11 Beers to Drink and Enjoy for the Brewski Newbie

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WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 24: Fig and Fennel Stout with oatmeal raisin, Citrus Saison with sugar cookies, Belgian Pale Ale with orange white chocolate chip cookies, Cranberry IPA with lemon sugar cookie. (Photo by Dixie D. Vereen/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

7.) Saisons

Sometimes called “farmhouse ales”, Saisons are pale ales that are just a little on the wild side. They are typically fruity, spicy, and are bottle conditioned. Bottle conditioned beers are naturally carbonated (compared to processes that artificially introduce carbonation using CO2 tanks). This means that yeasts remain in the bottle and are left to do the rest of the fermenting and carbonating work themselves.

Because the yeast is still in the beer and changes its quality ever-so-slightly over time, bottle-conditioned brews are great for aging. A small caveat – sometimes the yeast itself can taste a little strange, so pour gently to avoid getting them into your glass.

Originally, farmers in French-speaking Belgium would brew these beers as a refreshing summer drink. Seasonal workers (known as “saisonniers”) would consume these beers. Researchers think these early Saisons, which were unique to each farmstead, were pretty low on alcohol – somewhere around 3-5% ABV. Modern Saisons usually sit somewhere between 5-7% ABV.

The IBUs for most Saisons are 20-35, meaning they’re relatively less bitter than other styles. However, they often have a funky “farm” flavor, which may be a gold star or a turn-off, depending on your taste. Drinkers can pick out flavors of fruit and hay. Some breweries will use our pal lactobacillus to make sour Saisons, and can really amp up the fruit flavor with other ingredients.

Saisons to try: