There’s no getting around it; summer is coming to a swift close. In the next week, many bottles and kegs will follow suit to make room for all the the flavors of fall. Here come the brown ales, the Oktoberfest marzens, the dry ciders, and yes, the pumpkin spice everything. Seasonal, bottled beer will often taste fine when approaching its sell-by date (6 months, properly stored), but the punch of spices and juiciness of fruit can fade. So always drink while it’s still fresh!
The Saison has moved well beyond its romantic, farmhouse origins. It has its share of diversity and experimentation like any other style, allowing brewers to source ingredients from the spring season. What they all have in common is a quaffable complexity: a light-bodied, often highly carbonated brew with a depth of flavor from the wild and Belgian yeasts. The Gose, or Sour Beer, wouldn’t categorically be a summer beer, but I find myself consuming more Sours during the summer, like I would a glass of icy lemonade on a hot, humid day.
While the sun is still blazing, here are some great in-season selections to enjoy.
Summer Saison Selections
Prairie Hop Ale
Tulsa, OK 8% ABV
A yummy Belgian Style Saison brewed with Citra, a super citrusy commodity hop, and Simcoe hops, one that both is a piney, low-acid, bittering hop, as well as a fruity, aromatic hop. Divine to sip and enjoy with the abundant owl art, board games, reserve bottle pours, and rapidly changing tap list at The Owl Farm.
Transmitter Brewing + Bar Great Harry: BGH8
Queens, NYC 6.2% ABV
Bar Great Harry just celebrated its 8th anniversary with a knockout collaboration on this rye saison. Made with Brett yeast and New Zealand hops, the bitter rye balances the yeast, with a super silky mouthfeel. Also at The Owl Farm.
Other Half + Stillwater Collaboration Farmhouse IPA
Brooklyn & Long Island City, NY 7.2% ABV
This is one for IPA fans, reaching the outer, hoppy limits on the farmhouse/saison scale. Made with 2 strains of Brett yeast, the result is something punchy, with a very musty backbone. Considering the craft and artistry these local nanobreweries have cooked up, this one is especially enjoyable. It’s clear they have a talent for flavors, and drinking local. Available in Manhattan at One Mile House, Blind Tiger Ale House and in Brooklyn at The Owl Farm and Double Windsor, among others.
Peak Organic Summer Session
Portland, ME 5% ABV
While this choice is not a saison, I list it in the spirit of drinking seasonally. This hopped summer wheat beer is light bodied, bubbly, and sweet like rock candy. On tap at Commonwealth Bar, with free baskets of popcorn, no-nonsense bartenders, and a sizable outdoor patio, good for doing a crossword and eavesdropping on nerdy bros.
Peekskill Simple Sour
Peekskill, NY 4.5% ABV
Brewed with wheat, corn and brett yeast. This Sour is quick, dry and refreshing, and may be the ultimate session beer for the rest of these hot days. I had this in between a couple of Sunday rainstorms at The Sea Witch, a tavern tucked away on 4th ave near the Grand Prospect Hall. You can steal out to the patio to see the koi pond, and enjoy the variety of mermaid art & ship artifacts, or order a Pork Schnitzel sandwich or Clam Roll from their kitchen, all to the sounds of some b-side punk rock. Available in Manhattan at The Ginger Man, Drop Off Service, and in Brooklyn at Spritzenhaus and Hamilton’s, among others.