I’ve given it a lot of thought, and to me, saisons are about the perfect beers for spring. Sure, I drink them all year round, but during the enjoyable 70-degree days of March and April here in the mid-Atlantic, there’s no better choice in my book. Traditional versions of the farmhouse ales are crisp, clean and easy to drink, adding in some earthiness and a dash of complexity that make them far more interesting than a lager or session IPA as the Winter breaks for warmer weather.
Blackberry Farm Brewery is tucked into an area of Tennessee south of Knoxville and just outside the confines of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The brewery is actually just one part of the larger Blackberry Farm hotel and resort built on a 9,200-acre estate in the Smoky Mountains. Part of Blackberry Farm’s lineup of beers is a series of four seasonal saisons. Each one is named for one of the four seasons, brewed to match that particular time of year. Now that Spring is here (for most of us), the brewery’s Spring Saison is making its way onto shelves around the country.
The Spring installment of the Blackberry Farm series pours a golden straw color that almost perfectly matches the yellow hue of the label. There’s a pillowy white head that fades to a thin veil at the top of the glass. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say this was a witbier based on the nose alone. Aromas of orange, coriander and spice dominate the smell with a smidge of that trademark farmhouse funk saisons typically exhibit and the slightest hint of lemon. For its Spring Saison, Blackberry Farm used floor-malted wheat alongside orange peel, coriander and grains of paradise — all of which you would encounter in a number of wheat beers and hefeweizens.
On the palate, this beer follows the nose almost stride for stride. It’s very much like the lovechild of a wit and a saison as the flavors of both are well-represented. Straw-like flavors and the earthy funk of a saison play off the spice and wheat notes of a traditional hefe. I actually get more of the wheat beer throughout, but there’s enough saison character to serve as a constant reminder of the style I actually poured. The witbier flavors become even more pronounced as the beer warms up, especially in the nose. That traditional saison flavor is still there in the taste, but it’s slightly muted in favor of spice and citrus. Blackberry Farm has managed to merge two styles to create its Spring brew, creating something that will equally appeal to fans of both.
If a wheat beer or hefeweizen is your go-to, Blackberry Farm’s Spring Saison is worth a look, especially if you want to try a new style. This makes for a great introduction to farmhouse ales because it’s brewed with those ingredients typically used in wit beers. As I already mentioned, saisons are my favorite spring brews because of their earthiness and often subtle complexity. With Blackberry Farm’s Spring installment of its seasonal series, you get both a saison and a wit in the same bottle, so you won’t have to make the tough decision between the two styles when you’re heading outside to enjoy a beer before the summer heat arrives.
Brewery: Blackberry Farm Brewery
City: Walland, Tennessee
Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale
Availability: Over 30 states around the US (full list)
Billy is the host of The Brewcast, a beer podcast that never records on a regular schedule. You can follow his drinking habit @beardbrews on Twitter.