Saison hails from Wallonia in southern Belgium, where farmers brewed rustic ales in the winter for personal refreshment but also as payment for their summer saisonniers (seasonal workers). It’s strongly hopped for flavor and preservation but not bitterness; because the yeast ferments at a higher temperature, more sugar is consumed in the process. The result is a drier, tarter beer with a wine-like terroir that’s more herbaceous sauvignon blanc than juicy IPA. It’s sure to stave off the sweltering heat this month—no manual labor required.
Brasserie Dupont Saison Dupont
When American beer importer Donald Feinberg of Vanberg & DeWulf introduced this saison to the U.S. market in the ’80s, he brought the all-but-forgotten style back in vogue. Prickly with champagne-like bubbles (left), it goes down brut dry with a peppery sharpness and follows with a wallop of lemony hops.
The Listing Loon, 4124 Hamilton Ave., Northside, (513) 542-5666
Brooklyn Brewery Sorachi Ace Saison
So named for one of its main ingredients, sorachi ace, a rare, lemony hops varietal first cultivated in Japan for the making of Sapporo lager. It lends the beer a sweet, citrusy aroma not unlike that of limoncello and a bright tang that mellows out as it warms.
Jungle Jim’s, Fairfield and Eastgate locations, (513) 674-6000
Crooked Stave Surette Provision Saison From an experimental brewery in Denver comes this full-on funky saison—not an ale, but a “wild,” an emerging category of beer fermented with Brettanomyces (Brett) yeast. Found on fruit skins, it infuses beer with wine-like nuances. Surette possesses the complex fruit of a white Burgundy with traces of musty oak.
The Party Source, 95 Riviera Dr., Bellevue, (859) 291-4007
Christian Moerlein La Grange Saison
Moerlein Lager House is about to tap their third annual saison. Last year, it was flavored with candied ginger and orange peel. This year, they’ve gone old-school, adding just enough hops to accent the herbal spice of the yeast and a barely detectable pinch of coriander. Bone-dry and super crisp.
Moerlein Lager House, 115 Joe Nuxhall Way, downtown, (513) 421-2337
Rockmill Brewery Saison Farmhouse Ale
Matthew Barbee started brewing Belgian-style ales in Lancaster, Ohio, after he discovered the artesian well water on his family’s farm had a similar mineral makeup to that of Wallonia. This saison is on the sweeter, fuller-bodied side, with a nice dry finish.
Dutch’s Bar, Bottle Shop, & Larder, 3378 Erie Ave., East Hyde Park, (513) 871-1446
Originally published in the August 2014 issue