Good Day, Everyone!
I hope you’ve all been well through this odd summer we’re having. Here at Lone Oak we have been busy keepin’ the beers flowing across our gracious Island and it’s been great to see returning customers through our taproom, along with some new faces! We’re excited to have some new beers coming out and with the recent release of our barrel aged Saison, “Duet”, I feel the duty to elaborate on just exactly what a “Saison” is.
saison; [sāˈzän] noun.
Saison, meaning season in French, is a style of beer that pertains to just that, brewing seasonally. If you ask a different brewer what a Saison is, it’s doubtful you’ll get the same answer, and to be honest, there is no rigid definition that stands consistent. Historically, Saison is a beer “style” born out of necessity and has transformed into one of craft beer’s most complex and interpreted offerings. To me, a Saison is a brewer’s fingerprint and should tie a brewery to its place/location. At the outset, Saison was brewed in farmhouses in order to serve field workers in the summer months. Seasonal workers, or Saisonniers, would be the recipients of these pale, low alcohol, and simple beers. Today, brewers are taking the concept and characteristics of what the style was likely to have been in those simpler times and creating their own versions. One thing is certain about Saisons these days, and that is the definition or interpretation will never be the same from brewer to brewer. This being said, there are a few characteristics that I believe are vital in creating a true Saison; dry, light-bodied and yeast-driven. Some Saisons can be bitter, some can have brett character, some are barrel-aged; it’s really up to the brewer. Brewers should take pride in the fact that their Saison is not reproducible outside of their brewery. For Lone Oak’s Saison we used raw water (untreated and unaltered), locally grown malt, and a house culture of yeast I selected to inoculate the barrels that will call Lone Oak home for years to come. Over time, our Saison will change and evolve. They can be aged in your cellar or drank fresh, but keep in mind, the flavours of the beer will change with ageing. Hops become more subdued but the brettanomyces character becomes more prominent (if present). Saisons are a historical beer style, but really only coming back on the beer scene recently here in the Maritimes. The first Saison I ever tried was in fact the apex of Saisons, Saison DuPont, of Brasserie DuPont. The brewery was founded in 1950 and sits on an existing farm that has been functional in Tourpes, Belgium dating back to 1759. With the first sip of this beer, I was engaged. It is complex, earthy, and herbal with a slight funk, and the more I learned of this beer I realized its production is quite simple. These are the beers I love to make. Easy to drink, complex, and a part of history. Next time you raise a glass of Saison, cheers not only the brewer but the farmer, the bartender, your family, the community, because that’s exactly what the Saison style of beer depicts; the community and its contents in which it is produced.
Other Saisons in Eastern Canada you should keep an eye out for include; Campaign (Stillwell Brewing, Halifax, NS), Setting Day Saison (PEI Brew Co, Charlottetown, PE), De Novo (Upstreet Brewing, Charlottetown, PE), Dream World (2 Crows, Halifax, NS), Square One (Tata Brew, Tatamagouche, NS), Saison du Pinacle (Brasserie Dunham, Dunham QC), and of course, if you can find it – treat yourself with a bottle of Saison DuPont, it can change your entire outlook on beer.
Cheers to Saison!