Beer Maverick

Specialty Saison

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Location: Belgian and French
Category: Ale
BJCP Comparable Category: 25B - Saison

Style Description

This is the description of how the Specialty Saison style of beer should taste, feel and look. However, there may be perfectly fine beers in this style that fall outside of these ranges and descriptions. This information is just to show the most commonly accepted ranges for the Specialty Saison beer style.

Saisons represent a vast family of specialty farmhouse ales. What makes this style so different is the large amount of variety that can come from the different grains or fruits added to the brewing process. However, all saison beers in this grouping use a similar Belgium saison yeast, like this one from Wyeast.

Saisons brewed with dark malts, fruit(s), spice(s) or other special ingredients may deviate substantially from traditional appearance and flavor and from parameters shown in this guideline. Ingredients including spices, herbs, flowers, fruits, vegetables, fermentable sugars and carbohydrates, special yeasts of all types, wood aging, etc. may contribute unique attributes to these beers. Earthy and/or cellar-like aromas are acceptable in this style.

Color, body, malt character, esters, alcohol level and hop character should harmonize with attributes from special ingredients in a typical saison farmhouse style beer.

  • Color: The color of a common saison beer is from straw to dark brown. However, it commonly takes on the hues of fruits, darker malts, or other ingredients as they are added to the brewing process.
  • Body: A common saison yeast and grist should create a low-to-medium body feel.
  • Malt Flavors & Aromas: Typically low to medium-low, but may vary in beers made with specialty malts.
  • Hop Flavors & Aromas: Low to medium-high
  • IBUs/Bitterness: Medium to medium-high
  • Fermentation Characteristics: The fruity esters of this farmhouse ale are at medium to high levels. Diacetyl should not be present. Complex alcohols, herbs, spices, low Brettanomyces attributes including slightly acidic, fruity, horsey, goaty and leather-like, as well as clovey and smoky phenolics may be present. Herb and/or spice flavors, including notes of black pepper, may be present. A low level of sour acidic flavor is acceptable when in balance with other components. These beers are often bottle conditioned and display some yeast character and high carbonation.
  • Common Ingredients: At standard ABV strengths and pale color (the most common variety), a more highly-attenuated, hoppy, and bitter Belgian blonde ale with a stronger yeast character is typical. At super strength and pale color - similar to a Belgian tripel - this style often has a grainy, rustic quality and sometimes with a spicier yeast character. A common grist for saisons include a majority of pilsner malt (over 80%) along with other malts like Vienna or Carapils. Hops are always the older noble varieties like EKG or Saaz.

Brewing Properties of Specialty Saison

These are the functional brewing properties of Specialty Saison beers, as descided by the Brewers Association. These guidelines reflect, as accurately as possible, the historical significance, authenticity or a common profile in the current commercial beer market.

The alcohol by volume is shows the amount of alcohol this style of beer should have.
4.4 - 8.4%
The International Bittering Units (IBU) scale is used to approximately quantify the actual (not perceived) bitterness of beer.
20 - 40 IBUs
SRM is a scale for measuring the color intensity of a beer. Low SRM grains impart a pale straw color while higher values mean it will add a darker color to the wort. Learn more »
3 - 20 SRM
(6 - 39 EBC)
Original Gravity
Original Gravity (OG) is a measure of the sugar content in the wort before alcoholic fermentation has started to produce the beer.
1.040 - 1.080
Final Gravity
The Final Gravity (FG) is how much sugar is left over in the beer when fermentation is complete.
1.008 - 1.014

If you see an error in our data, please let us know!

Based on Brewers Association 2020 Beer Style Guidelines with changes. Used with permission of Brewers Association.