The saison style originated in the French-speaking region of Belgium, where it was brewed in the cooler months for summer consumption. Originally low in alcohol (around 3 percent) it was the beverage of choice for local farmworkers. Today, most are double the alcohol but the roots of the farmhouse ale style have been preserved.
Brasserie Dupont Saison, $6-$7.50
This Belgian brew is considered by most as the benchmark saison. It's a vibrant straw color with an explosive, two-finger head that sticks around. Fairly soft on the nose, there are hints of apple, pear, floral citrus, sourdough bread and lemon zest. Beautifully balanced in the mouth, it offers bright citrus, green apple, spicy yeast and subtle hops on the dry, expansive finish.
Goose Island Sofie Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale, $3-$4
Pours a hazy, copper tinged blond with a decent head that collapses quickly, leaving a little lacing. It opens with tart grape, Meyer lemon and yeasty bread aromas backed by orange zest, white pepper, chamomile and a touch of cucumber. There's a nice, but not overwhelming, sour bite that's balanced by ripe lime, orange and pear. A bit of spice comes through on the finish.
Selkirk Abbey Saint Stephen Saison Ale, $6.50-$8
A 22-ounce bomber from this Post Falls, Idaho brewery, it's a soft amber in the glass topped with a thin but persistent head. The yeasty aromas are complemented by fruity grain, citrus, green apple and floral hops. On the palate you get pear and plum combining with flavors of bread, pepper, clove and coriander. Not overly sour, it finishes lightly bitter.