There may not be a more exciting style of beer today than the saison. Literally defined as "season" in French, the saison has taken off in America due to to limitless variations and culinary possibilities. More than perhaps any other style, it is difficult to compare one saison to another.
Harpoon Brewing's latest 100 Barrel Series beer is a blend of saisons, which originate from the farmhouse breweries of the French-speaking region of Belgium called Wallonia. Origin is important here. Belgium has a long brewing tradition, but France is known for wine. In the tradition of winemakers, Harpoon decided to blend various saisons for their latest release. Winemakers blend wines all the time, so why shouldn't brewers blend beer? It's a technique that's gaining in use among craft brewers, and it's encouraging to see Harpoon, one of the largest craft brewers in the country, using it.
Four Harpoon brewers collaborated on Saison Various, the 47th beer in the 100 Barrel Series. From the label:
"In the spirit of collaboration, Jamie stayed true to the farmhouse tradition of brewing without spices, while Ryan balanced East Kent Goldings hops with coriander and white peppercorn. Ethan's American hops and a Trappist yeast strain complemented Rich's citrusy hop profile, and the combined result is Saison Various: a refreshing blend of saisons, brewing sensibilities, and unique ingredients."
Saison Various pours golden with a big white head. I smell lemon and wheat. It's not as musty as some saisons, but there's a bit of funk in there.
The first sip produces tastes of peppery spice, banana, and pine. The beer is sweet but dry. Bursts of citrus make figurative dents on the roof of my mouth This is really nice. It lacks the barnyard qualities of some saisons, but it's a blend. You're getting something from each beer brewed, and the final product comes together well. If you've never had a saison, try this beer and tell me what you think. A newbie to the style will notice how dry and complex it is, without being overwhelmingly anything.