A few years ago, in 2012, Drink Craft Beer highlighted several Saisons in a piece called "For the Love of Saison." Back then, American craft brewers making Saison was a somewhat new phenomenon. Today there are breweries throughout America that are trying their hands at brewing a Saison, each with a unique take on the classic Belgian style. I took the time to collect and sample some Saisons from across New England, and I am happy to report that the style is still going strong. (Editor's Note: Everything seen here is available in Massachusetts, and several of them are available throughought New England.)
The first Saison I sampled is also one of the latest entries into the style. Allagash Brewing out of Portland, Maine recently released its own Saison as their first new year-round beer in seven years. It pours a nice straw color, with a fruity aroma that is immediately noticeable. The yeast and spice profile in this one really stand out, resulting in a flavorful beer that is very drinkable at 6.1%. It's a great Saison in many ways!
Two Roads Worker's Comp Saison
The next brew I tasted is also fairly new, at least when it comes to the Massachusetts craft beer scene. Two Roads Brewing Company of Stratford, Connecticut just recently expanded its distribution to Massachusetts, and I am certainly glad they did. Their Saison is crisp and refreshing with a farmhouse flavor that is nicely complemented by notes of wheat and rye. At only 4.8%, this one is also easy to drink. My tastebuds certainly feel compensated!
Mystic Saison Renaud
Mystic Brewery in Chelsea, Massachusetts brews several Saisons, some seasonal, others year-round. Saison Renaud is available all year and was brewed to highlight Mystic's house yeast strain. With just pilsner malt and Saaz hops, there is a simplicity to this brew that truly shines a spotlight on the yeast. At 6.5%, this one has a funky flavor with a bit of candy and a nice spice to it. It's definitely different, but in a good way.
Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale
The only Saison I had that wasn't from New England. After the great things I had heard about it, I had to give this Kansas City, Missouri beer a try. It did not disappoint! With a prominent yeast character, along with a wonderful blend of bready malts and earthy hops, this was the most complex Saison that I tasted. The 8.5% abv is barely noticeable behind the potent flavors in this brew. Outstanding!
Long Trail Brush and Barrel Saison
Next I tried a very special Saison from Vermont's own Long Trail Brewing Company. One of the beers featured in their Brush & Barrel Series, in which Long Trail brewers team up with local artists, this Saison is spicy and floral with a slight bitterness. It is nicely balanced at 7.1%, with a dry and overall smooth finish. It is a creative approach to a traditional Saison.
Night Shift Grove Farmhouse Saison
I have to say that this was probably my favorite of all the Saisons that I tried. Night Shift Brewing from Everett, Massachusetts took a Saison and infused it with fresh Meyer lemons and Ruby Red grapefruits. The result is something truly remarkable. This one came in at 6.9% with a juicy fruit flavor that made it unlike anything I've ever tasted. The yeast is present, but the taste of citrus really stands out in this Saison. If this sounds good to you, I suggest taking a trip out to Everett to visit Night Shift’s massive new taproom!
Time for the Saison bonus round! A lot has happened in the past few years, especially when it comes to Saisons. Trillium Brewing started in 2013 by filling growlers with its signature Trillium Farmhouse Ale. Since then, it's brewed many distinct and memorable beers and has begun bottling a few of their more popular brews. With the recent trend in canning craft beer, a few Saisons have also started to make their way into cans. I decided to try a couple to see what they were like.
Trillium Wakerobin Farmhouse Red Rye Ale
One of my favorite brews from Trillium, this Rye Saison pours a beautiful amber color and smells of sweet caramel. The flavor begins with some nice orange zest and finishes with a citrusy sweetness. The rye gives this brew a nice spiciness throughout and makes this Saison stand out even more. A heavier brew at 7.4%, this Saison is truly unique.
Foolproof Le Ferme Urbaine Farmhouse Ale
Rhode Island's Foolproof Brewing Company first released La Ferme Urbaine (also known as LFU) in 22oz bottles. Today it's solely found in cans. I've had the bottled version and, after tasting LFU from the can, I can say that it tastes just as good as before. It pours hazy yellow with a fruity aroma and a sweet yet balanced flavor. This brew is nicely carbonated (as are most Saisons), which gives it a light and tingly mouthfeel. A slight tartness makes this example of the style delightfully drinkable, even at 7.8%. It will always be a favorite of mine, especially during the warmer months.
Big Elm 413 Farmhouse Ale
The final Saison I tried also came from a can. This one was from Big Elm Brewing out of Sheffield, Massachusetts. It is a bright and peppery brew with a nice lemon zest and a hint of honey. At a pleasant 6%, the taste of apples and wheat make this Saison both refreshing and flavorful. An enjoyable end to this series of Saisons.
With Memorial Day just past, summer will be here soon. It's the perfect time to sit out on the porch, soak up some sun, and enjoy whatever Saison appeals to your taste. So get out there and find one that you enjoy, and don't forget to check out Drink Craft Beer Summerfest: A Celebration of Farmhouse Ale this July to try several of these beers and many others, with 25 New England brewers and tons of Saison! Celebrate Farmhouse Ales. Celebrate the summer. Celebrate Saison!