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Zaison Imperial Saison Ale - Brewery Vivant

Not Rated.
Zaison Imperial Saison AleZaison Imperial Saison Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

43 Reviews

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Reviews: 43
Hads: 171
Avg: 3.55
pDev: 16.06%
Wants: 7
Gots: 16 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 43 | Hads: 171
Photo of GRG1313
2.5/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Gold white color with light white head. Orange/light toast nose. Very big and bold flavors but not pleasing - sour in a weird "not supposed to be sour" kind of way. Tastes like spoiled oranges. No need to try again.

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Photo of Thorpe429
2.32/5  rDev -34.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to my parents for picking up this can. Pours a golden-orange color with a good white head and some lacing. The nose carries some peppercorn and a bit of citrus. Some alcohol present. Earthy as well. A bit too mixed and muddled. Flavor has spice and citrus. Again, too much going on without being integrated. Medium body with spice and some alcohol.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.01/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Served in a Lagunitas mason jar.

Shit, we can barely pronounce this style properly, now these guys wanna go and alter the spelling here? We're screwed... Anyway, this stuff pours a cloudy sunset golden-auburn topped by over a finger of lightly off-white foam. The nose comprises banana peel, orange peel, black pepper, and plenty of white grape skin. The taste brings in more of the same, with less banana and a a strong vein of caramel and sweet biscuit. The body is a light-leaning medium, with a very light moderate carbonation and a slick feel. Overall, I found this stuff to be too sweet and too, well, boring for its own good, coming across more like a mildly Belgian-inspired amber ale than a saison. Sadly, another letdown from the former shining light of Vivant.

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Photo of Jason
3.62/5  rDev +2%
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.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.54/5  rDev -0.3%
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?

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Photo of liamt07
3.88/5  rDev +9.3%
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.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.28/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Can to Duvel tulip.

A - Cloudy orange/yellow colour. One finger of off-white head that reduced to a film on top of the beer.

S - Big grassy aroma up front with a sweet bready malt backbone that has a touch of caramel coming through as well.

T - Fairly big tartness up front that was unexpected but settles down after a few sips. A fairly prominent hop bitterness is present with some grassy, herbal and floral flavours. The malt backbone is fairly prominent as well, adding some sweet caramel and bready notes.

M - Medium body with a fairly big chew. Light carbonation.

O - This one is a touch strange but interesting in its own way.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

16oz can picked up at Oades... Pours hazed dark golden... short lasting white head leaves no lacing.

Nose is slightly spicy.. tons of fruit that reminds me of overripe apples.. dried apricots... and rotting peaches.

Flavor is heavy fruitiness... peppercorns come out swinging a bit mid palate but are KO by the fruity esters... tastes like apricot nectar with a metallic twinge... sweet and not "malty", just sweet..

Carbonation is too light... body is entirely too heavy... not "too heavy for a saison", just too heavy in general... Thankfully, I had a good fella to share this with or it would have been 8oz down the drain... Sorry... This needs a TON of work. Not even close to a Saison... Sorry.

All 3's and that is generous.

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Photo of aasher
3.11/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This was courtesy of a coworker, thanks Will!

This beer pours a light bodied, very cloudy bright gold in color with a one finger bright white head. The nose smells of slightly sweet creamed corn, bitter citrus peel, and citrusy Belgian yeast character. The nose wasn't what I expected. The corn aspect threw me for a loop. The flavors feature slightly sweet pale malt, light Belgian yeast, citrus, an odd creamed corn character, and perhaps some grainy notes. It's different. There is a touch of alcohol in the flavors as well. It drinks light and is relatively easy to drink. Despite the odd nose and flavor it isn't off putting, it just means it isn't necessarily traditional and I wouldn't really recommend trying it. It's ok.

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Photo of ppoitras
3.01/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

16oz can received via Growling at the Moon from Stonequarrywest. Thanks for the brew, Gabe!

Poured into an imperial pint with a 3/4" blonde head over the cloudy golden brew. Head dwindles gradually, with thick coating lace. Aroma is tart with spices.

Taste starts spicy, comes on strong in the middle with the sour grapes, which carry through the close, where the spicing tries to overcome, but cannot. Mouthfeel is pretty smooth, if you can ignore the tartness, and drinkability is ok. Would make for an ok thirst-quencher, but the abv isn't agreeing too well with that idea. Not what I was really expecting.

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Photo of tone77
3.71/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.85/5  rDev +8.5%

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?

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.18/5  rDev +17.7%
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.

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Photo of barnzy78
3.34/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

16oz can, a copper colored ale with a bubbly, white head, loads of carbonation to keep the head afloat. Bready and yeasty aroma with orange and booze. At initial sip, it's boozy and hot, with orange rind, bready malt, yeast, peppery, and fruity. Full bodied, but not how I want a saison, plenty of carbonation only makes it feel fuller - too full. I get where they were going with this - a huge saison, but it's too bold. One and done here. I wouldn't get this again.

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Photo of tectactoe
3.61/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

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Photo of Durge
3.34/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Cold from the one pint can this brew is a clear golden hue with a fair white cover that breaks up quickly and leaves just a scant trace of lacing. The aroma has a distinct apple cider/vinegar, tart with a hint of straw wheat. Not much else. The flavor again hits me with a very tart apple and wheat blend, almost more of a sour rhubarb deal with a little alcohol along the lines of lime gin. If I think "sour" it works better but thinking it's saison on steroids isn't so terrific to me. It finishes with too much booze and loses any of the grainy goodness I associate with great saisons. It has a medium-light body and a somewhat slick watery feel despite a prickly carbonation. Disappointment to me but maybe it's just over my head.

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Photo of StoutHunter
4.39/5  rDev +23.7%
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.

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Photo of hosehead83
3.75/5  rDev +5.6%

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.

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Photo of david131
3.5/5  rDev -1.4%
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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Photo of zeledonia
3.66/5  rDev +3.1%
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.

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Photo of Ryan011235
3.43/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Poured into a Duvel tulip on 7/2/12

Thanks to beesy

A) Cloudy, dull honey tones. Two fingers of foam drops to 1/4th inch layer that remains fed by a stream of rising bubbles. Minimum lace.

S) Quite tangy, almost tart aroma - ripe apple, over ripe pear, peppercorn and some orange zestiness. Prairie grass and floral tones as it warms. Hints of biscuits and dough.

T) The taste is pretty tangy too, but there is a decent grainy presence to balance it out. Mild orange zest, but there is plenty peppercorn spiciness. Some alcohol is picked up toward the finish.

M) The feel is a juicy medium body. Carbonation is ample but not harsh; the overall feel is billowy.

D) Not too bad at all but it's a bit too ripe, as it were.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
4.05/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Undated 16 oz can at 45 degrees into a Brewery Vivant snifter
$ 4.09/16 oz can at the Lager Mill
Aroma of pepper (slight)
Head fizzy, completely gone seconds after pouring, leaving neither head nor lacing nor ring
Lacing – none
Body light orange, chill haze, effervescent
Flavor – slightly sweet, some taste of pepper but only a slight bite, no hint of the orange peel, some estery spiciness present; no particular yeast phenolic taste or aroma, no malt, no hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl. The blend is oddly pleasing and not the typical saison.
Palate light to medium, very thin syrupy texture, lively carbonation

Appearance 3.5, Aroma 3.5, Flavor 4.5, Palate 4, Overall 4

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Photo of Etan
3.82/5  rDev +7.6%
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.

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Photo of dfillius
3.15/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured into a pint glass
A: Gentle pour yields 1/2 finger of tight off-white head with so-so retention. Hazy orange-gold looks like a beautiful IPA. More head please, as it is non-existent after 30 seconds.
S: Orange peel. Slight earthiness. Slightly cheesy. Pleasant but not complex.
T: Alcohol is a bit overpowering. Orange peel is a bit heavy too. Peppercorns are apparent but unfortunately overpowered. Decent but too warm and imbalanced. Tastes more like a cocktail or a Belgian Strong Pale Ale.
M: Very sweet finish, I'd like it to be drier for a saison. A tad cloying. Strong on ethanol, but not boozy.
O: Would not buy again and would not order another. Won't finish this pint probably. Just too alcohol forward and sweet.

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Photo of SerialTicker
3.73/5  rDev +5.1%
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.

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Zaison Imperial Saison Ale from Brewery Vivant
81 out of 100 based on 43 ratings.