Zaison Imperial Saison Ale - Brewery Vivant

Not Rated.
Zaison Imperial Saison AleZaison Imperial Saison Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
82
good

163 Ratings
THE BROS
82
good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 163
Reviews: 41
rAvg: 3.64
pDev: 15.66%
Wants: 7
Gots: 14 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Brewery Vivant visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Saison / Farmhouse Ale |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Summer

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: MichPaul on 05-12-2012

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 163 | Reviews: 41
Photo of StoutHunter
4.39/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I picked up a tall boy of Brewery Vivant's Zaison Super Saison last week for $3.29 at The Lager Mill. This is the second beer in Brewery Vivant's Brewery Reserve series, I thought that the first one, Kludde was pretty unusual so hope this one turns out good, so lets see how it goes. No visible canning date, but its a fresh spring release, pretty fitting for the season. Poured from a 16oz can into a tulip.

A- The can is pretty much the same as the other beer in the series. except it had a nicely drawn castle scene on the sticker, it looks pretty good. It poured a nice pale golden color that was kind of hazy and took on a nice bright orange tint when held to the light and it had two and half fingers worth of velvety smooth white head that left hardly any lacing and died down to a thin ring that eventually faded to nothing. This was a proper looking Saison but I wish it had some lacing and better retention.

S- The aroma starts off with lots of sweet malts that have a slightly wheaty and bready aroma. Next comes a pretty earthy hay and straw aroma followed by a slight tart aroma. Next comes those typical spice aromas that you get from the Belgian yeast followed by some citrus rinds and some peppery aromas. Towards that end I get some grassy and earthiness that could be from some hops. The aroma was pretty damn nice, and just how I would expect a well done Saison to smell and the extra alcohol didn't show up in the aroma.

T- The taste seems to be pretty similar to the aroma, at the start I get some some pretty sweet malty and wheaty flavors followed by some nice lemon and orange rind flavors and a lighter amount of peppercorns. Next comes a little bit more sweetness with some grassy hay and a very slight funky slightly barnyard flavor followed by a little bit of tartness. Towards the end I get a really slight amount of alcohol followed by some more and sweet and tart flavors and a sweet, bready, and citrusy aftertaste. I really like the flavor of this beer, it had all those normal Saison flavors they just stuck out more and were much bolder I really liked that.

M- Pretty smooth, slightly creamy, crisp, on the thicker side of being medium bodied, and it had a lower amount of medium carbonation that worked well with this beer. The mouthfeel is nice, it's much bigger then your normal Saison, but so is this beer, so it's needs a bigger body, it works out well.

Overall I really liked this beer and I thought it was a good example of a Saison, specifically the higher alcohol or Imperial Saisons, I haven't had many but this beer had all the nice flavors and aromas that I want from the style just way more intense. This beer had great drinkability, it's a bigger beer but the alcohol hardly shows, it goes down smooth, and has more then enough flavor to hold my attention, I wouldn't mind drinking on a four pack on hot day. What I liked most about this beer was pretty much every thing, but I thought the aroma and taste stuck as being especially good. What I liked least about this beer was nothing, I couldn't find one flaw with this beer and that doesn't happen very often, but I do wish it was a little cheaper and that this was a year round beer and not a limited release. I would buy this beer again, it's a little expensive but worth the price, in fact I will be picking up a four pack before this great beer disappears. If you like Saison's, but want something a little stronger with bigger flavors this beer is for you. I thought the first beer in the series was just ok, but Brewery Vivant really took it to the next level with this beer and it is pretty much everything I would want in a Super Saison, I might even try holding on to a can for a while to see if any of those light funky flavors get any stronger. Brewery Vivant did a great job with this beer and I can't wait to see what else they have in store for this series, I hope a Quad and Tripel show up in the near future, great job guys this is one awesome Super Saison. 2014 Update, so I did end up aging a few of these for a year and it got a little funkier and the spices really dropped off, I like it, but it's a different beer from when it was fresh. I might try aging one even longer to see what happens.

Photo of MichPaul
4.38/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I haven't had many Belgian beers, and hadn't been a fan of the style too much, but this beer is impressive!
This beer, as with all BV offerings, comes in a nice tall 1Pint can. It pours a nice golden color, with a nice medium head.
The smell isn't that impressive, but I can look past that when this taste hits me.
As for this taste, it's a perfect blend of citrus, hops and a bit of sour! The scary thing about this beer is how easy it is to drink with such a high ABV. And it's delicious too!
It's too bad this is a limited release in cans. I will be buying more of this, as well as looking for it at the brewery someday.

Photo of MadScientist
4.33/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I stop by Vivant on my way back from a wedding and had to pick up some samples
This pours a slightly haze deep gold. The rocky white head fizzles away quickly like half an alka selyzelter.

The aroma is like orange, apricot and with some spice which is mostly pepper and something else. There is some low spicy hop aromas and some alcohol in the nose.

Wow it's like a hug hit to the palate with big thick layers of fruit and spicy the dominate flavors being orange, apricot and pepper. There is a moderately high bitterness and a fairly firm tartness like there tasting like they had used some orange peel. There is that belgian yeast quality in there with a hint of sourness. The hop type bitterness really hang in there after the fairly dry finish.

It a little thick for a Saison style with a medium-heavy body and high carbonation.

I didn't know what to think of with an Imperial Saison other than that sounds like a great idea. This really fits that description, it an assertive bold beer with the Saison characteristics amped up a few notches. It's a great concept and it's well executed.

Photo of BBP
4.32/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours golden-orange with thin head, but excellent lacing.

The aroma is fruity with subtle spice. Ever so slightly peppery. Very refreshing.

The taste is incredibly smooth considering the 9.0% ABV. This is perhaps one of the easiest beers to drink in that regard. Lemon and orange come through accompanied by a bit of hoppy citrus. After that fades away a bit of pine seeps through. The spices are very minimal while complimenting the drink quite well. Usually I find spices to be overdone, but this beer works incredibly well. Some mild funk is inside of this, and it has a bit of vinegar acidity at times.

The mouthfeel is quite smooth while having ample carbonation. The nature of the carbonation isn't one bit aggressive though. The finish is moderately dry and slightly sticky.

Overall, this was a very interesting brew. The "imperial" aspect of this saison is mostly noticeable in the slightly reinforced flavor, but the drinkability takes no hit whatsoever. I'll definitely stock up the next time that I see it.

Photo of breakingbland
4.19/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 1 pint can with a scant head that quickly dissipated. The beer is slightly cloudy with a golden hue. The aroma is full of funk and barnyard with slight sweetness that includes some fruit. The taste is a downplayed version of the aroma with funk and sweetness predominating. There is a slight but pleasant sourness along with some orange sweetness and pepper. All elements of the taste are in good balance. Even with the high ABV, there is no alcohol burn. The beer has a perfect carb bite and an appropriate body.

Overall, this is one of my favorites of this style. (It definitely helps me in overcoming any prejudice I have against cans.) I will get this one again!

Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.18/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can opened on 5.8.14

A - Pours a cloudy medium orange with a large light tan head that fades slowly.

S - Saison yeast, citrus orange, peppery.

T - Very orange and bright, a hint of pepper in the finish.

D - Light body with good carbonation.

O - Light and very orange heavy. Good stuff.

Photo of liamt07
3.88/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz can from the brewery. Alcohol content and can label matches this listing as opposed to the other "Super" Saison. Into a tulip. An imperial saison with tellicherry black peppercorns and orange peel.

Unfiltered orange body with a finger and a bit of white head. Light retention but good lacing. Not a whole bunch stands out in the nose, some citrus peel, a bit of yeast, subtle wheat and grains with a hint of spice. Taste has more prominent orange peel character, citrus and some orange juice 'pulpiness.' Alcohol, wheat and finishes spicy and yeasty. Fairly big body, substantial density. Moderate effervescence. Simple and fruity, but doesn't hold a candle to Avec les Bon Voeux in terms of an imperial saison. Still good however.

Photo of Bitterbill
3.85/5  rDev +5.8%

16 ounce can thanks to Trent!

It pours a hazy straw colour and brings a 1 finger head of foam. Lacing aplenty.

My, I sure can smell the orange peel. Other spices, but no real funk showing up for me.

Orange way up front in the taste too. It seems to bring some sweet and tart notes unless something else is doing the former or latter. A bit of pepper starts to show up after my 3rd sip. Tellicherry black peppercorns? Okay, I had to google that. Imparts floral and cherry flavours. 'splains a lot!

Medium bodied, medium carbonation, it starts of with the orange and finishes with it. There's not much heat from the alcohol or the peppercorns. It isn't the easiest brew to drink but it's enjoyable. I guess, my bottom line is...do "we" have to imperialize every style?

Photo of Etan
3.82/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

16oz can into a tulip.

A: Pours a glowing golden-orange with a thick white head.

S: Heavy yeast, orange peel, sweet pale malt in the nose. Very citrusy.

T: Taste brings more bright orange and lemon zest notes, cakey maltiness, some mild stone fruit esters, tart edge. The peppercorns are subtle but provide a bit of spicy warmth on the palate.

M: Medium-bodied with light yet crisp carbonation.

O: Not bad. I wouldn't mind drinking this every once in a while.

Photo of Mikus
3.81/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

9% saison? Huh? Poured pale and minimally carbonated (with some lemon yellow highlights in the light). Bright fruity esters on the nose, mild peppery note. Overall a light, airy nose that came off as extremely clean. Big peach/apricot type sweetness up front leading into the spiciness of the yeast towards the aftertaste. Came together particularly well as the glass warmed. Spot on mouthfeel. Don't know how to explain it... but this managed to feel Imperial and substantial while still maintaining the prickly and ephemeral notes of the style. Another tasty Brewery Vivant beer... can't wait for these to continue getting better and better.

Photo of JohnnyHopps
3.79/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a can into a mini-snifter, Zaison was a handsome copper color with a slight white head. The aroma was rather underwhelming with a mild grainy aroma. Nothing in the aroma would suggest this to be a special beer. In the initial taste, one gets lemon, a grassy orange taste, mild pepper, and a faint twang of barnyard funk. In the aftertaste, the ale evolves into a sour grassy taste. Toward the end of the glass, I believe I detected a little heat. The thickness of the saison was on par, allowing the funk to linger in the mouth. Though unspectacular, this is very drinker. "Imperial" suggests something to be amped up, but there is little about this that seems amped up. Overall, a very drinkable saison.

Photo of dudecandle
3.78/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Beautiful orange color, but the fluffy head dissipates quite quickly.

S: Something of an applewood smell, between the citrus and the Belgian yeast. Relatively one-note.

T: Lovely fresh orange citrus with a good dose of grass. It has a long-rolling finish of black pepper and the Belgian yeast. A bit boozy and almost lemonadey.

M: Surprisingly full, even once the carbonation dies down.

D: The flavor doesn't develop to be terribly complex, but I think it's one of the best citrusy punches I've come across in a while. If the carbonation would hold a bit longer, I think this would be a very impressive beer. The high alcohol is impressively not noticeable. As of now, it's still quite good, but it perhaps doesn't quite live up to its price tag.

Photo of 71CrazyOtto
3.77/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Image of beer can here has changed to yellow/orange hue.
Bought the 4-pack and sessioned it.
First experience with a heavy peppercorn assault on my palate not including a dead cow on my plate and it took some getting used to but after first beer my palate shouted uncle and they went down smooth. The Tellicherry black peppercorns concealed the 9% well I will say that.
I view this as a bold attempt by a brewer and I salute the effort.
This beer isn't a home run but I would try again but I wouldn't drink through a whole 4-pack again because the famous india peppercorn had me dreaming of multiple arm hindus and sound of sitars...most unpleasant, lol.

Photo of hosehead83
3.75/5  rDev +3%

Poured from can into a tulip glass.
Cloudy apricot in color, with a nice cap of bone-white foam.
Aroma-Toasted malt, orchard fruit
Taste-Sweet toasted malt,honeyed peach, very faint spiciness, sweet finish.

Photo of maxcoinage
3.73/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

16oz can to Duvel Tulip, 2 finger fluffy white head, left some lacing, settling at a moderate pace. beer is a dark orange color

As I was pouring the can I could smell the yeast - belgian frutiness, hay/straw, a little bit of orange

fruity, slightly sweet, pepper, estery, some orange . orange not as much as i was thinking itd be,maybe ill add a slice for the next one to pump it up

good carbonation, medium body, finishes dry

solid brew, easy drinking, and will sneak up on you at 9%! not sure i'd purchase again given the price tag ( almost 17 after tax for a 4 pack of 16oz ), but enjoyed nonetheless and glad i tried it

Photo of SerialTicker
3.73/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

My very first Saison -- $4.29 16oz can bought and poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint ... no canning date.

Appearance: A very hazy yellow-orange color, with a tiny head that bubbles away quickly. Pretty significant, noticeable alcohol legs. The carbonation is insane on this one (I'm not sure if that's normally how Saisons are), as it sounds like pop being poured into a glass. Extremely active carbonation at the bottom of the glass. Once I got the whole can into the glass, the carbonation went down a little bit, and the appearance changed.

Smell: I definitely get the yeast in the aroma with some sort of citrus (probably the orange). The funk from the yeast is definitely the most obvious though.

Taste/feel: Being my first Saison, I didn't know what to expect. At first when I poured the beer, it had a SLIGHT haze with very high carbonation. Once I poured the bottom of the can into my glass, it changed quite a bit -- the carbonation mellowed out a touch, the beer got a lot hazier, and the taste changed just a tick. The sourness comes throughout the entire sip, which I guess is supposed to happen with Saisons -- along with that, there's a LOT of the orange flavor that's mentioned on the label. As far as peppercorns, it's there SLIGHTLY on the finish, and in the fact that Zaison should maybe make your throat burn a bit on the swallow... well, that, and the alcohol. I really find that this almost drinks like some sort of energy drink with its pretty dominant sour orange flavor and high carbonation. It's interesting as hell.

Zaison is strangely compelling. From what I read about Saisons, this is what I expected. I don't know if they all drink just like this one, but this one truly tastes like it could be an energy drink, even with the slight boozy flavor. While I'm not too sure I'd pick this up for the price of $4.29 a pint can, I definitely do quite enjoy it -- it's definitely unlike any beer I've had before, but that's more than likely just because it's a Saison. If I'm looking for a beer that's a little bit different, this one would be on my radar. Solid beer, even though a pint can might just be a tad too much.

Photo of tone77
3.71/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A thanks to the creator of the canquest, woodychandler, for this beer. Poured from a 16 oz. can. Has a light copper color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell has some spice, funky, a bit different. Taste is yeast, oranges, spices, alcohol is present, balanced and tasty. Feels ,medium bodied in the mouth and overall is a unique and solid beer.

Photo of TreyIsWilson
3.69/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Pours a cloudy golden orange with a two-finger foamy white head.

S - Yeast, orange peel, and light sweet malts.

T - Taste is sweet juicy orange juice mixed with the bitterness from the orange peel. Finish has a nice yeast flavor and a lingering bite from the peppercorns.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Dry finish.

O - This was a nice surprise. Could have used a little more carbonation, but still rather good.

Photo of zeledonia
3.66/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to GRPunk for the BIF beer. Tasted 5 July 2014.

Pours a clear medium golden yellow. Two fingers of fuzzy white head, good retention and lacing.

Smell is powerfully citrusy. That's the prominent character - a sweet, juicy citrus presence. I don't get much funk or spice, despite what the can says.

Taste is odd for a saison. It's quite sweet, and very fruity. Almost like a shandy. Doesn't have the zip or the dryness I expect. Tasty enough, just a little weird.

Feel is good. Medium body, fizzy carbonation that reminds me (again) of a soda or shandy.

Good beer, like a jacked-up shandy or a very fruity saison. The citrus is too powerful for my tastes, making it hard for me to pick up on subtler elements.

Photo of korguy123
3.65/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can into tumbler.
Special thanks to TheSevenDuffs for this.

A- Hazy golden coloured pour with a two finger white head that doesn't stick around too much. Lacing is minimal.

S- Spicy yeast, a touch of buttered popcorn, pepper and oranges.

T- Spicy yeast again, peppercorns, orange juice and pulp, some apples and pears.

M- Light bodied, prickly carbonation.

Photo of Jason
3.62/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

16oz tallboy can with no freshness date.

LOOK: Bright golden, lacing on the glass, thin head

SMELL: Agave, peppercorns, citrus peel, quince paste, tartness, herbal, alcohol, poppy seeds, crackers, yeast

TASTE: Slick, crisp, tart, bitter, peppery, faint fusel, citrus peel, earthy, phenolic, herbal, nutty yeast, pineapple, applebutter, broth, peppery drying finish

Very bold and does not wait around to take over my palate. Peppercorn is a the perfect level though it too more than a few sips for this one to turn around, thankfully it did and ends up being pretty good.

Photo of tectactoe
3.61/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours golden with a hint of orange. Hazy, with a nice-sized white head. No lacing to speak of. The nose is full of wheat, orange zest, lemon peels, herbal spiced tea. The taste hits with background notes of banana and clove, along with nice warming alcohol. Peppery spices, lemon herbs, and pineapple really come through about halfway into the sip. The aftertaste leaves the palette with a slightly bready and sweet malty flavor with a touch of bitterness and sweet fruity esters. Slight hint of floral notes in the background, but hard to notice. Medium body with sharp carbonation.

My first saison. Tasty brew here, although it's hard to compare to other saisons since this is my first one. Based off of this one, the Belgian style is noticeable, but I would prefer a Belgian strong ale or dubel/tripel over this type.

Photo of woodychandler
3.54/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

If you are ever in the Chicagoland and CAN get to one of their locations, Binney's Liquors remains a CANQuest (TM) source nonpareil! This was a recent score.

From the CAN: "Special Limited Release"; "Freshly Brewed in Michigan"; "Imperial Saison Ale Beer brewed with tellicherry black peppercorns and orange peel"; "WHY USE CANS? We set out to build a sustainable brewery and found through our research that cans are a better option than bottles. Cans are much lighter in weight, contain more recycled content, are able to be up-cycled, and use less energy to produce. The canning line also has a much smaller footprint than a bottling line. If this was not enough, cans provide better protection from flavor degenerating oxygen and hop flavor robbing sunlight. This is the best package we can provide to bring our beer to you, tasting the way the brewer intended it. Enjoy."; "IMPERIAL SAISON ALE Zaison takes its name from the famous Saison style of beer made in the southern rgion of Belgium. Traditionally this beer is made in the coolness of the winter months to be enjoyed in the Spring and Summer. Our interpretation uses a special yeast strain that gives this beer a little funkiness and is accented with tellicherry black peppercorns and orange peel."; "COMPLIMENTARY FOODS Barbecue, curried mussels, hard salumi, farm cheeses or aged gouda."; "GLASSWARE A tulip glass provides the right shape to capture the spicy aromas and maintain a rich head on the beer."

My Crack once again revealed a brimful CAN that gave us a mild spritz and caused me to again await some settling. The Glug produced two fingers of bone-white head with decent retention. Color was a deep-gold with NE-quality and King Midas, Croesus and Mammon all suddenly appeared to begin fighting for a taste. Up those guys! The Old Lady and I had drinking to do! Mouthfeel was medium, approaching full and the taste had a tartness to it that I was not really expecting. The CAN mentioned "tellicherry black peppercorns and orange peel" so it may have been the CANbination of the two or their interaction with the yeast, but this was odd in terms of taste. Finish was dry and it was here that the peppercorns really came into vogue. I would have said something about black pepper anyway, but since they cop to it, who would I be to disagree?

Photo of SportsandJorts
3.53/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: light straw yellow color. two fingers of a white head that fade pretty quickly and leaves just about nothing behind. hazy and nearly opaque.

Smell: agave and citrus. pepper, some yeasty qualities.

Taste: opens with a little bit of agave, some pepper and spicy yeast. back end is full of orange and bitter citrus.

Mouthfeel: medium to heavy. pretty strong dryness. some lingering bitterness.

Overall: a pretty good offering from Vivant but misses some of the qualities that I enjoy in a saison. worth a try but I don't think Ill be visiting it again too soon.

Photo of david131
3.5/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a clear yellow liquid with a thin and splotchy white head. Simple and clean looking.

S- Peppercorns jump out to me first, followed by some light fruitiness and alcohol. A little faint but slightly intriguing.

T- Light fruit and some peppercorns. The malt sweetness is kept in check, but it is most definitely lacking complexity.

M- Warm alcohol presence, but it is not hot. The carbonation is about right and the flavors are a bit sticky and linger for awhile.

O- For the style, this is nothing to write home about. However, it drinks pretty nicely on a hot summer night, even when the alcohol content is taken into account.

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Zaison Imperial Saison Ale from Brewery Vivant
82 out of 100 based on 163 ratings.