This week’s Canada’s Craft Beer post comes from our Eastern Canada craft beer guy, David Ort, as he introduces us to some Eastern Saisons for summer.
Usually, I try to keep the comparisons between beer and wine for desperate situations. They are different drinks with separate histories and unique characteristics. Those subtleties are often forgotten when the two drinks are placed beside each other and besides, beer tends to cast at a disadvantage as the presumptuous upstart.
I'll make an exception today for saisons and the fact that I think they are the Riesling of the beer world. Equally at ease in the afternoon as a summer cocktail substitute or with the lighter, opening courses of dinner.
My Western Canadian counterpart, Joe Wiebe, did an excellent job of describing this Belgian style in his first post in this space. Take a minute to read what Joe has to say about the style's background. To that, I'll add that as a style, saisons are somewhat ill-defined and because they derive a large part of their flavour from the particular yeast that the brewer has in his repertoire, two can taste very different from each other.
The pair I'm happy to recommend today, both from Quebec, aren't quite opposites, but I think you'll see from the tasting notes that they aren't quite lookalikes.
Le Trou du Diable Saison du Tracteur
Shawinigan's award-winning brewery, Le Trou du Diable makes some of Canada's most interesting and unusual beers. The Saison du Tracteur is one of their widely available releases and while it doesn't push boundaries the way some of their truly sour beers do, it is no less interesting.
The current version of Tracteur has a new yeast that gives it more of a citrus flavour than the dried apricot notes I remember finding in last year's bottles.
In the glass, Saison du Tracteur is hazy and golden straw coloured. The white head easily pours to three-fingers high and slowly falls back. Tracteur keeps its effervescence all the way to the bottom of a contemplative glass.
The aroma and flavour give the strong impression of bright lemon and yeasty bread with a note of wheat and a bit of green grass as each sip comes to its gently bitter finish.
ABV 6% Available in ON, NB and QC
Microbrasserie Charlevoix Dominus Vobiscum Saison
The Dominus Vobiscum Saison from Micrcobrasserie Charlevois is light yellow, touched with a hint of gold and topped with a pillowy, white cap. That foam takes its own sweet time dissipating and leaves plenty of Brussels lacing on the glass. My aroma notes here include words like "sweet", "fruity esters", and "floral". The apricot and sweet maltiness comes out with a first sip that ends in a dry, just-right finish
Like the Hibernus from Charlevoix that I wrote about last month, the Saison will age gracefully well into its second year.
ABV 6% Available in ON and QC
There are several Canadian saisons worth mentioning that don't make it very far out of their home markets. For instance, in Quebec Hopfenstark has at least five versions of the style that I would love to have better access to here in Ontario. Likewise, Nickel Brook’s Le Paysan Saison is worth picking up any time you can find it.
David writes about food, travel, and craft beer for various online and print publications. His first book, The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook, is in bookstores and available for purchase online. For more of his thoughts on all things edible and potable follow him on Twitter or get in touch with him at [email protected]