Time of the saison for loving
An excellent guide for saison appreciation, Phil Markowski's Farmhouse Ales, distinguishes saison as one of the two major subsets of of north European rustic ales, the other being the French bière de garde, a distinction that oenophiles would appreciate as it's based almost primarily on terroir, being a style that's inherently married to the land. The big downer though, for those of us who have a romantic penchant for seasonal, hand-crafted, mutable and airily shifting farmhouse creations that bend to the will of the harvest and to the experimental nature of the brewer, is that what used to be a truly rustic, wild-as-you-want style has been all but pigeonholed into a very specific set of guidelines. Granted, those guidelines are awfully fun to explore within - the archetype of the modern style, Saison Dupont is quite extraordinary - but isn't it fun to color outside the lines once in a while? What were those pre-WWII saisons of the Wallonian countryside like when the "market" for these recipes were the families, friends and odd visitors to the farms on which they were brewed?
A little madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King,
But God be with the Clown,
Who ponders this tremendous scene—
This whole experiment of green,
As if it were his own!- Emily Dickenson
*Bruce Paton has a nice piece about saison as the beer for summer, so rather than split hairs, why don't we just call it the beer from March to September?