Is a saison an IPA?

Answered by Edward Huber

Is a Saison an IPA?

A saison is not an IPA. While both styles of beer may share similarities in the brewing process, they have distinct characteristics that set them apart.

1. Ingredients:
– Saison: Traditionally, saisons are brewed with a simple grain bill consisting of pale malt, sometimes with the addition of wheat or rye. They often incorporate a variety of hops, but the emphasis is not on hop bitterness. Saisons may also include spices and fruit additions.
– IPA: IPAs typically have a more complex malt profile, including specialty malts that contribute to a richer and sometimes sweeter flavor. They are heavily hopped, both for bitterness and aroma. Citrusy, floral, and resinous hop varieties are commonly used in IPAs.

2. Flavor Profile:
– Saison: Saisons are known for their unique flavor profile, characterized by a combination of fruity, spicy, and earthy notes. They often exhibit a dry and crisp finish with a moderate to high level of carbonation.
– IPA: IPAs are renowned for their hop-forward flavor profile. They showcase a prominent hop bitterness, accompanied by hop-derived flavors and aromas such as citrus, pine, and tropical fruit. IPAs can range from moderately bitter to intensely bitter, depending on the specific sub-style.

3. Fermentation:
– Saison: Saisons are typically fermented at warmer temperatures using a specific yeast strain known as a saison yeast. This yeast imparts distinctive flavors and aromas, contributing to the overall character of the beer.
– IPA: IPAs can be fermented using a variety of yeast strains, including ale yeasts and certain Belgian yeast strains. The choice of yeast can influence the flavor profile, but it is not as integral to the style as it is for saisons.

4. Serving and Pairing:
– Saison: Saisons are often enjoyed during the warmer months and have a refreshing quality that makes them great for outdoor gatherings. They pair well with a range of foods, including grilled meats, spicy dishes, and aged cheeses.
– IPA: IPAs are popular year-round and appeal to hop enthusiasts. They complement bold, flavorful foods such as spicy curries, burgers, and strong cheeses.

While there may be some similarities in the brewing process, saisons and IPAs are distinct beer styles with different ingredients, flavor profiles, and serving preferences. Each style offers a unique experience and caters to different taste preferences.