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Saison (French, "season") is the name originally given to refreshing, low-alcohol pale ales brewed seasonally in farmhouses in Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium, to refresh farm workers during harvest season. Modern-day saisons are also brewed in other countries. Saisons are generally bottle conditioned, with an average range of 5 to 8% ABV, though traditional stregth was arond 3.5% ABV.
Historically, saisons did not share identifiable characteristics to pin them down as a style, but rather were a group of refreshing summer ales. Each farm brewer would make his own distinctive version. Modern saisons ferments the best at blood warm temperatures (85 to 95 Fahrenheit) than the temperature used by other ales.
The type of malt determines the color of the saison, and although most saisons are of a cloudy golden color as result of the grist being mostly pale and/or pilsner malt, the use of darker malts results in some saisons being reddish-amber. Some recipes also use wheat. Despite the spicy character of many Saisons, the use of actual spices is uncommon, though not unheard of. Any spice character in a traditional Saison is the result of esters during fermentation by the traditionally used strains of yeast.
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