, amount of hops. This one’s great for introducing American hops to someone who’s not quite ready to delve into IPAs. It also stays drinkable while featuring 8.5 percent alcohol by volume.
Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabaza: A good, balanced introduction to tart or sour components without going over the top. Its tartness acts as a refreshing, finishing characteristic without puckering your mouth.