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Craft Beer Times | Video Tip: Traditional & Agricultural Inspirations for Modern Saisons

Video Tip: Traditional & Agricultural Inspirations for Modern Saisons

Video Tip: Traditional & Agricultural Inspirations for Modern Saisons

Traditional and Agricultural Inspirations for Contemporary Saisons

The Origins of Saisons

Saisons, meaning “seasons” in French, are a type of beer that originated in the French-speaking region of Wallonia, Belgium. Traditionally, these beers were produced in the winter months by farmers for consumption during the summer. They were brewed with locally available ingredients, making them a true reflection of the agricultural practices of the region.

Characteristics of Saisons

Saisons are known for their unique characteristics that set them apart from other beer styles. They are typically light to medium-bodied, with a pale straw to golden color. The use of a specific type of yeast, known as the Saison yeast, is what gives these beers their distinct flavors. The yeast contributes fruity and spicy notes, often accompanied by a pleasant tartness.

Traditional Ingredients and Techniques

In traditional Wallonian saisons, brewers relied heavily on locally sourced ingredients. The grain bill consisted of a combination of barley, wheat, and sometimes oats. Hops were used sparingly, as they were mainly grown for medicinal purposes rather than for brewing. To add complexity and flavor, other agricultural products such as herbs, spices, and fruits were often incorporated into the brewing process.

Modern Interpretations

As craft brewing has gained popularity worldwide, saisons have seen a resurgence in both traditional and contemporary forms. Modern interpretations of saisons often deviate from the strict guidelines of the original style, allowing for experimentation and innovation. Brewers now use a wider range of ingredients, including a variety of hops and grains, to create unique flavor profiles while still keeping the essence of a saison.

Agricultural Inspirations

Many breweries today draw inspiration from their local agricultural landscapes when crafting saisons. They source ingredients from nearby farms and incorporate them into the brewing process, creating a direct connection between beer and terroir. This approach not only showcases the flavors of the region but also supports local farmers and promotes sustainability.

Pairing with Food

Saisons are incredibly versatile when it comes to food pairings. The beer’s complex flavors and effervescence make it an excellent accompaniment to a wide range of dishes. Saisons complement spicy foods, seafood, poultry, and even delicate desserts. The fruity and spicy undertones of the beer can enhance the flavors of various cuisines, making it a popular choice among food enthusiasts and beer lovers alike.

An Ever-Evolving Style

Saisons have evolved over time, both in their ingredients and brewing techniques. What started as a farmhouse beer brewed by agricultural workers has now become a beloved style among craft beer enthusiasts worldwide. Whether you lean towards the traditional or prefer to explore the boundaries of the style, saisons continue to inspire brewers to create new and exciting variations, keeping the spirit of innovation alive.


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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