It’s that time of year. There’s something in the air and that something is pollen. Ah, the rite of spring. If pollen has left your throat scratchy and dry, you might be in need of beer. If you still have some Imperial Stout or Barleywine left over from winter, it’s time to cellar that stuff. What you really want is a nice Saison to usher in the new season.
The style originated in southern Belgium and was traditionally brewed in the winter months. The beer was stored until the weather warmed up and was used to quench the thirst of hard working farmers. Wild yeast works its way into the brewing process and adds another layer of complexity to the style.
Saison is light, has some fruity notes, some funk and just a hint of tartness that makes it a great seasonal choice as the weather starts to warm up. It’s also notoriously friendly with food. Everybody knows that. But, did you know it was also good in cocktails?
Beer cocktails are becoming all the rage these days and the Saison style might be the most versatile. It certainly sings with the flavors we crave as spring kicks in. Citrus juices such as lime and grapefruit are great companions to Saison, as are fresh herbs like basil. Throw in a little simple syrup and some gin or tequila and your mood will bloom in accordance with the season!
Funkwerks makes an outstanding Saison. Their blog suggests a cocktail with muddled lemon and basil spiked with Hendricks gin:
1 ¼ oz gin
1 oz simple syrup
¾-1 oz squeezed lemon juice
5-7 basil leaves
3-5 oz Funkwerks Saison
Muddle basil leaves and lemon juice in a shaker. Add ice, simple syrup, and gin and shake or stir. Add Funkwerks Saison and stir. (Don’t shake!) Pour into a glass and garnish with a basil leaf.
The home brew supply house, Love2brew, takes a spin on the Margarita with grapefruit twist.
2 oz tequila (silver or reposado)
2 oz freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
1 oz Saison Diego, or other saison
1 tsp. salt, to add to the drink or to rim the glass
1 lime wedge for garnish
Rim a highball glass (or margarita glass if you’re classy and haven’t unpacked your glassware yet) using a lime. Pour salt onto a small plate and coat the glass lightly with the salt mixture. Add a few ice cubes and set aside. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and then add grapefruit juice, lime juice, tequila, and simple syrup. Shake well. Strain into the prepared glass, top with an ounce of Saison Diego, garnish with a lime wedge, and only serve if the sun is shining overhead.
Let your creative juices flow!
Peter Culos is the editor of “Beer Bites,” covering breweries, bars and good beer in New Jersey. A graphic designer by day, and a lifelong New Jersey resident, Peter was first introduced to the novel idea that beer could actually have flavor during several visits to the UK. He’s been riding the craft beer bus ever since. It has been called the ultimate social lubricant and Peter’s philosophy on beer is, “I’d rather split my last good beer with a friend than drink the whole thing by myself.” Besides beer, he also likes history, dogs, Jeeps and painting. Life is short. Drink good beer.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.