Submit Content

Your Beermonger: ‘Tis the Saison

Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

It’s hard to imagine here in 2012 American, but the Belgian style of beer known as Saison was near-death not 15-20 years ago. Like many other beer styles, the rise of the American craft beer scene created an interest in Saison that brought this clean, refreshing Ale back from the brink and then some. In fact, it seems difficult these days to find a brewery that isn’t making a Saison of one form or another. Let’s take a look at a style of Belgian beer that has charmed the world.

Saison’s roots can be found in the French-speaking Belgian region of Wallonia. Farmers would brew these Ales in the autumn or winter for farm workers to drink during their long harvest-time shifts (this is why you’ll often see Saison alternately referred to as Farmhouse Ale). You see potable water wasn’t exactly an option in those days, and said farmworkers were entitled to as much as five liters per day (for hydration purposes, or for the hell of it) while harvest was happening. Because of this the original Saisons were around 3% ABV so as to be more refreshing than anything else, and while the strength of Saison has gone up over the years (most examples today check in between 6-8%) a bright, refreshing feel with a crisp hop character (hops act as a preservative, don’t forget) remain the hallmark of the style.

With Saison we’re blessed with many great examples brewed here in the U.S. as well as its native Belgium, but there is a standard of the breed. Saison Dupont has been brewed in the same farmhouse since 1844 and is one of a precious few beers that perfectly represent what their style should be. Dupont has fresh wheat notes with a subtle hoppy backbone and a slightly floral finish. Above all else, Saison Dupont is a joy to drink; it’s a beer that is welcome and fantastic to have anytime of the year and one of only a handful of beers I know of that just about everyone who is into beer can always agree on.

Dupont also make a holiday season version called Avec Les Bons Voeux that is stronger at 9% and well worth seeking out. For Belgians, I also recommend Urthel Saisonniere. Here in America, there is a seemingly endless list of great Saison-style beers available. Brooklyn Sorachi Ace is a favorite, featuring the Japanese Sorachi Ace hop and a more floral character with slightly more assertive hops than usual. Heavy Seas Red Sky At Night from Baltimore is available during the summer months, as it tradition, and usually sells out fast so if you find it, jump on it.

Stillwater Ales has made an art of Saison-inspired beers; their American Farmhouse Ale is a delight and Debutante, with its rye malt and use of heather and honeysuckle, is a revelation. Ommegang Hennepin is a legend and can be found all year. The Bruery Saison Rue is brewed every season and mixes rye malt and brettanomyces to make things more interesting. Smuttynose Farmhouse Ale is a more-than-solid straightforward take on the style. Among the more intriguing, though, is Saison du Buff made in an epic collaboration between Dogfish Head, Stone, and Victory brewing companies. Each brewery makes their own version of the beer, and each has their own qualities. It’s a fascinating experiment if you can gather all three for a tasting session. Expect to start seeing the new releases of Saison du Buff in the next couple of months.

Until next time. Cheers!

Nick Anderson keeps a blog at, and can be found on Twitter at @The_Beermonger. Sign up for Arrowine’s money saving email offers and free wine and beer tastings at

Recent Stories

The Arlington County Fair is set to kick off this Wednesday and run through Sunday, Aug. 21. As usual (though it was not without some debate) the fair is being…

Hundreds of K-5 students at Oakridge Elementary School packed 200 gift boxes to seamen and Marines serving on the USS Arlington. The boxes sent to those aboard the 684-foot-long amphibious…

Meet Cannoli, the Arlington Pet of the Week who loves chewing his many bones and playing chase with friends.

When Marine veteran Brendan McElroy started working on the sales side of the consulting industry, he quickly realized that although he enjoyed the more interactive part of his job, he did not like the “typical consulting-sales model.”

15 year old Australian Shepherd went missing from her yard in Waycroft-Woodlawn on the evening of August 8.

A pet tracker hasn’t been able to find her, and despite roaming in a busy area, there have been no reported sightings. She is microchipped, and her information is up to date. It’s most likely someone has picked her up. If found, or if there is any information, please contact the Animal Welfare League of Arlington or her owner at 571-510-0508 or [email protected]. If spotted, please don’t approach or call to her, but take a picture and call her owner.

Submit your own Community Post here.

As the summer winds down, it’s a great time to look forward to a creative fall! Art House 7 has a terrific selection of classes, for preschoolers to adults. Our fall session, starting September 6, offers painting, drawing, sculpture, collage, ceramics (including the wheel) and sewing. We have specialty classes such as Suminagashi, the ancient art of Japanese water marbling.

If you’re looking for a shorter commitment, we also have a full schedule of workshops, Art Nights, and Morning Art Socials. If you haven’t discovered Art House 7, please check us out! We offer classes throughout the year, taught by a range of fantastic teachers. You can buy art supplies next door. We’re near the Lee Harrison shopping center, and free parking is outside our door.

Art House 7
5537 Langston Blvd.Arlington VA 22207

Submit your own Community Post here.

Rental Property Investing: Part One

Have you ever considered purchasing a rental property but weren’t sure where to start? This free webinar will go over the basics of how to invest in real estate, how to choose rental properties, and a market overview. Our Director

Standup Comedy Showcase Starring Todd Riley (Comedy Central)

A night of live standup comedy, with some of the best comedians from the DMV and beyond!

Todd Riley – Headliner

From the moment Todd Riley stepped onto that stage in 2008, he knew comedy is what he wanted to


Subscribe to our mailing list