Belgian Saison

Glassware: Tulip
  • Belgium
  • Ale
  • ABV = 5.0 – 7.0% (Normal to elevated)^
  • IBU = 20-35
  • SRM = 5-14
A gold-coloured Belgian ale with dominant fruit, spice and hop flavours, a grainy, rustic malt character and a very dry finish.

Like a drier, hoppier, and more bitter Belgian Blond Ale with a stronger yeast character. Similar to Belgian Tripel, but often with more of a grainy, rustic quality from the use of non-barley grains and lower in strength.

(Note: This style description is for the pale, standard strength Saison)


  • Colour^ = Light gold to amber
  • Clarity = Unfiltered, so clarity is variable (poor to good) and may be hazy

Key Aromas & Flavours:

  • Malt = Low; lightly grainy
  • Hops = Low to moderate; spicy, floral, earthy, or fruity
  • Yeast = Moderate to high; fruity esters (citrus fruit, pome fruit, stone fruit) / Low to moderate; spicy phenols (black pepper-like)
  • Malt = Low to moderate; grainy
  • Hops = Low to moderate; spicy, floral, earthy, or fruity
  • Yeast = Moderate; fruity esters (citrus fruit, pome fruit, stone fruit) / Moderate; spicy phenols (black pepper-like)
  • Perceived Bitterness^ = Moderate
  • Balance = Towards the fruity, spicy, hoppy character, with malt in support

Very dry with a bitter, spicy aftertaste


  • Body = Light to medium
  • Carbonation = Very high; effervescent
  • Alcohol warmth = Light warming alcohol optional

Characteristic Ingredients/Processes:

  • Malt = Pilsner malt, plus other cereal grains such as wheat, oats, rye, or spelt; sugar syrups may also be used
  • Hops = Continental hop varietals
  • Yeast = Belgian ale yeast
  • Other = Spices and herbs are uncommon, but allowable if they don’t dominate

Historical Development:

A provision ale from Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium. Originally a lower-alcohol product so as to not debilitate farm and field workers, but tavern-strength products also existed.

The best known modern saison, Saison Dupont, was first produced in the 1920s. Originally a rustic, artisanal ale made with local farm-produced ingredients, it is now mostly made in large breweries yet retains the image of its humble origins.

Variations in strength and colour exist: lower- and higher-alcohol products, as well as darker versions with additional malt character. We will not explore these variations here; see BJCP’s style guidelines for more information.

Commercial Examples:

Saison Dupont, Saison Voisin, Boulevard Tank 7

^Sourced from the Cicerone Certification Program’s International Certified Beer Server Syllabus (Version 5.0)
All other information is sourced from the BJCP 2021 Style Guidelines.

Discovering Beer is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Cicerone® Certification Program.

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