Must Be The Season of Saison

You’ve Got To Pick Up Every Stitch..

IMG_20160229_210808Two friends recently said to me, your blog is great but why don’t you review a broader range of beers? It’s mostly ales, porter/stout, and lager. What about fruit beers, other flavoured beers, wild beers, wheat beers, saisons, bières de garde, and so on?

Well, I admit my bias in favour of beers in the English tradition, and fine lager. I don’t often try other styles, because rarely do I find they are as good. I do occasionally stray to the farther shores of beerdom, pumpkin beer is an example, which I always liked. Or wet hop beer, if that counts.

But recently I came into possession of the beer shown in the image, and will review it. Jordan St. John, the Ontario beer writer, gave it to me, and I understand had some role in its development. Thanks Jordan.

It has upfront sour notes, seemingly acetic or from brettanomyces (wild yeast). As well, light malt, lemon and funk, and an earthy aftertaste. Pretty good, and I haven’t had a Belgian one lately I could compare it too although I recall Belgian saison as less sour than this.

An interesting beer, from the innovative and well-regarded Innocente craft brewery in Ontario. Not something I would normally turn to, but I could see it accompanying a rich Belgian beef and beer braise, ham and endive in cream, or good french fries. Many of the Belgian beers probably developed in a way that suited local cuisines.

Saison is a fairly flexible beer style anyway. I know from my own reading there was new and old saison, and sometimes they were blended. They did, too, tend to use off-piste grains, such as spelt. Innocente uses rye in the mash, which is appropriate to the oddball nature of the style and lends a buckwheat-like note.

But I’m not a fan really of the sour side. I always think of Fritz Maytag’s (of Anchor Brewery fame) comment that that he could never acquire the taste for lambic since in the early days he made too many batches of sour beer unintentionally, before that is he modernized Anchor’s plant and processes. It is precisely the rustic, do-it-yourself nature of saison that will appeal to many, though. It’s kind of a beatnik beer style. I doubt it ever made anyone rich, even in Belgium, but it offers colour and variety on the beer scene.