Sonora: Spring is my favorite season — flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and the weather is warm! I love toasting the season with a good saison. Saisons are a perfect springtime beer, as they offer a reprieve from winter stouts and heavy DIPAs while still packing a rich, flavorful punch. Amanda McGrory-Dixon and I were chatting about how we love saisons, and we thought it’d be fun to recommend one of our favorite saisons to the other. Amanda suggested that I try Ommegang Hennepin, an Ommegang offering that’s been on my “to try” list for some time.
Amanda: As patio weather creeps upon us, I’m ready to start enjoying more saisons. I’m not overly seasonal with my beer, but there’s something about saisons and sunshine that go together. For my review, Sonora recommended I try Firestone Walker Opal. I’m a huge Firestone Walker fan, so I was surprised that I hadn’t tried Opal. Let the saison tasting begin.
Sonora: like a) many Belgian beers, and b) many beers from Ommegang, Hennepin flows fast and immediately starts pouring a rich, thick head. It’s a blend of gold and orange in color as it settles. I found that the rich white head settled more quickly than past brews — maybe my pouring hand has improved?
Amanda: Opal pours a warm straw color — almost a jewel tone. Lots of bubbles cascade throughout Opal, which add a pretty touch. About an inch of a white, fluffy head tops the beer and slowly tapers off. For an unfiltered saison, it’s on the clear side with only a slight haze.
Sonora: Hennepin has your average saison scent — fruit, yeast, and a hint of spice. It is heavy on the citrus, likely from the sweet orange peel included in the brew. It’s a pleasant, floral scent that is reminiscent of wildflower honey.
Amanda: As you would expect with a saison, Opal’s nose gives off an earthy, herbal aroma with a kick of spice and musk. A touch of fruit comes through on the end that reminds me of a dry white wine.
Sonora: the flavor matches the aroma. The initial taste I get is crisp white wine, namely Pinot Grigio. Upon further sips, I get more of the sweet orange peel advertised on the bottle. It also has the classic sweet and spicy flavors you would expect from a saison.
Amanda: I pick up some classic Belgian yeast notes, primarily pepper and coriander. The barnyard funk is more reserved than some other saisons, but there’s still a hint of grass. Bright floral and lemony hops round out the beer and give it a slight bitterness.
Sonora: Hennepin is rich and thin, leaving little resin behind and sipping quite smoothly. The carbonation is very light, leaving a trace of bite on the tongue. This beer is a sipper, but because of all of the wonderful flavors happening, as opposed to ABV or thickness.
Amanda: Opal has a light mouthfeel that pops from the high carbonation, and the finish is crisp and dry. I would not have guessed this is 7.5 percent ABV. For me, this could have had a touch more body to it, but if you’re in the market for something light on a warm day, Opal is a solid choice.
Sonora: This is a refreshing saison. It does not offer many surprises in terms of the style, but surprises aren’t needed for such a tasty, classic brew. I recommend sipping this with a good pasta primavera, or maybe for dessert alongside some shortbread cookies. Hennepin offers a great introduction to saisons for new fans, and classic taste for established sippers. This sits alongside 3 Stars Citra & Lemon Peel Saison and Great Divide Colette in terms of saisons I enjoy. Cheers, and Happy Spring!
Amanda: This is a tasty saison that will make my rotation when I’m in the mood for something light. I could see Opal pairing well with a crawfish boil or fish tacos. The lemony hops would brighten the seafood while the high carbonation would cut through the spice and cleanse the palate. With the mild funk, Opal would be a great choice for someone who’s new to the style or doesn’t like overwhelming horse-blanket flavor. For other saison suggestions, you can’t go wrong with Boulevard Tank 7 and Crooked Stave Surette. Those are my other go-to saisons. Happy Saison drinking!