Our Skipping Stone Saison is one of my favorite beers that we make. It has a beautiful hazy golden color that reminds me of the last golden leaves on the fall trees. It has a refreshing slightly peppery citrus aroma. Like early version of the Saison we used what might be on hand at the end of a harvest, pale two row barley, malted wheat, and oats make up a majority of the grain bill. We lightly hopped this beer with Czech Saaz. The flavor has light notes of citrus and pepper with a dry crisp finish.
What is a saison?
A Saison, also known as a farmhouse ale, is a pale ale that originates from the southern region of belgium. The style is characterized by being highly-attenuated, moderately-bitter, refreshing, and rather dry beer. It is common to use non-barley cereal grains and spices to add to the flavor and aroma. The smell of a saison can be fruity, spicy, and hoppy. With the spice note being a peppery note rather than clove. In appearance, saisons can range from a dark copper amber hue to a pale yellow with a golden-amber being the most common color.
History of Saisons
The saison (french for season) style originates from the southern region of Belgium known as Wallonia. The original intent for this beer was to quench the thirst of les saisonniers (seasonal workers). Beer served as a way to keep workers hydrated and happy. Recipes varied from farm to farm so early saisons would have been wildly different from each other. Although original recipes shared some qualities like a lower ABV to keep workers from getting drunk. With the modernization of farming the saison style died off with, until recently, only a handful of artisanal breweries making saisons. In recent years farmhouse style ales have gained popularity among American craft breweries.
Why did we brew a saison?
Well for one thing it is a refreshing style that I find myself drinking often. Beyond the fact that I enjoy the style, the idea of a saison resonates with me. It is a style of true grit, when this beer was first being made it was a solution to poor water quality, the ingredients were grown by the brewer, and it was about making it work. No doubt farming was tough, when the land was turned by hand, the seeds sowed by hand, and the crop harvested by hand. The days were long toiling in the fields and the drink that quench the thirst of those hard workers was the humble saison. When the brew day is long, when I have moved two pallets of grain by hand, or kegged 30 half barrels, or climbed into the hot sticky lauter tun to push out 1500 lbs of spent grain I think about those seasonal workers and I quench my thirst with the skipping stone saison that I helped make.
Skipping Stone Saison is sure to go fast so stop by Island City this week!
by James Scudamore, Assistant Brewer