Spirit of Philadelphia - Yards Cruise Series Leaderboard

American Saisons: 5 Beers for Spring

by David Covucci on May 1, 2012 in Beer
American Saisons: 5 Beers for Spring

Spring is in full swing, and with warm weather and crisp breezes come spades of seasonal brews. One of the most popular styles this time of year is the saison (“season” in French). Originating in Belgium, saisons were designed as refreshing beers to serve after a day’s work in the hot sun. Although they are technically pale ales, they are much more complex than others of that family, with elements of pilsner and hefewizen in the brew. Known for their light body and crisp finish, they also carry heavy spicing and prevalent fruit flavors. Though some of the best are still brewed in Belgium, U.S. options are gaining steam. Here are five of our favorite American saisons.

Ommegang Hennepin

Cooperstown, NY-based Ommegang creates beers that hew close to traditional Belgians, and their saison is no different. Hennepin is lightly hopped and brewed with ginger and orange. It is on the dark side, with a rich amber hue, and sports a strong and dense head, which pairs nicely with the opening taste of hops. The second flavor is a heavy dose of citrus, mainly orange. Hennepin finishes with a strong taste of coriander — a popular Saison spice — as well as a very light, but apparent, bit of banana. It falls on the high end of the alcohol spectrum for the style, coming in at 7.7% ABV.

Heavy Seas Red Sky At Night

The saison from Baltimore, MD’s Heavy Seas Brewing is known as Red Sky at Night. This too is relatively strong, registering 7.5% AB, and has an orange tint, unlike the typical straw color of the average saison. The head is lighter than most, with the white foam evaporating rapidly. The beer opens with a strong hop note, but then immediately reveals its density, containing a multitude of tastes, including banana and pear. Hidden under those is a subtle layer of caramel, lending the beer the robust feel of a brown ale.

Dogfish Head Saison Du BUFF

For their saison, Delaware-based Dogfish Head collaborated with several other breweries. This group effort from Dogfish, Stone Brewing Company and Victory Brewing Company is a stellar offering, and — just like with everything Dogfish Head — is anything but normal. This brew relies heavily on herbs, with sage, rosemary, parsley and thyme all steeped in during the process. The beer pours a perfect straw color, with a dense head. Hops are present in the first taste, but under it come the herbaceous notes, along with a hint of lemon. At 6.8% ABV, it’s also a little lighter on the alcohol.

New Belgium Prickly Passion

The spring offering from what may be the hottest craft brewer in the country right now — Denver, CO’s New Belgium Brewing — is Prickly Passion. The beer takes a different route than most, bringing fruit, not hops, to the forefront. This concoction is brewed with the juices from passion fruit and prickly pears, the flavors of which are obvious from the get-go, as is the alcohol content. This is a strong beer, coming in at 8.50% ABV. Prickly Pear has the nice straw typical of the style, though the head that doesn’t carry as well as some others. However, it finishes pleasantly with a touch of spice and bit of peppery bite.

Yards Saison

The lightest of our picks comes from Philadelphia’s Yards Brewing Company. Their saison comes in at 6.50% ABV, and makes for a smooth, light quaff. The beer has a hazy look to it, though it does not have the complexity that others do, drinking almost like a refreshing pilsner. There is little spice and nary a sour note, but it does have a strong hint of pear that shows through. The hops are also faint, coming more on the back end than in the opening. Alongside the hops are a grassy bite, which adds a refreshing feel. It also comes packed with carbonation, making it, and all these other beers, the perfect brew to enjoy on a warm, breezy spring day.

What are your favorite saisons for spring? Let us know in the comments.

Recent Articles
spacer

Feedback

How are we doing? Tell us what you like or don't like and how we can improve. We would love to hear your thoughts!

*Name:
*E-mail:
*Suggestions:
 
Head to Fork's Champagne & Oyster Brunch This Summer

Head to Fork's Champagne & Oyster Brunch This Summer

Every Saturday and Sunday through the month of September, Fork will be hosting a Champagne & Oyster brunch from 12PM - 4 PM complete with live jazz....read more ›

by Drink Philly Jul 25, 2016
Here Are All the Philadelphia Bars Open Late During the DNC, July 25-28

Here Are All the Philadelphia Bars Open Late During the DNC, July 25-28

It's finally here - your official list of which Philly bars have received permission to extend their hours to ...read more ›

by Drink Philly Jul 24, 2016
SPONSORED
Drink Philly Store Shirts Rectangle
Best Bars For Outdoor Drinking in Philadelphia, 2016

Best Bars For Outdoor Drinking in Philadelphia, 2016

Whether it's to enjoy the first warm breezes of spring or the summer's sunshine, Philadelphia is full of great places to drink in the great outdoors....read more ›

by Drink Philly Mar 10, 2016
Game of Thrones & Ommegang Will Release a Belgian Tripel Called Valar Dohaeris

Game of Thrones & Ommegang Will Release a Belgian Tripel Called Valar Dohaeris

Ommegang and Game of Thrones are teaming up for another new beer release this fall....read more ›

by Alexander Frane Jul 22, 2016
Lin-Manuel Miranda Will Retell Hamilton's Story on Drunk History

Lin-Manuel Miranda Will Retell Hamilton's Story on Drunk History

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Tony, Emmy, Grammy, Pulitzer, and MacArthur Genius winner and creator of Hamilton, will appear on Comedy Central's Drunk Histo...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jul 22, 2016
Don't Miss Philly4Pulse, Philadelphia's Massive Citywide Benefit for Orlando, July 21

Don't Miss Philly4Pulse, Philadelphia's Massive Citywide Benefit for Orlando, July 21

Bars all over the Gayborhood will be featuring specials, guest bartenders, and special events in the name of #...read more ›

by Michelle Cryder Jul 19, 2016
Grand Central's Campbell Apartment Will Close at the End of July

Grand Central's Campbell Apartment Will Close at the End of July

The Campbell Apartment, a New York institution connected to Grand Central Station, will close at the end of July....read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jul 18, 2016
Philadelphia Bars Will Be Able to Stay Open Later During the DNC

Philadelphia Bars Will Be Able to Stay Open Later During the DNC

Some Philadelphia bars will be able to extend their closing hours while the DNC is in town — but not before those bars jump through some more hoops....read more ›

by Drink Philly Jul 18, 2016
Indulge in Philly's Best Cuisine and Art at the 7th Annual FringeArts FEASTIVAL, Sept. 29

Indulge in Philly's Best Cuisine and Art at the 7th Annual FringeArts FEASTIVAL, Sept. 29

Audi's FEASTIVAL, Philadelphia's premier annual gourmet food festival, will return for its 7th year on Thursda...read more ›

by Drink Philly Jul 18, 2016
SPONSORED
View all Articles

Sign up to get weekly drinking news, bar reviews, events and more sent directly to your inbox!

Close