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Saisons and Camembert

Belgian beers have become especially popular in recent years.  Belgian ale yeasts give these beers a most distinctive character.  Recently, I introduced two versions of the Belgian style, “saison” to two groups of friends.

Randy Mosher describes Belgian beer history in his book, “Tasting Beer.” The name “saison” is French for “season”.  Some say this style originated in the French-speaking part of southern Belgium, known as Flanders.  Other records indicate that the style originated in the eastern region of Liege(near Germany); the region of Mons (further west) is where saisons are now made.  The story goes that this beer was brewed “in season” between November and March in farmhouse breweries.  This style was able to stand up to summer heat, was tolerant of fermentation temperatures above 90oF, and was consumed by the farmhands during the summertime. 

Saisons have an herbal, peppery spice aroma.  With a slight tang, they are very crisp and dry.  Most interesting about the style is the subtle earthy flavor.  The color is a hazy bronze; they are effervescent and form a mousse-like foam head when poured. Saisons are traditional for summer, but good year-round.   

Saisons and Camembert

I shared a bottle of Saison Dupont with friends while boating on pontoons.  This is a true Belgian beer—produced in the Brasserie Dupont, in Tourpes-Leuz, Belgium.  It is the 2nd highest-rated saison on Beer Advocate.  Using a cheese-pairing recommendation from Mosher’s book, I purchased an 8 oz. round of camembert—a soft cow’s milk cheese with a pure white edible rind; a style that originated in France. Camembert has a flavor that strengthens as it ages; it is buttery and slightly salty, and with a trace of ammonia. Samples were served in small, 2 oz. glasses—along with slices of camembert.  The Saison Dupont is produced in green wine-like bottles (including a cork).  Green glass is not strongly protective of light; I noticed a mild light-struck (skunky) aroma and flavor, so I was a little disappointed—expecting an impressive saison. 

With the second group, I offered a bottle of Boulevard’s Saison Brett.  Boulevard has three versions of saison, and this one has the addition of a special wild yeast, Brettanomyces, along with bottle-conditioning yeast—giving it a distinctive “barnyard” aroma and flavor; enhancing the earthy goodness.  This beer is has the second-highest rating on Rate Beer.  This is the best saison I have experienced!  Again, I paired the beer with camembert; our appetizer was combined with fresh fruit including blueberries, peaches, and cantaloupe.  All who tasted the saisons found it to be an interesting beer style in flavor and presentation (the 750 mL bottles).  Both saisons were purchased at Gomer’s.  Pick up a good bottle of saison for your next summer party!

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Comments

  • David 5 years ago

    Just a quick correction/tip for browsing BeerAdvocate. Saison Dupont is a great saison, but it's not the second highest ranked saison on BeerAdvocate. It's the second most-rated saison. The default sorting criteria when you browse by style on BeerAdvocate is number of reviews. To see the top ranked saisons (or beers of any style), click the "View the Top Beers" link. Saison Dupont is the tenth highest ranked saison. In fact, Boulevard's Saison - Brett is the highest ranked saison. Hope that helps.

  • Jennifer 5 years ago

    You are correct; I overlooked that when I checked the BeerAdvocate ratings! Glad to know that Boulevard's Saison-Brett is rated best on BeerAdvocate. After writing my article, I picked up a bottle of Avery's Sixteen Saison--waiting for a nice occasion to enjoy it! I haven't found it on either BeerAdvocate or RateBeer.

  • straight cash homey 5 years ago

    I think people see the brett in the boulevard and automatically assume its going to be the best because funky beers are hot right now. its a great saison, but the best? certainly would get better with some time in bottle, mine had no brett charachter.

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