Five on Five: Saison and Farmhouse Beers

From malt-forward bières de garde to New World hoppy takes dripping in fruits from the bine, the approaches are myriad and the influences widespread. But which do brewers themselves love? We asked five for their favorites.

Craft Beer & Brewing Staff Jul 27, 2021 - 4 min read

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Little Fish Woodthrush

Bret Kollman Baker, chief of brewing operations, Urban Artifact Brewing in Cincinnati
“The beauty of this beer is in this wonderful dichotomy of understatement versus complexity of flavor. Spiced, but to a degree where you could convince yourself it is simply an expressive yeast character. Malty and full of Maillard-reaction flavor, but not at all sweet. Truly an expressive beer for those who take their time to enjoy every sip.”

Fantôme Saison

Jonathan Moxey, head brewer, Rockwell Beer in St. Louis
“The first time I opened a bottle of Fantôme, I was met by fresh strawberry, white pepper, earthy mushroom, and maybe a half dozen other characters hanging at just the edge of the frame—faces I recognized but couldn’t name. I was hooked. Opening a bottle of Fantôme is taking a chance, but as the Good Doctor says, ‘Buy the ticket, take the ride.’ You don’t know exactly where it’s going, but it’s somewhere wonderful, sometimes strange, and unlike anything else.”

Blaugies La Moneuse

John Laffler, cofounder, Off Color Brewing in Chicago
“A simple hay-like grist, grassy hopping, and a subtle mustiness set a picturesque scene of rural Belgium, leading to an explosive, layered fermentation expression. Earthy, tropical, peppery. Elegant, proud, vivacious. Just south of flashy. Ostensibly, our saison uses a banked version of their yeast, and you can draw the line between Blaugies and Apex Predator like that between Katharine Hepburn and Juliette Lewis.”

Funkwerks Saison

Bobby Kros, co-owner and head brewer, Kros Strain Brewing in La Vista, Nebraska
“For me, the Saison by Funkwerks opened my eyes as to what a saison could be. This beer showed up in our market about 2013 (if I recall correctly) and it definitely stood out from the OGs in the saison world. It had bright notes of fruit and a slight spice character that finished dry with a nice softness from the carbonation. This beer was easy to drink, and I drank a lot of it! It was nice to enjoy something that just stood out and tried to be different.”

Dupont Forêt

Shawn Johnson, cofounder, Birds Fly South Ale Project in Greenville, South Carolina
“When I began exploring saisons and farmhouse beers, I found a dusty green bottle of Forêt on a shelf. As I popped the cork, I was immediately engulfed with funky, musty fruit. Upon first sip, I was taken into a world of fruits colliding with spice and grassy notes dancing with lemon and honey. One of the moments that stays with you forever, like the first time I tasted the legendary yeast-driven wildness of Saint Somewhere’s Saison Athene.”