History of the Saison
Saison is a beer of tradition and history. Originally made in Wallonia, a predominantly french-speaking area of Belgium, this beer was made by each farm for the saissonniers. A saissonnier is someone who is seasonally employed, typically in the summertime, and literally translates into “seasonal workers,” which means that saison translates into “season. Saissonniers were given the beer, free of charge, on each working day up to 5 litres and had a much lower alcohol content at 3-3.5% abv when compared to today’s version containing around 5-8%.
Regarding the flavour itself, there were no rules of commonalities about profile, flavour, or ingredients when it came to this style of beer as it was mostly a giveaway and would be made with what was available. The purpose of the beer was enough to bind the style together at the time. Today, the style can be described as a pale ale that is around 7% abv, highly carbonated, and contains fruit and spice notes.
Production of this beer was done outside the summer months, when work was slower for the farm and gave the year-round workers a job to do. Additionally, brewing the beer in the fall or winter helped preserve it and avoid spoiling as bacteria and other contaminants are more active and present during periods of high heat and tend to spoil alcohols during the fermentation process. The time of year, naturally, stopped being an issue once refrigeration was invented and usable by the masses.
About Persephone Brewing
Living up to the tradition of the saison style, Persephone brewing actually has a farm house and farms their own hops in Gibsons, BC, Canada. Presumably, this is the beer of choice for the thirsty farmhands during the hot summer months, but unlikely they can drink 5 liters a day of the stuff a day.
In addition to brewing their own hops, the brewery owns a substantial acreage of land that is partially sub-contracted for organic vegetable growing and then sold back to the brewery for use at their on-site eatery, where, I’m positive, every meal is served with a fresh pint. Persephone’s business doesn’t end there! They are very involved within their own community and have several charitable and/or community driven programs they participate in, which can all be found here.
Although they aren’t organic certified, there are several organic growing and farming practices in place and all ingredients are sourced locally within the province of British Columbia, Canada. Having learned about this beer style’s history and the brewery from where this particular version came from makes for a more satisfying tasting of it.
Persephone Brewing Multigrain Saison Review
Persephone Brewing describes their saison as follows:
A bright, refreshing farmhouse Saison brewed with barley, wheat, rye, oats, corn and rice. Light in colour and body with notes of peach, clove and black pepper.
On the pour, there is a lovely golden colour, similar to a lighter honey. The carbonation is quite evident with an effervescent quality, in both meanings of the word, bubbly and vivacious and enthusiastic. The head was very generous, likely due to the rapid and bountiful quality of the carbonation, an slow to dissipate. It’s also textured with micro bubbles giving it a creamy look.
This saison smells of a wheaty body, sweet fruit, and a touch of spice. The spice does have the appropriate strength of black pepper when spicing a salad and, when mixed with the fruity sweet smells, is similar to the tartness of a strawberry.
On the first sip, peach grasps on to the tip of the tongue and washes across the rest of your mouth. After a light coating, the black pepper crackles across the tongue, similar to what you would experience with a small dose of pop rocks, and refreshes the palette. Part of this must be resultant form the high carbonation, which is typical in the saison style. The overall flavor interactions are enjoyable and smooth. The slight aftertaste leaves the peach sweetness at the sides of the tongue with a slight numb feeling.
Overall, this saison is smooth with the mixture of peach and pepper notes and a creamy, silky mouthfeel. It finishes with a refreshing crackle from the pepper, cleansing the palette and leaving only a diminishing peach aftertaste.
Smooth body, silky mouth coating, great expression of its flavours across your palette.
Could be said that the aftertaste could be more prominent, but it’s still enjoyable.
Grilled red meats, creamy cheeses, and greens.
Time of year
As tradition dictates, a beer for someone out in the summer sun.