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Craft Beer Times | Drawing Inspiration from Tradition: Exploring Agricultural Influences in Modern Saisons

Drawing Inspiration from Tradition: Exploring Agricultural Influences in Modern Saisons

Drawing Inspiration from Tradition: Exploring Agricultural Influences in Modern Saisons

Exploring Traditional Saisons and Their Agricultural Roots


Saisons, a style of beer originating from the French-speaking region of Belgium, have been gaining popularity among beer enthusiasts worldwide. These unique farmhouse ales are characterized by their refreshing and complex flavors, making them a favorite choice for many craft beer lovers.

A Historical Perspective

Traditional saisons were historically brewed by farmers during the winter months using leftover malts and other ingredients from the harvest season. These beers were then consumed by farmworkers during the summer months, providing them with hydration and necessary nutrition while they toiled in the fields.

The Agricultural Influence

The name “saison” itself means “season” in French, which reflects the deep agricultural roots of this beer style. Saisons were originally brewed to showcase the flavors and aromas of the local crops, embracing the agricultural heritage of the region. Farmers would use local grains, hops, and spices to give the beer a distinct taste, often incorporating herbs and fruits grown on their farms.

Contemporary Interpretations

In recent years, craft brewers around the world have been inspired by these traditional saisons and have sought to recreate and reimagine them. With an emphasis on using locally sourced ingredients and sustainable brewing practices, contemporary saisons pay homage to their agrarian origins while infusing modern elements into the brewing process.

Experimenting with Ingredients

Craft brewers have embraced the saison style as a canvas for creativity, experimenting with various ingredients to add unique flavors and aromas to their brews. From traditional additions such as coriander, citrus peel, and peppercorns to more unconventional ingredients like elderflower, hibiscus, and even foraged herbs, the possibilities are endless when it comes to crafting a contemporary saison.

Balancing Tradition and Innovation

While the contemporary saisons push the boundaries in terms of flavor profiles, they still maintain the core characteristics that define the style. These beers are known for their dryness, light to medium body, high carbonation, and a balanced, yet sometimes funky, yeast character. The delicate balancing act of combining traditional brewing techniques and innovative ingredients allows brewers to create saisons that are exciting and approachable.

The Perfect Beer for Any Occasion

The versatility of saisons makes them an ideal choice for various occasions. Their light and refreshing nature make them the perfect accompaniment to a summer picnic or a lazy afternoon in the backyard. At the same time, their complexity and ability to pair well with a range of foods, from grilled meats to spicy dishes, make them an excellent choice for a special dinner or a beer tasting event.


So, next time you’re in the mood for a beer that encapsulates the rustic charm of the farmhouse brewing traditions while incorporating contemporary twists, reach for a saison. Whether you prefer the classics or enjoy exploring the vast array of innovative interpretations, there’s a saison out there waiting to be discovered and savored.


Dustin is a writer about craft beer and a professional brewer in the city of Chicago. He has written for several magazines and has over a decade of experience in the beer industry. He is currently working on a book about the history of beer in Chicago.

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