Belgian saisons were originally brewed as light alcohol ales designed to quench the thirst of summer farm workers. As with all things creative, the style has morphed, and now saisons for all seasons can be found, while the level of alcohol can vary widely. The one quality most share, no matter where they're brewed, is a pleasantly refreshing bit of sourness at the center.
Fantome Brewing Hiver Saison
This Belgian entry, sealed with both a cork and a crown cap, is meant to be a winter offering, but it works surprisingly well in the heat. It pours a hazy gold with a nice white froth that holds well, and offers up floral, fresh-grass aromas with subtle pear and orange zest. Yeasty citrus with a distinct tang melds nicely with the smooth malt, mango, subtle hops and spice. It's deceptively easy drinking, but at 8 percent alcohol, use caution.
Grand Teton Brewing Grand Saison Farmhouse Ale
A part of this Victor brewery's Cellar Reserve lineup, this is a unique take on the style. The thinnest of heads tops the amber-colored ale. It has a surprisingly assertive hop profile on the nose that complements the spicy lemon aromas. The palate is filled with smooth fruit flavors (apricot, pear, orange, lime) and touches of spice. The requisite sour note is a bit subtle, but overall this is a refreshing summer brew.
Sierra Nevada Ovila Saison
Brewed in collaboration with the California Abbey of New Clairvaux, it's slightly cloudy and orange in color with a thick head that boasts good persistence and tight lacing. The aromas are a sweet and sour mix of orange, lemon and herb. A nice core of sour citrus is surrounded by soft malt and spice, with a touch of hops adding a little bite to the finish. This is a lovely and lively entry.