Did reading our guide to Belgian beer styles leave you craving saison? We can't blame you; these farmhouse ales are pretty darn delicious, with their citrusy scent and floral and peppery flavor. But which specific beers should you seek out? We asked our crew of beer experts for their picks.
'saison' on Serious Eats
On February 1st, Chef Joshua Skenes and Sommelier Mark Bright re-opened their two-Michelin-starred Saison in a new space in San Francisco's SOMA district. The space offers a new addition: a 12-seat bar and lounge. Check out our sneak peak of the upcoming cocktail program.
The beers from Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas, have a devoted following—mostly the flagship Bock, best enjoyed in copious amounts alongside copious amounts of barbecue. We're always curious about a popular brand's new releases, so we eagerly cracked open a sample of Shiner's new spring beer, a farmhouse ale that will be available through March.
While I was traveling this month I missed the release of Almanac Beer Company's new series of California Table Beers, but that doesn't mean you should miss the beers, which are now selling in four-packs at Whole Foods, Bev Mo, and specialty beer shops around the Bay Area.
It's hot! I don't want to sound like I'm whining, but really, it's hot. Even here in chilly Minnesota this season has been one for the record books. I think I need a beer; something crisp, light, lively and refreshing. Saison is the perfect choice.
At Saison, a restaurant in the Mission that can best be described as French cuisine cooked by California locavores, your dessert may have come from the backyard. And that's a good thing.
Imagine it's mid-January. The days are slowly getting longer again, the college football bowl season has finally ended, and crocuses are just popping their heads out of the ground. You get home from work and go the fridge in search of refreshment. You want something that inspires hope for spring rather than reminding you of the Christmas presents you didn't like and the house full of in-laws wearing silly holiday sweaters. You don't want that delicious but heavy Winter Warmer or the last of the Pumpkin Ale. You want to be uplifted. 'Tis the season for Saison.
Saison is a light-colored, light-bodied, dry, fruity, and effervescent ale. It originates from the Wallonia region of Belgium, where French is spoken. Traditionally, it was brewed in the spring for consumption over the summer, but I like it as a late winter ale because of its higher alcohol content and spiciness.
I've been a fan of Brian Strumke's beers since the first time I tried Cellar Door, his white sage-laced Saison. Never beholden to the DuPont gold standard that many stylists cling to as the only true expression of a Saison, his beers are playful, creative, and often remarkable. So when I saw he was releasing a small portion of his flagship Stateside Saison that had been aged in Chardonnay barrels along with multiple strains of Brettanomyces, even the price tag (about $13 for 11.2 oz was the cheapest I was able to find it) wasn't enough to calm my curiosity.
Roast chicken is such a versatile dish—its sweet and savory flavors may convey subdued elegance, but they're equally at home at a German fast food stand. It's also a versatile companion for beer, pairing with a wide range of styles to fit whatever mood you want to create.
Of the 17 American-brewed Saisons we tried, some were malt-focused, others spiced, some herbed, funked, hopped up, and some were all of the above. The best Saisons we tried were dry, highly carbonated, and had a balanced bitterness.
Goan fish curries are built on a piquant paste of fiery chilies, garlic, and the earthy and floral flavors of cumin and coriander. The nutty sweetness of coconut tames the spicy intensity while the tang of tamarind provides a touch of acidity. Luckily, these flavors are even better with the right beer alongside them. So what are the best beers to pair with this dish?