There is a beer category, little known beyond the Craft Beer community, called Saison and Farmhouse Ales. There is a long tradition in beer-producing Europe of crafting ales for warmer weather. These are more complex beers than lagers, yet they are fresher tasting than the cold-weather darker brews of winter.
Summer is finally here! Although seasons don’t really exist where we live here in Southern California, there are some drinks that are better than others in this warm weather.
I tried to keep that in mind when deciding our July BeerVenture, and in doing so landed on a category I have not yet hosted a tasting for: Saison and Farmhouse Ales.
Saison is a pale ale that is highly carbonated, fruity, spicy, and often bottle conditioned. It was historically brewed with low alcohol levels, but modern productions of the style have moderate to high levels of alcohol.
As a beer style, saison began as a pale ale brewed in the cooler, less active months in farmhouses in Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium, and stored for drinking in the summer months. These farmhouse beers would have been of a lower ABV than modern saisons—around 3 to 3.5% ABV on average, rising in the early 20th century to between 4.5 and 6.5% ABV. In the Middle Ages, the low-gravity beer was served as a clean source of hydration for workers who consumed an average of five liters per day. Brewing outside the summer months was common for all brewers before the discovery of refrigeration, due to the likelihood of the beer spoiling while fermenting in the summer, the height of airborne bacteria activity. Farmers possibly also brewed during the cooler months to provide work for their permanent staff during the quieter period. After brewing, the beer was stored until the summer when the main consumers would be seasonal workers ("saisonniers").
Historically, saisons did not share enough identifiable characteristics to pin them down as a specific style, but rather were a group of refreshing summer ales made by farmers. Each farm brewer would make his own distinctive version.
We will be exploring both the traditional saison style, tasting the best examples of that while also trying the increasingly popular mixed-fermentation saisons that have taken the beer scene by storm in recent years.
Don’t miss out on this fantastic lineup of beers, call the store now to reserve your spot before it sells out. See you Wednesday, July 18 at 7:30 p.m.
THIS MONTH'S BEERVENTURE TASTING AT THE WINE COUNTRY!
Wednesday July 18th, 2018
Saisons & Farmhouse Ales
Our beer expert Nick Larson hosts an eagerly anticipated tasting of complex summertime ales.
$25 Per Person Tasting Begins at 7:30 p.m.
RESERVATIONS REQUIRED (562) 597-8303