Saison beers originated in the French-speaking part of Belgium, with the word meaning “season”. The background to the name is due to this type of craft beer originally being brewed in the farming off-season, in the cooler months.
It has a typical cloudiness, like so many other Belgian beers, and has quite a dry and fruity flavor to it.
It’s also generally very highly carbonated, so be careful when you pour your first glass. It’s easy to end up with a glass full of frothy foam.
In true 52 Brews nature, our team sat down and ordered a load of these beers, and after many hard hours at work, we can bring you some great results.
Our Top 15 Saison Beers
1. Saison Dupont
One of the best Saisons in our taste test was unanimously this Dupont. It is as traditional as it gets, being bottle conditioned and unfiltered.
You will notice the cloudiness, and there will be some sediment as well.
Make sure you shake up the last bit at the bottom of the bottle, as the sediment does add a lovely flavor.
It also has a moderate 6.5% ABV. Ideal for a summer BBQ!
2. Goose Island Sofie
This Belgian Saison actually comes to you from Illinois and has been fermented with wild yeast.
It does make the process a little more unreliable, but the result is superb.
By adding orange peel during the aging process, it has a distinct fruitiness along with subtle spices and peppers.
The ABV is 6.5%, which for a Belgian beer is on the low side. Just means you can drink more of it!
3. Brooklyn Sorachi Ace
Brought to you from the famous Brooklyn Brewery in NY, this is one of the real traditional saisons available. They stuck to a proven method, and have created a truly great dry and fruity flavor.
It’s also a bit stronger than others at 7.6% ABV, which is thanks to the secondary bottle fermentation using champagne yeast.
It’s a perfect beer for hot sunny days with a light meal.
4. Boulevard Brewing Tank 7
This is another one of those beers for anyone who has been put
off trying saisons because of the weak alcohol content.
At 8.5% ABV, it is definitely one of the strongest, but the great thing is that it’s not overpowering.
You will immediately get a citrus fruit taste, but the lingering flavor is more dry and peppery. It’s a perfect drink to cleanse your palate when eating multiple courses.
5. Allagash Saison
This beer is one of the driest we tested, which is down to the wide selection of hops that are added during open fermentation. This process is known to bring out more flavors and a slightly tart aroma.
It’s also one of the cloudiest saisons on this list, but it does only have an ABV of 6.7%.
A great option if you want to enjoy a couple of drinks on a hot day.
6. Hill Farmstead Arthur
This is one of the most traditional farmhouse ales with a recipe and brewing process that is exactly the way it was hundreds of years ago.
Using a variety of hops, it delivers a wonderful dry aroma.
And because it is unfiltered and naturally carbonated, you don’t lose any of the fruity flavors provided by malted barley.
Many people like beers in the summer that don’t pack as much of a punch, which makes Arthur ideal at just 6% ABV.
7. Funkwerks Saison
Funkwerks’ brewery is based in Colorado, and in this creation, they have tried something a bit different.
Traditionally, Saisons are brewed at cooler temperatures, but they decided to turn up the heat a bit.
Unlike the other beers on this list, this process does bring out a lot more fruity flavors that hit you immediately.
It still has the dry bitterness that lingers and an ABV of 6.8%.
8. Hill Farmstead Anna
This is a similar ale as the Arthur above, but not quite as rustic.
It has a slightly sweeter flavor that is achieved by adding wildflower honey and extra malted barley to the mix. This gives it a less tarty finish that is smoother on the palate.
Keeping with the tradition of saison beers, it has a relatively low ABV of 6.5%.
9. Flora Plum
In this creation, Hill Farmstead decided to change things up a bit from a flavor perspective.
Different fruits have long been added to brewing processes of farmhouse ales, but this is the only one we’re aware of that has plum added to it.
It’s not overpowering, but you will notice the color is slightly more orange than the other ales they produce.
The ABV is an average 6.5%, making it one of those go-to beers for hot summer days.
10. Allagash Astrid
This is one of my personal favorite craft beers on this list, mainly because it is the strongest at 10.2% ABV.
This is thanks to a fermentation process that lasts a year, rather than the usual short period.
It has a much more tart finish that is similar to sour beers (see our favorites here)
While that’s a deviation from tradition, the ingredients, including saison yeast, are kept the same.
11. Saison Bernice
The Sante Adairius Brewery in California brings you this Bernice which we recommend buying a couple of Drink one now, and keep another one or two in storage for 6 to 9 months.
It’s one of those ales where Belgian yeast is added post-fermentation, which means that you can end up with a very different experience by letting it mature for a while.
The ABV is 6.5%, and because of that, along with the dryness, it’s perfect for BBQs.
12. The Bruery Saison Rue
As far as saison beers go, they have to be fruity with a nice lingering dryness.
And that is something that The Bruery in California have managed to get perfectly right. The carefully selected hops make it very dry on the palate.
And by avoiding going overboard with different citrus fruit, it has a much simpler aroma.
Sometimes less is more, but you still get a decent 8.5% ABV.
13. Jolly Pumpkin iO Saison
Not to be confused with one of those beers that have added pumpkin as a flavor, it is a bit more traditional and certainly not just for Halloween.
What does make it unique is that the lingering dry flavor from the hops is complimented with the aroma from rose petals, rose hips and hibiscus.
It’s a wonderful combination with a modest 6.8% ABV.
14. Burial Separation Of Light And Darkness
We couldn’t complete this list of craft beers without an option for those that do prefer the weaker beers.
In that sense, the Burial Beer Company have stuck with the original concept of creating a brew that is light, fruity, dry and not too strong.
The ABV of 5.5% is the lowest on this list, but it is still a delicious choice.
15. St. Feuillien Saison
The final recommendation on this list of beers actually comes from the country that first created this style of brewing.
This saison has a wonderful golden color that is a bit less cloudy than some of the others we tasted.
The local hops have been used for centuries and give you that wonderful dryness, along with a reasonable 6.5% ABV.
What is a Saison Beer?
A saison beer is a type of Belgian pale ale that has a very dry and fruity aroma to it.
It originated from the southern part of Belgium known as the Wallonia region, which has a very long history of creating some amazing artisan ales.
Of all the Belgian beer styles, it is probably one of the lesser known ones. It also lost some popularity because traditionally it was brewed as a low alcohol beer in the winter months.
But for brewers, spring is the perfect season for saison beers.
If you happen to spot one of these saison beers, definitely give it a try, as it is a very drinkable tipple.
“Nowadays, seasonal beers can feel like a marketing ploy, but back before refrigeration, they were a necessity.” – Anne Becerra.
Farmhouse Ale vs Saison
Essentially, farmhouse ale and saison refer to the same style of brewing that dates back to the 19th century. 
Farmhouse ales got their name literally from the fact that they were brewed in farmhouses. At a time when agriculture required vast amounts of manpower, farmers would brew batches of beer in the off-season, ready to serve to workers in the summer months. 
It was never made for resale, and was always brewed in the agricultural off-season, hence the French term saison, or “season.”
Today, you will find products marketed as both a Classic Saison and a Farmhouse Ale.
They’re basically the same, and we challenge anyone who claims to be able to tell the difference to a blind beer tasting challenge.
Final Thoughts on Saison Beers
Artisan ales like the saison are starting to come back into fashion, and if you’re looking for something to go with pretty much any meal, then get your hands on some as soon as possible.
While I personally prefer much stronger beers, I was pleasantly surprised at how much flavor these had.
Make sure you get a couple to compare, as they all provide a unique touch. And don’t forget to let us know which ones you liked best!