From the family of Farmhouse Ales, the Saison style originated Belgium where farm workers would brew beer in winter to be drunk in summer, hence the name “Saison” which is French for “season”. Not only did it provide beer for summer but it also meant spent grain for the livestock and full time workers still had stuff to do on the farm during winter.
A bunch of farmers brewing beer, now that’s my kind of farm!
So you’ve got farmers, not brewers, making the beer so they’re not out to sell it to the public. As far as my knowledge of the topic goes, this seems to be the reason why there’s not much history on what these beers would have tasted like or even made with. After all, if there’s not enough hops on your farm, you’re going to have to find something else to flavour the beer with. Hello spices! As for grain, well it could have been a matter of whatever was lying around whether that be barley, spelt or wheat or, very likely, a combination.
For a brewer it seems the Saison is whatever you want it to be, whatever herbs or spices you wish to play with, and put your mark on the style. Of course there is a generality that Saisons are usually a little boozy, dry, hopped, fruity and golden but again, it’s wide open to interpretation you don’t want to open a beer with any expectations.
Which brings me to Victoria’s Temple Brewing Saison De Miel.Temple Brewing is one of those breweries who stop me in my tracks at the bottleshop and create child-like excitement in me if I spot something new. Finding the Saison De Miel generated such excitement – a special edition of their Saison made with honey, hence “de miel”, and therefore had some very big boots to live up to.
Temple Saison De Miel pours a beautiful golden straw colour with a thick bubbly head that just screams “Consume Me!” I got aromas of mandarin, peach and honey and flavours covered off burnt orange, honey and a hint of nuttiness and a nice clean bitter finish.
Of course I’m not the only one who loves their stuff, this brew gets a mention from James Smith of Crafty Pint fame in his article for James Halliday, a Year in Beer – along with 49 other great Australian Brews, check it out here.
I decided to match it with some grilled barramundi, BBQ potatoes and zingy chilli salsa. The pairing was nice but could have been improved with some sweetness in the dish to really enhance the citrus/honey flavours in the beer, perhaps some honeyed green veggie or mango based salsa.