Photographs: Sean Buchan
On April 14, TRiNiTY Brewing Company held their 4th Annual Saison and Farmhouse Ale Festival at their newly remodeled brewery in in Colorado Springs. One of the most highly specialized beer festivals in the state, Saison Fest draws a large and diverse crowd to enjoy close to 30 different variations on the classic beer style, offered by 16 different breweries.
Saison originated in the Wallonia region of Belgium (the French-speaking part) and was traditionally made in farmhouse breweries. The unique yeast used in these beers can produce flavors like pepper, citrus, and a slight tang. But saison-inspired beers brewed in the US often play beyond the style guidelines, adding spices or even fruit to this easy-drinking, food-friendly beer.
Here were a few of our favorites from this year's Saison Fest:
TRiNiTY Brewing Company: TPS Report
Actually an American Wild Ale, this beer took home Gold at the 2009 GABF in the Experimental Beer category. This citrusy sour is brewed with coriander, lime zest, lemon zest, and tangerine zest, then fermented and aged in French oak barrels.
Crooked Stave: Petite Sour Farmhouse Table Beer
As the follow-up to Pure Guava Petite Sour, this Farmhouse Ale was aged in large oak barrels with Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus.
Ska Brewing Company: Notorious G.I.N.
This beer takes the cake for the most interesting of the day. This black Saison was brewed with Juniper and Green Peppercorns.
Rockyard Brewing: Buddha Nuvo
Rockyard only poured 2 bottles of this during Saison Fest (with each bottle running close to $40 retail, you can guess why.) I was lucky enough to get a pour of this collaboration beer produced by 14 Colorado breweries, and I found it fascinating, if a bit confusing on the palate. It tasted very piney (in a good way) along with some spice and fruitiness.
TRiNiTY Brewing Company: Saison Man
Just released last week, Saison Man is being marketed as a 'Post Industrial Session Saison'. It was brewed with Weyermann Pilsner malt, rye, flaked wheat, flaked oats, spelt, and grains of paradise, then fermented with two farmhouse yeast strains. The result is fantastic clean Saison with a nice dry finish.
Farmhouse ale fans: did you make it to this year's Saison Fest? Which beers did you love? Didn't make it but want to feel like you were there? Check out the slideshow for a few festival highlights, plus a peek behind the scenes at TRiNiTY's brewhouse.
About the Author: Sean Buchan covers the Denver craft beer scene for Denver Off the Wagon in addition to doing freelance photography for Colorado breweries. You can view his beer photography here, follow him on Facebook or on Twitter at @Beertographer.