Saison means “season,” and these beers are strong, refreshing golden ales brewed traditionally in the farmhouses of Belgium. You’ll drink this carbonated, dry, beer; sense the citrus, earth, and spice peeking through at you; and you’ll feel at one with the farmhands this summer refresher was made for. Saisons work wonders with brightly flavored shrimp salads and are bold enough to enjoy with spicy crab cakes, sausages, and Thai food.
Glassware: Tall Tumbler

Pairing Thoughts …

Saisons are about as versatile as they come when it comes to beer and food pairings. The hop character and crisp finish will stand up to spicier Asian cuisine such as Szechuan or Thai as well as to the chile-laden fare of Mexico and Central America. Saisons also pair up well, however, with more traditional American fare such as steak or grilled salmon, and the fruity and spicy notes can lift a simple barbecue to new heights. Avoid pairing with more delicate foods, and you may be surprised what a pairing chameleon this beer can be.


Braised Pheasant Saison

You can use duck breasts instead, or chicken breasts in pinch. The blackberry sauce also goes well with pork. You will need a mesh sieve or the cone-shaped metal chinois to remove the blackberry seeds – or pick seedless berries to make the sauce.

•    1/2 cup fresh blackberries
•    1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
•    2 teaspoons cornstarch
•    1 tablespoon cold water
•    1/4 cup olive oil
•    4 wing-on, cleaned pheasant breasts
•    1/2 cup flour, mixed with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper
•    2 shallots, chopped
•    3 fresh thyme sprigs
•    2 cloves
•    1 orange, thinly sliced, peel on
•    1 apple, cored and sliced
•    1 cup pressed apple cider
•    1 cup chicken stock
•    1 cup saison
•    1 cup heavy cream

1. Cook blackberries with vinegar until berries dissolve. Strain out seeds and pulp; return purée to heat. Mix cornstarch with cold water to make a slurry, and add to the warmed fruit. Whisk and heat until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.

2. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Dredge pheasant breasts in flour mixture and shake off excess. Brown breasts in oil, turning often until golden on all sides. Add shallots, thyme, clove, apple, and orange slices, then allow shallots and fruit to lightly caramelize. Add cider, stock, and saison. Cover and cook over low heat. Remove pheasant when done. Uncover pan and allow sauce to reduce by half.

3. Once sauce is reduced, add cream 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition. Reduce sauce until syrupy enough to coat a spoon. Strain the sauce through a mesh sieve or chinois, being sure to push all of the liquid out of the solids, and return liquid to pan. Return pheasant breasts to the sauce and reheat if necessary. Drizzle blackberry sauce over pheasant and garnish with fresh thyme sprigs.

From The Best of American Beer & Food by Lucy Saunders