beer and food

Saison — what’s it all about?

Saison 1900 beer in the Dove pub, Hackney, London

I consider these beers [saisons] truly glorious and endlessly interesting. As with wheels of great artisanal cheese, every bottle of saison is very slightly different — it lives its own life, tells its own tale.”

Garrett Oliver, The Brewmaster’s Table

I’ve only had saison twice — the same one (1900) in the same pub (the Dove) two years apart.

That’s not enough data for me to work with in terms of understanding it as a type of beer.

1900 (like rather a lot of Belgian and French beers) has a somewhat overpowering burnt sugar flavour and, like Altbier, finishes with a kind of metallic, dry bitterness. Garrett Oliver isn’t kidding when he says it tastes better with food: I much prefered it once I’d eaten some flame grilled meat and some salty chips, when it seemed drier and less sickly.

But I’m not blown away. Is 1900 a rubbish example of this type of beer? If not, what am I missing? And if so, which others should I try instead?


12 replies on “Saison — what’s it all about?”

I third the Dupont and add Fantome to your list of ones to try.

WTF? Garrett is a pretty nice guy, why the slag?

Yes, 1900 is a rubbish saison. Dupont and Fantome are very good examples of the style. Another to look out for is Schans Saison from the Netherlands – not sure how “true to style” it is, but what I do know is that it’s a damn fine beer.

brendan – I just asked if he talks the way he writes. It’s a fair question. Yes, the implication is that if he did so, listening to him speak would be somewhat hilarious – sorry if that offends. Welcome to Britain.

In any case, a “slag” is a derogatory term for someone who is loose-drawered, used more generally by cockney gangsters to denote disrespect for anyone.

Saison 1900, yes it’s a fairly uninteresting Saison – and yes, Dupont, we can all love – be that the Veille Provision or even the Avec DBV – and many of the American ones that I have had, be that Brooklyn Local 1, or the excellent Saisons from Phil Markowski at Southampton Brewery. The “out of style” Fantomes – all have their place – don’t forget that it wasn’t too long ago that Dupont’s Saison was for the chop…

I just think that Saison is a “missed” brew, we’ve sort of, kind of, missed the point. To understand it – hell, it’s just a thirst quencher for field workers… or so it was. Now it’s one of the most in demand beers in many places. The spices, the herbaciousness etc, almost something of a lost taste sensation – under the wave of monster hops or sticky dark things – with bourbon barrel age –

I think it’s a wonderful type, or style of beer, where one beer can be incredible refreshing and the next from the same bracket can be a more sit down with a book.

Around London there are a few bars selling other Saisons – Pipaix, Voisin, Geants… i think, and definitely Dupont. Have a go!

If you can find it in London, and you probably can since I can find it in Virginia, the best Saisons I have ever had are from Brasserie de Blaugies. The two I sell in my store are La Moneuse and Saison d’Epeautre. If Dupont is very good, these two are outstanding.

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