'Tis the Saison 

American brewers take cues from Belgian farmhouses 

| National   Drinks | Kaitlyn Goalen


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Farmers in southern Belgium once faced a conundrum: How to quench farmhands’ thirst during the hot harvest season?

To ensure a supply of potable water, farmers spent winter (when the cooler weather lessened the risk of the beers becoming contaminated) brewing batches of saison--French for “season.” The saisons were stored until summer, when the tart, earthy, low-alcohol beverages wet workers’ whistles.

While saisons have long been the domain of Belgian and French brewers, over the last decade American breweries have also become smitten by the versatile style, a perfect platform for experimentation.

In the brewer’s inventive hands, saisons range from dry and hoppy to spicy, floral and citrusy, with the addition of herbs such as rosemary or thyme, and spices like black pepper. Here are three saisons worth sipping in any season.

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