It's disappointing that you don't hear more about French beers. France's neighbor Belgium has some of the best beers in the world. And of course French wines are almost peerless. So why is French beer persona non grata?
Lagunitas Sonoma Farmhouse Saison Style Ale isn't French, but it's made in the French style. "Saison" is a French term for "seasonal." Saison beers were first brewed in Wallonia, formerly a French province, now Southern Belgium. They were called farmhouse beers because they were brewed by farmers during the off season. The cold winter months gave farmers plenty of time to stock up for the busy summers when thirsty migrant workers would pass through expecting food, drink and pay in exchange for their labor. As these beers were made by farmers and not professional brewers, there is little standardization among saisons. The one standout quality is a higher ABV (alcohol per volume). Similar to to the first IPAs, saison's were intended to be stored for several months in an era prior to modern refrigeration. The higher alcohol content helped preserve the beer.
Lagunitas is based in Petalume, CA, just north of San Fransisco in Sonoma County. Formed in 1993 in Lagunitas, CA, they are now the fifth largest craft brewing company in the U.S. In 2014, they opened a Chicago brewery and tap room in North Lawndale (take the Pink line to California-Cermak from downtown).
Lagunitas Saison Style Sonoma Farmhouse Ale
Nose: Lemon, Barley.
Taste: Lemon, citrus, iced coffee.
Color: Satisfying, rich brown.
Recommendation: This beer was interesting, but not memorable. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either.
Where to buy: Trader Joe's.
-The Oxford Companion to Beer by Garrett Oliver
IPA stands for "India Pale Ale." IPAs were first commissioned by the British East Indian Trading Company. They were looking for a beer that could survive the long voyage by sailing ship from Britain to their holdings in India.
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