At some point during the 1700s, in the French-speaking part of Belgium, called Wallonia, a new kind of beer emerged. The word “Saison” means season in French, and as the name suggests, these beers were brewed to be consumed on a certain season of the year.
Saison beers (also known as “Farmhouse ales”) were firstly brewed by farmers in Wallonia during the Winter and more specifically around Christmas, when temperatures were at their lowest. Then they were allowed to mature and bottle or cask condition until late Spring and Summer in caves or cellars. This kind of beer was meant to be consumed by both farmers and the seasonal summer and spring workers of the Wallonian fields (also called “Les Saisonniers”).
As Saison beer was aged for a long time, it was heavily hopped because hops acts as a natural preservative in beer. The carbonation of Saison is moderate to high and most of the times they are a bit spicy with notes of fresh pepper, fruits and many esters. These beers have a refreshing character and they are ranging mainly in low alcohol levels between 3–3.5%, although the modern commercial saison beers range between 5–8% ABV. A moderate tartness, a light body and a dry finish is also present due to the long period of ageing.