Clean Saisons

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by JackRWatkins, Jun 8, 2021.

  1. JackRWatkins

    JackRWatkins Defender (684) Nov 3, 2014 Alabama

    Are you aware of/what do you think of the term "Clean Saison". It's one I've seen pop-up over the past few years, and although I can imagine what it means, I've yet to try a beer that describes itself as such. My assumption is that it's an attempt to draw a distinction between beers that taste like Saison DuPont and beers that taste like Fantôme (ie. extremely funky or sour). First, do I understand this correctly and second, what are people's thoughts on the term. If I understand it correctly, I think there's a whole lot of utility in it.

    I hate buying a saison expecting something more like a DuPont, and getting something more like a Gueuze.
    I love sour beer, but that's not what I want when I buy a saison.
     
  2. dennisthreeninefiveone

    dennisthreeninefiveone Initiate (83) Aug 11, 2020 New Jersey
    Trader

    I've never heard the term before. I would think it's a Saison with no added flavors,
     
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  3. JackRWatkins

    JackRWatkins Defender (684) Nov 3, 2014 Alabama

    By no added flavors, do you mean no adjuncts?
     
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  4. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,007) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    I personally do not use the terminology of “clean Saison” but my interpretation of this would be that it is a Classic Saison. @mrmattosgood in post #928 of the A Salute to Saisons thread asked:

    “When you all are drinking your farmhouse ales, what's your typical go-to, style-wise? Are we talking classic saison yeast? Mixed fermentation? Wild fermentation? If you had one to pick, what would you go with, why?”

    A Classic Saison would be ‘clean’ within the context of not having the attributes that Brett and/or bacteria would bring to a mixed/wild fermented Saison.

    Cheers!
     
  5. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (3,026) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Society Trader

    Clean saison? Haven't heard the term, but it strikes me as being somewhat of an oxymoron, considering the roots of the style.
     
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  6. MrOH

    MrOH Meyvn (1,419) Jul 5, 2010 Malta

    I'd agree with your assumption, a no Brett or bacteria saison. You know, the ones that most American brewers produce, but aren't noticed by beer geeks because they don't have fancy packaging and cost around $12-15 per 6pk instead per 750ml.
     
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  7. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (5,978) Mar 25, 2013 Connecticut
    Moderator Society Trader

    While not a term I've seen before, it makes sense. Since saisons vary greatly, and many aren't funky (DuPont, Hennepin), I think "clean" is a decent way to capture that feel.

    Similarly, I tend to think of "imperial" strength saisons a little differently, as well. Not requiring a new label, just the approach. A higher ABV, sweeter saison is a very different beer than a 5-6%, drier saison - and they're both different than a wild saison.
     
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  8. REVZEB

    REVZEB Poo-Bah (9,242) Mar 28, 2013 Illinois
    Society

    It's like we need multiple styles on BA for saisons or something... #splitupsaisons
     
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  9. JackRWatkins

    JackRWatkins Defender (684) Nov 3, 2014 Alabama

    I believe I've heard Burial use the term a few times and saw another brewery using it the other day (I'll have to go check to see who that was). I would say though, I know everyone is interested in the historical roots and accuracy of a style at least in terms of naming conventions, but sometimes I think concern for that can come at the expense of clarity in labeling and thus utility for the consumer. Just a thought.
     
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  10. JackRWatkins

    JackRWatkins Defender (684) Nov 3, 2014 Alabama

    Very true. I do think there is a point of over categorization, but it's a delicate balance, there's a spectrum where it becomes hazy (no pun intended) what is what, but that doesn't mean there are not firm camps or poles that make sense as benchmarks.
     
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  11. JackRWatkins

    JackRWatkins Defender (684) Nov 3, 2014 Alabama

    To be clear, it's not a term I coined, and I'll just as happily go along with whatever could manage to be come a popular term for what's being referred to. What's important to me is to feel like I have some sense of the ballpark I'm in so-to-speak before I buy, without always having to research.
     
  12. JackRWatkins

    JackRWatkins Defender (684) Nov 3, 2014 Alabama

    I agree about the American Brewers comment. I'll say this though, saison is my favorite style and when I'm looking for a bottle of beer in a bottle shop, I look for things with hideous labels, covered in dust with primarily french text, that's typically how I know I've found something really good. :joy:
     
  13. MrOH

    MrOH Meyvn (1,419) Jul 5, 2010 Malta

    I was referring more to the folks who complain about not being able to find local saisons and trade for the brett/sour stuff from hyped breweries.
     
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  14. dennisthreeninefiveone

    dennisthreeninefiveone Initiate (83) Aug 11, 2020 New Jersey
    Trader

    No I mean no added flavors. Adjuncts are grains beside barley malt that are used to make the wort.
     
  15. JackRWatkins

    JackRWatkins Defender (684) Nov 3, 2014 Alabama

    gotcha
     
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  16. JackRWatkins

    JackRWatkins Defender (684) Nov 3, 2014 Alabama

    I feel that. Frankly I just can't get very interested in a bunch of beers that want to be Gueuze but cost more and don't taste as good. I'm aware that's a generalization, there's obviously some nuance there, but you get the point...
     
  17. M-Fox24

    M-Fox24 Meyvn (1,222) Mar 17, 2013 New Jersey
    Trader

    Not saying Beechum coined the term either, but based on your initial comparison between Dupont & Fantôme, assuming you have seen his article on Clean (Modern) Saison & Funky Farmhouse?

    https://beerandbrewing.com/saison-and-funk-a-plea-for-moderation/
     
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  18. JackRWatkins

    JackRWatkins Defender (684) Nov 3, 2014 Alabama

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  19. dbrauneis

    dbrauneis Poo-Bah (9,626) Dec 8, 2007 North Carolina
    Moderator Society Trader

    If it is Burial using the term, I would think they would be using it to differentiate from their mixed-culture saisons.
     
  20. draheim

    draheim Poo-Bah (2,931) Sep 18, 2010 Washington
    Society

    Well first of all, I don’t think many saisons are sour. Funky, yes. Farmhouse-y? OK. Sour, no.

    And furthermore, I’m not going to sit here and silently endure the implication that Saison Dupont is anything other than the archetype of the style. Clean? Unclean? Whatever.
     
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  21. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (7,675) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Society

    Clean? Like a Kolsch that tastes like a Kolsch with no fruit thrown in? Blonde Ales with ditto? Yeah, I would prefer beers to better represent their style. Immensely.
     
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  22. MrOH

    MrOH Meyvn (1,419) Jul 5, 2010 Malta

    I don't think anyone here implied that.
     
  23. draheim

    draheim Poo-Bah (2,931) Sep 18, 2010 Washington
    Society

    Then it’s a good thing I stepped in just in time to make sure that didn’t happen.
     
    #23 draheim, Jun 9, 2021
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2021
  24. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (3,026) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Society Trader

    Agree, I'm in favor of any labeling that can make what's inside the container more obvious to the consumer without adding new "official" style names to a list that already has way too many names. Other oxymorons accomplish this, large shrimp comes to mind..
     
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  25. BruChef

    BruChef Initiate (169) Nov 8, 2009 New York

    I’m curious as to how he came to the conclusion that saisons were initially beers that satiated the thirsts of farm hands as being bunk? Have never heard or read otherwise.
     
  26. JackRWatkins

    JackRWatkins Defender (684) Nov 3, 2014 Alabama

    I agree with you about DuPont, but I do think it's fair to say that there are tons of things on the market from the US at least, that call themselves saisons or farmhouse ales that are so funky/sour as to bear little to no resemblance to Dupont in any meaningful way. Although I think they're on the more moderate end of the kinds of beers I'm describing, I think (if memory serves) Veille and Surette fit the bill of things that are really not that similar to Saison Dupont. As in if I bought them thinking I was getting something Saison Dupont adjacent, I think I would be disappointed (had I not had them before).
     
  27. JackRWatkins

    JackRWatkins Defender (684) Nov 3, 2014 Alabama

  28. JackRWatkins

    JackRWatkins Defender (684) Nov 3, 2014 Alabama

    Well I would say I think it's fine to add new names to the list, so long as you do a thorough audit of what's already there. Not to make sure it can't fit into a larger umbrella, it clearly can, but to see what superfluous nonsense is on there that does not need to be. Although, to backpedal a bit, I might have some reservations even about that depending on what is meant by official.
     
  29. 4DAloveofSTOUT

    4DAloveofSTOUT Poo-Bah (2,947) Nov 28, 2008 Illinois
    Society Trader

    I have always heard the term “rustic” saison to name DuPont Saison. I consider rustic & classic / classical to be synonyms.

    Either way, I love those rustic saisons!
     
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  30. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (3,026) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Society Trader

    Not gonna add any points to my side of the "already way too many style names" discussion. I will use this reply, though, to expand my position that I strongly believe the label is underused for informational purposes. I am in favor of adding as much easy to use info onto the label as possible, including a way to distinguish saisons as "clean", and also to add the info on what yeast or yeasts or other fermenting agents are used..
     
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  31. M-Fox24

    M-Fox24 Meyvn (1,222) Mar 17, 2013 New Jersey
    Trader

    Beechum is likely basing his conclusion on Roel Mulder’s work: @JackRWatkins provided a link to his blog above

    +Here's a bit more from Roel -

     
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  32. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,007) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Below is something I posted in 2016 on the topic of the history of Saison:

    “For your consideration this is what Randy Mosher stated in his presentation entitled “(Almost) Everything You Know About Brewing History is Wrong” at the 2015 NHC concerning the topic of Saison/Farmhouse Ales:

    “Saison & Farmhouse

    • A beautiful fiction

    • Saison = summer?

    • Saisonniers = migrant workers?

    • What does “farmhouse” mean?

    • What’s the beer?”

    And

    “Saison & Farmhouse

    • “Farmhouse” beer scarce in history

    • Brewing a demanding enterprise”

    During the presentation of those charts he basically stated that there is little (none?) written documentation about the ‘story’ that Saisons were brewed by farmers to provide to their summer workers. He is questioning the accuracy of this ‘story’ both from a lack of documentation perspective but from his understanding on how farmer – laborer relations were during the 1800’s. So, who knows here?”

    Cheers!
     
  33. JackRWatkins

    JackRWatkins Defender (684) Nov 3, 2014 Alabama

    I think I actually got the Roel Mulder stuff I share earlier from you. So thanks for that!
     
  34. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,007) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Another person who is knowledgeable about the history of Belgian brewing is Dave Janssen. He gave a great presentation at the 2016 NHC on the history of Grisette beers and he was kind enough to chat with me for 15-20 minutes after the presentation for further discussion.

    He has a website where lots of good information is posted:

    http://www.horscategoriebrewing.com/

    Cheers!
     
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  35. draheim

    draheim Poo-Bah (2,931) Sep 18, 2010 Washington
    Society

    Oh sure, I’ve had lots of beers labeled as saisons that seem a lot closer to gueuze, American wilds, etc. If it’s just for me I don’t really care, because I love all that stuff—but I could see where if you were sharing some beer with people, grabbed some bottles that said “saison” on the label (thankfully, many saisons still seem to come in bottles), and what you ended up with was a bunch of super sour, weird beer, you might be disappointed.
     
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  36. JackRWatkins

    JackRWatkins Defender (684) Nov 3, 2014 Alabama

    I love lambic beer, but I find it scratches a very particular itch, one I commonly have mind you, but a particular one nonetheless, and I find lambic and saison to be quite divergent style wise, so because of that, it is always irritating because lambic/sour beer is not close enough to saison for me to feel like I still basically got what I was paying for.
     
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  37. eppCOS

    eppCOS Poo-Bah (1,737) Jun 27, 2015 Colorado
    Society

    I have always interpreted that term "clean" as "classic," giving it a generous read.
    I haven't had too many American saisons that strike me as 'classic' in that sense, but there are certainly some "clean" producers of the style.

    That said, and bear with me, ISO Dirty Saisons. :wink:

    Cheers!
     
  38. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,007) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Please let me know when you see a beer branded as "Let's get dirty - Saison".:stuck_out_tongue:

    Cheers!
     
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  39. JackRWatkins

    JackRWatkins Defender (684) Nov 3, 2014 Alabama

    Whatever it is, it's probably already been me too'ed...
     
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  40. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,007) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    FWIW I homebrew a Saison every year but those beers have always been of the classic/clean variety.

    But when it comes to over Belgian styles I do feel free to get 'dirty'. My most recent example being an Orval clone which I bottled a month ago. For that batch I conducted a secondary fermentation with Brett B and there is notable funky/barnyard flavors in those beers. My wife won't even take a sip of these beers and even when she smells it the comments are always the same: Smells like horse piss. Why do you drink that s@#t!?!

    I always simply reply with a BIG smile! :grin:

    Cheers!
     
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