Spotted Cow Blog

Hi, I'm your new craft beer for the festival...

Phil Coorey - Thursday, May 12, 2011

This is the first in a series of posts detailing some of the super rare and sought after beers we are showcasing at the festival

MONA Saison


Located on site at the Museum of Old and New Art…The Mona brewery is set to develop a range of entertaining and challenging beers.  Seasonals and limited production runs will characterize how we present, and if a beer is received well enough (or more importantly, we like it) we’ll do it again.  In keeping with making it hard to get, and making you pay more, the beers will only be available at Mona for the time being.


Historically, saison (French for season) was not a type or style of beer.   It was a family of special beers that were brewed throughout the Wallonia region of southern Belgium, with a concentration in the Hinaut province bordering France. It is not known when the first modern saison was brewed and thus, the origin of the style is tied to local agriculture than a headline event.  In the days before refrigeration, farmers around the region would gather at the village brewery or a communal brewery several times during the winter to brew saison in order to have a reserve for the following summer.  Fermenting during the colder winter months improved the beer’s chances of making it through spring without becoming infected.  During the summer harvest, farms hired casual labor known as “les saisonniers”, or seasonal workers.  These workers were served saison to quench their thirst.  Beer, because it was boiled during its production, was considered by some as possibly safer than the local water supply.  Saison was brewed with nourishing botanicals, spices and hops to rejuvenate workers during the long, hot days of summer.


Following WWI, casual farm labor was slowly being replaced by progressive mechanized technologies and the need for small farmhouse breweries began fading away.  Imported beer from England and Germany also began to influence the saison style.  Consumer’s craved a “softer” saison and hop bitterness replaced the sourness found in the original saisons.  The color went from the classic orange to amber and further onto the common pale colored beers of today.  Improvements in brewery equipment and production techniques helped to reduce the risk of infection, allowing production all year round.  The modern interpretation of the Saison beer style had emerged. 


Saison can be described as earthy, rustic, fruity as well as spicy.  These characteristics are generally driven by the yeast strain, but can also be accentuated by the addition of botanicals and spices.  Saison yeast strains do not develop the typical clove like characteristics that other Belgian yeast strains are capable of, but develop spicy, peppery phenolics.  Saisons are highly attenuated, providing a dry finish with little or no residual sweetness.  They tend to be more highly hopped than other Belgian styles with an emphasis on hop flavor and aroma.  The color tends to be pale (modern saison) or having an orange hue (classic saison). They are often said to have ‘vinous’ qualities as well, originating from the blending of yeast strains that was a common practice among the early farmhouse breweries (as well as the proximity to the wine country of northern France).


Brewed by the Moo Brew team in the Mona brewery, this Saison is a unique Tasmanian interpretation of the style.  The intention is not to imitate or indulge in iconoclasm, but to pay homage and interpret the style with inspiration.   Traditional floor malted Bohemian Pilsner malt from Germany, representing the oldest form of malted barley, provides the base malt of this beer.  The use of raw spelt seeks to follow the farmhouse tradition of including raw grains in the grist.  The origin of the yeast strain is reputed to be a small garage brewery in Blaugies, Belgium, focused on the revival of the saisons brewed previously in the region.  Bushy Park north of Hobart provides us with a tangible link to the local seasonal agricultural roots of the classic Saison. 


This 2011 interpretation of an iconic style is medium bodied and pale orange in appearance. With a complex flavor profile developed by the yeast creating esters balanced with spicy earthiness.  It finishes slightly tart with a peppery dryness.


 This is the only keg that has been sent to Queensland and the Spotted Cow are proud to have it - it will be showcased on Day 2 of the festival from midday.

Please email Phil at phil@spottedcow.com.au - if you require any more information