The concept of spring has an important meaning to us in Minnesota – winter is finally over and we can look forward to the liberated days of venturing outside without a jacket and multiple layers underneath.
But in terms of beer, and in particular, the saison style, spring has an entirely different meaning. Rather than being just another season, spring is an indication of growth which is especially applicable to the upcoming season of farm work. If you were to step back in time to spring in Belgium many years ago, you’d begin see a picture that looks something like this…
The beginning of spring means the influx of migrant farm workers who would travel to the Belgian countryside to find work for the upcoming spring and summer. Farmhouses across the country would hire these workers, and as a part of their compensation, the employees were guaranteed a wage in addition to beer. With this unique payment structure ingrained throughout Belgium for years, the saison was born.
In preparation for the arrival of the seasonal farm workers, it was the responsibility of farmhouses across Belgium to brew beer for their employees. These farms would use whatever grain was left from the previous year to craft a beer during the winter months and ensure that it would be ready for the upcoming spring. Given that each harvest year, farm and brewing practice was different, the saisons were extremely varied. This tradition of brewing for the workers continued for multiple years and eventually established the saison as its own style of beer.
As the saison would differ from farmhouse to farmhouse, there is a range of variety that this particular style allows. For brewers today, there are many ways to explore the saison style, and while saisons differ from brewery to brewery, one thing is definitely certain: the saison is a beer to make you think of warmer days. For us in Minneapolis, the return of the saison and springtime means upcoming months filled with sunshine, being outdoors, and sharing time with family and friends.
At Boom Island Brewing, our Saison is very much a classic farmhouse ale that could transport you back to working in the fields in Belgium centuries ago. Brewed with barley, oats, and wheat, and with a touch of orange peel, the Boom Island Saison features an earthy citrus aroma coupled with noticeable bitterness and a fuller-bodied texture. Flavorful and refreshing, this saison is the perfect drinking companion for being out in the sun.
And to stay true to that specific Belgian tradition, the Saison is our spring and summer seasonal. Maybe not all of us are out on a farm and working in a field (and we certainly don’t condone drinking while operating heavy farm machinery), but we’ll gladly have a Saison in hand while enjoying a Minnesota summer’s day.
The release party for the Boom Island Saison will be on Saturday, March 5. Details can be found at the event page here: Saison Release Party