Sunday, July 3, 2011

CT Column 18/05/2011: In Season

IN the Belgian province of Wallonia there is a long tradition of farmhouse brewing. Wallonian farmers used to brew tart refreshing ales to sustain and pay farm labourers in the same way that English farms used to ferment cider. These beers were traditionally brewed in spring before the high temperatures of summer spoiled the fermenting beer and were laid down to be drunk at the end of summer during the harvest. The seasonal nature of these brews lead to them being referred to as Saison which is French for season.
As a result of its farmhouse origins the saison style is a very broad church with a range of different interpretations being brewed. What all good Saisons have in common is a citric, tart, peppery refreshing quality created by the special yeasts used to ferment them, relatively heavy hopping, and sometimes the use of spices.
The classic Saison producer is commonly believed to be Brasserie Dupont, a sizable producer that is still located on a farm. There are currently 2 beers from Dupont imported into New Zealand, the zesty dry somewhat austere Saison Dupont and the stronger more fruity Moinette Blonde. Both are outstanding beers that make wonderful accompaniments to a wide range of foods particularly spicy dishes such as Thai curries where the peppery sharpness of the beer can balance the spicy richness of the food.
The Invercargill Brewery has just released their interpretation of the style. Named SA!SON as a reference to the fact that Dominion Breweries until recently held the trademark to Saison, the Invercargill brew is appropriately fruity and zesty with a big tangerine citrus character, some exotic tropical fruit notes and a dry tart finish. It’s a limited autumn release so get some while you can!
Meanwhile the beer world is currently holding its breath as we await the result of the IPONZ hearing into the trademarking of the word Radler, a style of German shandy. Consumer Group the Society of Beer Advocates, of which I am a member, have challenged the trademark as they contend that beer styles shouldn’t be trademarked. The judgement should be out in the next month.

1 comment:

Alice said...

Hey, nice blog! I've just written a wee post about a Dupont Brasserie Saison, and have linked to this post for people who want more info about the style.