Gateways To Drinkery: Raise a glass to saison, the farmhouse ale brewed to last through the dog days
Welcome to Gateways To Drinkery, where The A.V. Club offers an entry-level course on our favorite libations, and some suggestions on where to start drinking them.
Saison (farmhouse ale)
The lowdown: “Saison” sounds fancy—dainty even. It’s nearly impossible to order one without indulging in even the lightest French lilt. That might, to the casual beer drinker, make them appear less approachable. But there’s a reason saisons are also known as “farmhouse” beers. Their roots are humble.
Saisons were born out of necessity. During the 18th century, farmers in Wallonia, the French-speaking region of southern Belgium, were in need of a beer that wouldn’t spoil during the hot summer months, when the heat made fermentation unsustainable. In those times, beer was often more potable than water as it carried fewer pathogens, so it was relied on for refreshment rather than enjoyment (though we’re sure nobody …