A saison is a strange choice for a cold weather seasonal, being so strongly associated with the summer months. Also known as farmhouse ales they’re traditionally brewed towards the end of winter for drinking during the summer, and particularly out in the fields during harvest, because before refrigeration it was difficult to brew successfully during the summer, which is the same reason that German Oktoberfest beers were traditionally brewed in the spring and stored in caves and cellars throughout the summer…
Which kind of makes you wonder whey they couldn’t actually brew the beers in the caves all summer long, but I guess not every town has caves and caverns beneath its foundations.
Like so many Belgian beers it’s a complex ale, full of herby, spicy, fruity, yeasty flavours. Saisons are usually not very hoppy, although at one time the beer would have needed a good dosing with hops to help save it from spoiling during the months of storage, the hop flavour fading by the time it was eventually tapped. There can be a dry finish to this beer, and it has clean, crisp qualities, similar in some respects to pale lagers, which help to make it so thirst-quenching and enjoyable on a hot summer day.
While not quite as limited a brew as it used to be, Avec les Bons Voeux is still not easy to get hold of. We were fortunate to get one five-gallon keg of it here at South Lamar last year but, alas, not this year.
Jim Hughes, Head Beer Nerd, Alamo South Lamar
“If I had all the money I’ve spent on drink… I’d spend it on drink.” ~ Sir Henry Rawlinson