One can usually detect a saison just by looking; the style displays a characteristic yellow-orange hue and that famous Belgian lace. Saisons smell fruity, full of citrus esters, floral hops and spice. The flavor furthers the spice-fruit connection; a soft malt note supports the two in tandem with peppery phenols and earthy hops. Some versions offer some bitterness and sourness, which generally increase along with alcohol levels. Originally brewed in Belgium’s Wallonia region, saisons were intended as not-too-strong refreshment for farmworkers; now, ABVs vary widely; some table versions clock in at 5 percent, while a few monsters top 9%. Light to medium in body and wildly carbonated, these beers finish quite dry, but a tickle of acidity balances the drink.
Pair: These sparklers work well with spicy plates like Cajun shrimp and Tandoori chicken; the beer’s effervescence washes away some of the heat, but leaves the flavor intact.