Best American-Brewed Saisons?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Ilovelampandbeer, Apr 9, 2015.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Dansac

    Dansac Initiate (138) Dec 6, 2014 California

  2. Plower

    Plower Initiate (0) Nov 23, 2014 Texas

  3. Kurmaraja

    Kurmaraja Initiate (0) May 21, 2013 California

    Sigh, this thread.

    "Show me a European saison on the level of Hill-Farmstead"
    "OK, how about BFM XV - 4.2 with 427 reviews - compared to, say, Nordic Saison - 4.21 with 392 reviews. That's on the same level, right?"
    "Sounds too untested."

    It's clearly on the same level. The BFM brewer trained as a oenologist, they're known for being going beyond stylistic quidelines / incorporating innovative ingredients, they make the second highest rated Biere de Garde on this site (right behind Hill Farmstead), and they've been around since 1997 ... quite a bit longer than all the American breweries doing saisons. A beer any saison lover should really want to try.

    Why ask for info if you're just going to reject it out of hand? The BFM XV saison is spitting distance rating wise to Nordic, E., Handfarm, Hibernal Dichotomous, Oak Aged Bretta, Surette, and many of the American favorites people mention. BFM is a favorite brewery of Jester King; they always have BFM bottles on their menu. In fact, all the American brewers making the beers you think are awesome are "turncoats".

    It's OK to just say, eh, I'm not interested in branching out; I like what I have. But why say American Saisons crush European Saisons, clearly if they were good I'd try them ... and then admit you haven't tried most of the highly rated ones, don't know anything about them, and think drinking them would be Un-American? They're untested, they're not fresh, you can't pronounce the names, Swiss people are socialists, Belgian's smell funny ...

    My last "beating a dead horse" post!
  4. 77black_ships

    77black_ships Initiate (0) Dec 4, 2012 Belgium

    I have had that beer, I cannot say that I was crazy about it. BFM Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien beers on the other hand are wonderful. A lot of their beers in the past had clear issues, I am not sure about the current situation, in recent times I haven’t tried any non-sour / non-wild style beers from them.

    USA saisons are vastly different from what people make in Belgium. Saison is only made by a handful brewers. I would say that people in the USA have a far too romanticized view of what saisons are in Belgium. This romantic view has led to incredible beers. The kind of beers that USA brewers make in the saison category in the USA don’t exist in Belgium.

    My favourite USA saisons:

    Upright Flora Rustica (Barrel Aged)
    Perennial Saison de Lis
    Hill Farmstead / Blaugies Le Sarrasin
    Grassroots Convivial Suarez
    Stillwater Stateside Saison
    Almost anything Jester King
    JackHorzempa and Kurmaraja like this.
  5. Plower

    Plower Initiate (0) Nov 23, 2014 Texas

    An oenologist? This is Beeradvocate, not Wineadvocate, but sometimes I think it is Whineadvocate when you guys are digging into my posts. Guys, I might have asked for the evidence but that doesn't mean I'm going to blindly accept it. I've had my share of European brews. I'll tell you this, freshness is everything. Some guys on here don't realize they are drinking skunky European beer, they just think it's part of the flavor. But let me tell you something, I check everything. I have ways to estimate how much a beer was handled or if it was improperly stored. That's not to the fault of the brewer, but just the nature of a global market. You bring a beer from Europe to America, you better find a way to keep it as fresh tasting as the home brews.

    Not only do European Saisons lack freshness, they also lack ingenuity. They tend to stick to tradition and not tweak the flavors when as times change. Shaun Hill at Hill Farmstead is an innovator. I can't say the same for the Euro brews, who promote that the recipe is the same for 100s of years. How do you know Jester King doesn't leave them on the menu so they can outdo them? If BFM was selling more than their own beers they wouldn't be making money...that's how economics works.
  6. BMMillsy

    BMMillsy Initiate (0) Feb 16, 2012 Florida

    I'd say the Brett version is preferable in my book. But they recently released a Brett Triple IPA Aged in Rum Barrels that I would honestly put under the (rather heavy) Saison category, and as strange as it sounds, it was excellent.

    Anchorage Love Buzz Saison is a comparable beer to this one, and is probably my favorite brett beer. Also a nice one on the heavier side.

    Bruery Saison de Lente and Boulevard Tank 7 are easily my favorites in the style, though. And they're pretty easy to find.
  7. Dansac

    Dansac Initiate (138) Dec 6, 2014 California

    Yeah, maybe if you actually tried the beer as opposed to just read the reviews your take might be interesting.

    Reviews are unreliable. Hannepin is more highly rated than the BFM, and that's, well, just silly.
    Kurmaraja likes this.
  8. Kurmaraja

    Kurmaraja Initiate (0) May 21, 2013 California

    You're right! Adrienne Ballou, head of the barrel program at Jester King, studied viticulture. So though she may actually think that BFM swill tastes good, it's actually an elaborate troll by jester king. "Let's sell trash beers so ours taste better! Let's hire someone with a background in wine to prove that winemakers have no business in the beer industry!" Cory King's initial desire to be a winemaker was, naturally, his downfall.

    It's so obvious now that you pointed it out I'm embarrassed I previously tried to keep an open mind about European upstarts. I even took American brewers enthusiasm for European beers at face value! What a fool. I'm not even gonna drink wine barrel aged beers anymore. That taint is a slippery slope away from beer.
    TheeWalrusHunter likes this.
  9. Dansac

    Dansac Initiate (138) Dec 6, 2014 California

    You sure read more than you drink, buddy.
    Kurmaraja likes this.
  10. Domestic4life

    Domestic4life Initiate (0) Apr 13, 2015

    There's no question that Cooked Stave goes best with the BBQ corn nuts. Crooked Stave has great flavor. It is a top of the line saison in my opinion. I still taste that great flavor long after I slam the bottle down to the floor.
  11. JFear

    JFear Initiate (0) Jun 18, 2014 Virginia

    I'm honestly taken aback at how good Smartmouth Saison is. Most American breweries try make a tribute to Saison DuPont with their saison. Smartmouth does it better than most.
  12. PorterPro125

    PorterPro125 Champion (849) Jan 19, 2013 Canada (NB)

    I've never had anything by Allagash Brewing Co. or Maine Brewing Co. but I understand that they both make excellent Saisons.
  13. indesertum

    indesertum Initiate (0) Apr 5, 2009 New York

    i feel like the american saisons everybody is talking about are very different from classic european saisons. they should really be called something else.

    to me classic saisons tend to be dry and have this lemony, peppery note and are more spicy than fruity. a lot of the american saisons everybody has mentioned are sweeter, fruitier, much much more sour, and richer with less of that spicy character. a lot of them also use brett and add bacteria which is rarer in europe. i think BJCP asks saisons with brett in it to be classified as a wild ale. classic to me is like HF/Blaugies vermontoise, hennepin (from the states) or saison dupont, fantome saison (belgium).

    you really can't ask what european saison is better than love buzz saison, crooked staves stuff, the logsdon stuff and then bring up ratings when they're generally very different in style.

    if we're talking classic saisons recent favorites have been the les caves saison and upright ones. a little grainier and creamier than traditional, but still with that rich lemon pepper type taste.

    anyways, this talk of "best saisons" or "european saisons that are better than american ones" seems pretty silly to me even if somewhat entertaining.
    Kurmaraja likes this.
  14. Plower

    Plower Initiate (0) Nov 23, 2014 Texas

    Oh yeah!! Crooked Stave makes man beer, and in Texas that's what we need with our corn nuts. I'm the type of guy who is happy with an 8 dollar bottle of St. Bretta by Crooked Stave or a 1 dollar twenty five cent bottle of good ol Shiner Bock. Thats because I know that the corn nuts are gonna go down nice and smooth as long as I got the beer department covered. Saisons and BBQ corn nuts are like a match made in heaven.
  15. readyski

    readyski Aspirant (269) Jun 4, 2005 California

    My favs are the Saison Bretts by Logsdon and Boulevard. Okay Saison Rue can join also.
  16. Kurmaraja

    Kurmaraja Initiate (0) May 21, 2013 California

    Jester King's El Cedro. Hands down. That woody / smokey note and a good dose of hoppy bitterness is a perfect foil for the salty / sweet. I suppose one could argue for their Salt Lick beer, but El Cedro is far superior.
  17. RBassSFHOPit2ME

    RBassSFHOPit2ME Initiate (0) Mar 1, 2009 California

    Brasserie St. James. Reno, NV kills that style.
  18. 77black_ships

    77black_ships Initiate (0) Dec 4, 2012 Belgium

    The question is what is a classic saison? Is it Saison Dupont or the beers from the first half of 20th century which no one is really sure how they tasted like? Different people define it differently. Saison Dupont tastes completely different from every other saison in the 1970s from what I have heard.

    I once had a bottle from an extinct sasion brewery from the 1970s that tasted unlike any other saison I have ever tried. According to the guy who brought it, it held up well, was that a traditional saison?

    I have never heard of a non-USA brewer following BJCP guidelines. They are an attempt at classification post-fact, using it as a rule book to understand European tradition makes no sense in my opinion.

    I however do agree that 2 different styles of saisons have come to exist. 1) Beers that are like what Dupont makes & 2) All the fruit, brett, barrel,… USA style stuff.
    JackHorzempa, utopiajane and zid like this.
  19. beergeekofkp

    beergeekofkp Initiate (0) Apr 6, 2015 New York

    tank 7! cheers!
  20. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,874) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    “The question is what is a classic saison?”

    That is indeed a good question. It is also a question that lacks an unambiguous answer.

    The word “classic” is similar to the word “traditional”. BAs will utilize the word “traditional” to describe a certain beer style with no specific mention of a time period or location. For example, what is a “traditional” Marzen/Oktoberfest beer? Is it the beer that was brewed in 1810 for the first celebration on the Theresienwiese? Is it the amber colored beers that were served at the Oktoberfest celebrations of a few decades ago? Is it the pale colored beer that is served at the contemporary Oktoberfest celebrations?

  21. hunninghake

    hunninghake Initiate (0) Nov 21, 2005 Colorado

    <----- THIS!
    mikepcarney likes this.
  22. jcos

    jcos Initiate (0) Nov 23, 2009 Maryland

    Tank 7.

    Not a huge sour/brett fan and appreciate stuff actually that can be bought at a store.
  23. Phigg1102

    Phigg1102 Initiate (0) Sep 29, 2013 New York

    Logsdon Seizone Brett was superb. Tank Seven and HFS Arthur are also two of my favorites in the US.
  24. SABERG

    SABERG Poo-Bah (2,613) Sep 16, 2007 Massachusetts

    I very much appreciate and value.
    Saison Bernice
    Allagash Saison
  25. Kurmaraja

    Kurmaraja Initiate (0) May 21, 2013 California

    Cheers on bring up Upright. Biased, perhaps, but I feel they deserve top tier mention along with the HFs, SARAs, Caseys of the US. They tend to do more in the herbal realm and a lot of their really wacky stuff - the Sole Comps - barely make it out of Portland being anywhere from 40 - 200 bottles. But the Flora Rustica, BA Flora Rustica, Anniversary Saison, and many more are world class.

    Commons from Portland is doing some good work in that realm as well - Maybelle for example (I've heard the newsest batch is better than previous, and previous batches aged really nicely). Expect to see more from them now that they've expanded.

    Also notable is that bottles from both of these breweries are great value. $8 - $15ish for 750s.
  26. beermeplz

    beermeplz Aspirant (278) Feb 13, 2015 California

    I'm partial to funky and/or sour saisons/farmhouse ales, so my post will reflect that.

    Just had Prairie Eliza5beth last night...great stuff, well balanced with just the right amount of sour and funk...more complex than a lot of others out there.

    On a more local level, Shady Oak Barrel House is just getting started and putting out some really funky stuff.

    I've also had a couple exceptional ones from Tahoe Mountain Brewing (esp. Viejo Rojo)
  27. indesertum

    indesertum Initiate (0) Apr 5, 2009 New York

    just because non USA brewers don't follow BJCP guidelines it doesn't mean that using BJCP guidelines for classification makes no sense. and of course it's going to be a classification post-fact. what else would it be? i brought up BJCP guidelines as one point in my argument that there are two major umbrella categories of saisons.

    i don't understand what point you're trying to make by bringing up one random saison from the 1970s. if it didn't taste like a traditional saison then it probably wasn't?

    i'm not saying all european saisons are the same nor am i saying all US saisons are the same. i'm saying there are two major categories that taste really different and that trying to compare the two seems an exercise in futility

    but i'm glad we can agree on my basic premise

    i defined what i meant by "classic saison". i realize you're railing on the usage of the term classic in general, but it seems pretty irrelevant here. i don't understand the need for a requirement to define a style by time period. it seems oddly nitpicky and unnecessary.

    if i went to a bar and asked for a beer like saison dupont the bartender would understand what the hell i'm talking about. and if i asked for a beer like love buzz saison i would get a recommendation for a different type of beer

    I haven't had sour saisons from upright so I can't comment on what tier they belong in, but I do like what they're doing. thanks for the recs. i haven't really been impressed with commons so far, but i'll keep an eye out for maybelle.
  28. 77black_ships

    77black_ships Initiate (0) Dec 4, 2012 Belgium

    Saisons in the 1970s tasted different from 1900 – 1950s saisons as far as I can tell. That is why I brought up that one. There was a saison style post the farmland period & pre Dupont.

    I do agree indeed with the basic premise.

    You refer to Saison Dupont as a classic saison. Jester King and many other breweries refer to wild beers with local ingredients etc. when they talk about saions etc. Classic has clearly come to mean two different things here. Funny thing about Saison Dupont is, most USA saisons don’t imitate it & in Belgium it was always something unique. Saison Dupont isn’t like Westmalle Tripel, no one seems to bend on imitating it, other than keeping the idea of saisons alive maybe, it appears to have nothing to do with the rest of the style. I think that even if the brewery had gone bankrupt it might have changed nothing. It isn’t unlike any other classic.

    P.S.: Only had 3 Upright saisons so far but I seem to quite like them.
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  29. Chinon01

    Chinon01 Initiate (0) Jan 23, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Victory Helios ($3.99 for a 25oz bottle btw)
    Southampton Saison
    zid likes this.
  30. indesertum

    indesertum Initiate (0) Apr 5, 2009 New York

    yeah maybe classic is the wrong term. i mean something more like belgian or european saison vs sour american saison. a lot of belgian saisons have an element of sour to it, but americans really take it to the next level. i still kinda think belgian saisons are more traditional and older than super sour american ones, but ok

    i don't understand why you would say that nobody imitates the dupont style in europe and it makes me think that you really don't what you're talking about. there are a ton (at least relatively in terms of proportions because there are a lot more american breweries). besides fantome and dupont, there's bocq, brasserie a vapeur, brasserie de legendes, lefebvre, and ellezeloise. they're not the same, but they're pretty much variations on the same theme. i'm sure there's more that don't get imported but it's not a unique style and dupont is certainly not the prototype just the more common available one (and imo better one).

    i honestly like the house saison at block 15 more than upright but i feel like there's batch variations because some batches are more fantastic than others.
  31. crazycatcouple

    crazycatcouple Initiate (0) Mar 26, 2015 Arizona

    another vote here for funkwerks saison
  32. JDbudget87

    JDbudget87 Initiate (0) Oct 9, 2014 Arkansas

    Tank 7 is my favorite, no question. It's on my "always buy when you see it in a store" list because finding it around here can be a bit difficult at times. I also like Prairie.
  33. JonathanB

    JonathanB Initiate (0) Nov 5, 2013 California

    Hill Farmstead
    Side Project
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.