Suck It Up for a Saison

Erik Hernquist, August 14, 2013

About ten years ago, I used to work for a wine importer. It was a great experience that allowed me to try all kinds of wines from all over the world. Not only did I give my palate a work-out, I also learned to appreciate all styles of wines.

When I’d attend wine shows, friends would ask if I’d show them around to cut through the sea of wines. I would only do this if they agreed to drink everything that I did, and this included white wines. Some would turn up their noses, saying they only drink reds. However, by the end of the day, I’d convert them to at least admitting there are several well made white wines.

Now, here I am in the world of beer. While I was tasting my way through several different styles, I always shied away from saison. It wasn’t big or bold enough, just like many of my friends would tell me they only liked big cabernets. Some may not consider it manly because it doesn’t have an IBU over 100 or the ABV punch of an Imperial stout. However, it’s a beer, and a well-made beer, regardless of style, is still good. It was time for me to take my own advice and dive head-first into saison.

Pro-tip: When trying to find a saison, go to Eno – he’s a big fan. 

Since I had no idea of what I was getting in to, Mr. Sarris suggested starting off with the quenticential saison and a favorite of his – Saison Dupont from Belgium (3.48 BAR).  It starts with a cloudy, yet beautiful straw color. The carbonation on this tickles your tongue, making this crisp and refreshing. This dry beer perfectly balances its citrus and earth notes. You will not only appreciate how good saison can be, but will also be your baseline to compare all others.

Much like a wine show, I went on a tear and tried several, including a few Bretts. For me, the Saison Rue from the Bruery (2.79 BAR) was the star of the show. This was true to its style, but just kicked up a notch. It starts off with a gorgeous, rich amber color. The nose is earthy with a hint of citrus, which continues on the tongue. It doesn’t end there, as it continues with some toast and a spice note that really sold it for me. There is quite a bit going on, and the dry finish allows one to experience it again and again. I’ll definitely be doing just that.

For me, it was fun to dive in and try something different, especially when I could take the opportunity to compare and contrast several of the same style, while having a benchmark to work off of. Saison is an excellent beer for the season and also pairs well with food because of its delicate notes and dry finish. If you have a wine drinker visiting, who isn’t necessarily big into beer, put a saison on your list. I’m happy I sucked it up and sucked some down.

The Bruery Saison Rue

Look - 4.75

Smell - 4.0

Taste - 4.5

Mouthfeel - 4.5

Overall - 4.5

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