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. Can be similar to a Belgian Tripel, but often with more of a grainy, rustic quality from the use of non-barley cereal grains.

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


  • Colour^ = Light gold to amber
  • Clarity = Poor to good; often unfiltered

Key Aromas & Flavours:

  • Malt = Low; grainy-sweet
  • Yeast = Moderate to high; citrusy esters (orange, lemon) / Moderate; spicy, peppery phenols (not clove-like)
  • Hops = Low to moderate; spicy, floral, earthy, or fruity
  • Malt = Low to moderate; soft, grainy-sweet
  • Yeast = Moderate to high; citrusy esters (orange, lemon) / Moderate; spicy, peppery phenols (not clove-like)
  • Hops = Low to moderate; spicy, earthy
  • Perceived Bitterness^ = Moderate
  • Balance = Towards the fruity, spicy, hoppy character; bitterness does not overwhelm these flavours, as malt is there in support

The finish is very dry and the aftertaste is typically bitter and spicy


  • Body = Light to medium
  • Carbonation = Very high; effervescent
  • Alcohol warmth = A light alcohol warmth is expected

Characteristic Ingredients/Processes:

  • Malt = Pilsner malts, plus other grains such as wheat, oats, rye, or spelt; sugar syrups and honey may also be used
  • Yeast = Belgian ale yeast
  • Hops = Continental or English hop varietals (Saazer-type, Styrian Goldings or East Kent Goldings hops are traditional)
  • Other = Not typically spiced, but spices are allowed if they provide a complementary character

Historical Development:

A provision ale originally brewed in Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium, for consumption during the active farming season. Originally a lower-alcohol product so as to not debilitate 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 brewed mostly in larger breweries yet retains the image of its humble origins.

Less common variations – lower- and higher-alcohol products, as well as darker versions with additional malt character – appeared after WWII. We will not explore these variations here; see BCJP’s style guidelines for more information.

Commercial Examples:

Saison Dupont, Fantôme Saison, Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale

^Sourced from the Cicerone Certification Program’s International Certified Beer Server Syllabus.
All other information is sourced from the BJCP 2015 Style Guidelines.

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

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