Specialty Saison – Belgian Origin Ale Styles

Specialty Saison Style

  • Color: Straw to dark brown; may take on hue of fruit(s), darker malts or other ingredients
  • Clarity: Chill haze or slight yeast haze is acceptable
  • Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Typically low to medium-low, but may vary in beers made with specialty malts.
  • Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Low to medium-high
  • Perceived Bitterness: Medium to medium-high
  • Fermentation Characteristics: Fruity esters are medium to high. Diacetyl should not be present. Complex alcohols, herbs, spices, low Brettanomyces attributes including slightly acidic, fruity, horsey, goaty and leather-like, as well as clovey and smoky phenolics may be present. Herb and/or spice flavors, including notes of black pepper, may be present. A low level of sour acidic flavor is acceptable when in balance with other components. These beers are often bottle conditioned and display some yeast character and high carbonation.
  • Body: Low to medium
  • Additional notes: Specialty Saisons represent a very wide family of specialty beers. Entries brewed with dark malts, fruit(s), spice(s) or other special ingredients may deviate substantially from traditional appearance and flavor and from parameters shown in this guideline. Ingredients including spices, herbs, flowers, fruits, vegetables, fermentable sugars and carbohydrates, special yeasts of all types, wood aging, etc. may contribute unique attributes to these beers. Earthy and/or cellar-like aromas are acceptable. Color, body, malt character, esters, alcohol level and hop character should harmonize with attributes from special ingredients.
    When using these guidelines as the basis for evaluating entries at competitions, brewers may be asked to provide supplemental information about entries in this category to allow for accurate evaluation of diverse entries. Such information might include the underlying beer style upon which the entry is based, or other information unique to the entry such as ingredients such as malts and grains, hop varieties, microflora, fruit, spices, or other ingredients, etc. or processing which influence perceived sensory outcomes.

Specialty Saison Vital Statistics

  • Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.040-1.080 (10-19.3 °Plato)
  • Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.008-1.014 (2-3.5 °Plato)
  • Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 3.5%-6.6% (4.4%-8.4%)
  • Bitterness (IBU) 20-40
  • Color SRM (EBC) 3-20(6-40 EBC)

2020 Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines used with permission of Brewers Association.

Credit: 2020 Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines – Ale Styles – Belgian Origin Ale Styles – Specialty Saison