Spirt of Philadelphia First Friday 2017 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:
 
Behind the Bar: Trevor Schneider, US Reyka Vodka Ambassador

Behind the Bar: Trevor Schneider, US Reyka Vodka Ambassador

This installment of Behind the Bar is focused on Trevor Schneider, the US brand ambassador for the Icelandic Reyka Vodka....read more ›

by Alexander Frane Apr 19, 2017
Drink Your Way Through the 2017 Philly Science Festival, April 21-29

Drink Your Way Through the 2017 Philly Science Festival, April 21-29

Get to know what's in your glass down to every particle at the 2017 Philly Science Festival, which is taking p...read more ›

by Jessie Donofrio Apr 19, 2017
SPONSORED
Skygarten is Back for the Season with a Grand Relaunch Party, April 19

Skygarten is Back for the Season with a Grand Relaunch Party, April 19

Skygarten, the beer garden perched atop Sky Philadelphia (formerly Top of the Tower), will reopen with a relau...read more ›

by Drink Philly Apr 19, 2017
Sample Cask Beer at the 10th Annual Yards Real Ale Invitational, April 30

Sample Cask Beer at the 10th Annual Yards Real Ale Invitational, April 30

Yards' popular Real Ale Invitational, which celebrates cask-conditioned and unfiltered beers, is back for its ...read more ›

by Drink Philly Apr 18, 2017
Woodford Reserve is Bringing Two Distinct Culinary Experiences to Center City, April 24 & 25

Woodford Reserve is Bringing Two Distinct Culinary Experiences to Center City, April 24 & 25

Woodford Reserve is bringing two unique whiskey-focused dinners to Center City, complete with cocktails, paire...read more ›

by Drink Philly Apr 18, 2017
Drinking Wine is the Best Mental Exercise, According to Science

Drinking Wine is the Best Mental Exercise, According to Science

Can drinking wine actually be beneficial to your health? A professor of neuroscience at Yale may have found an answer....read more ›

by Alexander Frane Apr 12, 2017
Best Bars For Outdoor Drinking in Philadelphia, 2017

Best Bars For Outdoor Drinking in Philadelphia, 2017

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 Apr 11, 2017
Cira Green is Hosting a Pop-Up Beer Garden on Fridays This Spring

Cira Green is Hosting a Pop-Up Beer Garden on Fridays This Spring

Philly is adding another sky high beer garden to its portfolio this spring, with the new pop-up Beer Garden at Cira Green opening April 21....read more ›

by Jessie Donofrio Apr 10, 2017
This Summer, You Can Drink Your Rose Out Of a Forty

This Summer, You Can Drink Your Rose Out Of a Forty

A company called Forty Ounce Wines is now selling this warm-weather wine in forties, giving drinkers a whole new way to drink 'rose all day.'...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Apr 10, 2017
SPONSORED
View all Articles

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

Close