Editors' Picks: Farmhouse Ales

Make it funky, or keep it rustic? From Saccharomyces fermentations to mixed-culture medleys, here are some of the finest retellings of that old story called "saison."

Craft Beer and Brewing Nov 27 - 5 min read

Editors' Picks: Farmhouse Ales Primary Image

Brasserie Dupont Saison Dupont

Traditional saison. If we sound like we’re repeating ourselves, it’s because we are. It’s just not possible to talk about saison without including Saison Dupont in the conversation, as the mix of heady fermentation esters—lemon, apple, and pear—with white-pepper spice literally define the style. The dry and quick finish keeps us coming back.
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: 30
Loc: Tourpes, Belgium

Funkwerks Saison

Traditional saison. It’s everything we want in a saison, and less—because in this style, less is definitely more. Subtlety is an often overlooked element of the style, but Funkwerks Saison has confidence to spare with a spicy lemon citrus and earthy floral nose, a perceived sweet lemon note that finishes dry as a bone in the body, and a zippy effervesence that delivers all of the flavors with gusto.
ABV: 6.8%
IBUs: 25
Loc: Fort Collins, Colorado

pFriem Lemon Zest Farmhouse Ale

Saison with lemon zest. A clean and yeast-forward nose offers just a hint of hay, crisp linen, bright lemon zest, and white pepper. The body is hazy and soft with an initial yeast and hops bite that fades into a slight lingering hops bitterness. A touch toward the bitter side of the saison spectrum with a firm but satisfying structure.
ABV: 6.2%
IBUs: 29
Loc: Hood River, Oregon

Blackberry Farm Brewery Classic

Belgian-style saison with noble hops. Opens with an intense pop, and wafts of wildflower honey permeate the nose with a subtle maltiness underpinning it. The sip offers a bit of white grape and more attenuated honey with only a touch of sweetness that resolves into a lingering slightly herbal bitterness as it fades.
ABV: 6.3%
IBUs: N/A
Loc: Walland, Tennessee

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Jester King Brewery Le Petit Prince

Farmhouse table beer. This is the holy grail—impossibly light, extremely flavorful, weightlessly funky, low ABV, and heavy on character. Few beers match Le Petit Prince pound for pound, and the addition of green bottles adds a not-quite-lightstruck phenolic richness to this beer that we would drink daily, if given the chance. ABV: 3%
IBUs: N/A
Loc: Austin, Texas

The following farmhouse ales tend toward the funkier side, with mixed cultures adding acidity and fruit notes to balance the familiar farmhouse phenolics for which the style is known.

Sante Adairius Saison Bernice

Mixed-fermentation saison. There’s something about the stainless fermentation of Saison Bernice that just lets the culture sing without some of the weightier fruit flavors of richer wood fermentations. Light acidity, subtle white-pepper saison phenolics, lemon and apricot fruit notes, and a vague hint of saddle leather give it a brightness that’s hard to beat.
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: N/A
Loc: Capitola, California

TRVE Brewing Psychopomp

Mixed-culture saison with Mosaic and Galaxy. A sweaty, slightly citrusy nose layers hops funk with yeast funk to stellar effect. The sip is slightly less precise, with a soft roll-in for lemon-lime hops flavor that overpowers more farmhouse notes, but resolves and finishes crisp and clean. A gorgeous example of acidity complementing hops.
ABV: 5.7%
IBUs: N/A
Loc: Denver, Colorado

Casey Brewing and Blending East Bank

Mixed-fermentation farmhouse ale aged in wood with honey. Honey in mixed-fermentation farmhouse beers often produces stellar results (see Hill Farmstead’s Anna), and Casey’s East Bank is another prime expression. Juicy citrus, stone-fruit, and tropical notes blend with a touch of Brett and leathery honey funk for a beautiful balance.
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: N/A
Loc: Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Monkish Brewing Composed of Nows

Blended mixed-culture saison. American approaches to tart and funky mixed-fermentation saisons tend to be heavy-handed, but this saison from Monkish goes the other direction, prizing subtlety and nuance over bombast and intensity. The light crackery malt character sits astride a faint orange-lemon-lime acidity, with bits of hay and a slight Brett bitterness.
ABV: 5.9%
IBUs: N/A
Loc: Torrance, California

Proclamation Brewing Stereo > Mono

Oak-aged grisette. A very light lemon-tangerine citrus note hints at a tartness that isn’t overbearing, while a very light funk note keeps things interesting. The sip delivers a bright initial acid hit that morphs into perceived citrus sweetness before resolving into a zesty drying note.
ABV: 5.9%
IBUs: N/A
Loc: Warwick, Rhode Island

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