Food & Drink » Winesipper

A Tribute to Saisons

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If there is one thing you can expect from Belgian brews, it is the unexpected. Saisons are a case in point. They originated in the French-speaking section of the country and were brewed to quench the thirst of local farm workers. As such, they were typically low in alcohol and high in hops. Today, widely varied styles of saison are gaining in popularity around the globe. The Belgian benchmark, brewed by Dupont, is still not available in Boise, but there are interesting alternatives. Here's a trio--two from the United States, one from Italy--that pays homage to the newly diverse saison style.

Boulevard Saison-Brett

This one is filled with ripe-fruit aromas laced with straw and spice. There's a nice complexity on the palate that centers on creamy malt flavors surrounded by apple and melon fruit with enticing layers of lemon grass, pepper and spice. A nice hit of crisp citrus keeps things lively on the finish. This is definitely a great take on the style.

North Coast Le Merle Saison

This California entry has a fruity nose highlighted by fresh apricot that's backed by a pleasantly sour component. A bit drier than the Boulevard, tart apple favors play against smooth malt. This beer shows lightly sour citrus on the finish with touches of pepper and spice. There's lots of mouth-tingling fizz from start to finish in this very refreshing brew.

Wayan Saison Style Ale

It's been almost two years since I last tried this particular bottling of the Italian Wayan, and it has evolved nicely. There's still a lot of orange fruit on the nose but with an intriguing sour mash and herb component. Bright citrus plays against sweet fruity malt with earthy herb and spice adding to the flavor mix. Exceptionally well integrated and surprisingly fresh, this one comes highly recommended.