Reaching back a bit in my archive of notes to write up two beers in one of my all time favorite “non-styles,” the Saison. One is a very authentic modern take originating far from where the style was born, and another a kind of ancient take from right in the heart of the Senne valley. Nogne 0 has gotten some nice attention lately here in New York City where their portfolio of available brews is increasing and more people are taking notice of their excellent takes on almost any style imaginable. When I noticed that they threw their hat in the Saison ring and was simultaneously encouraged by Stinky to check it out, I knew it was probably going to be a winner. Nogne’s Saison pours a deep Orange color, closer to red than blonde, which right away gives it a distincitive look. A large amount of crackling off white head is evidence of a lot of carbonation, which continuously releases a lot of great aromas for a long while after the beer is poured. There’s apparently no extra spicing in this beer, only the aromas and flavors lent by the Saison style yeast, and that’s quite an accompilshment because there’s a lot of complexity in both departments. Even though this is an appropriately dry Saison, there is a decent amount of maltiness and body, and the herbal and citrus notes do a lot to compliment that and prevent it from overwhelming the beer. One of the better Saisons to come from anywhere outside of Belgium, Nogne scores again with this very balanced, very delicious version that would go very well with almost any food imaginable — I’m thinking a nice Steak, but I’m usually thinking about Steak these days, so that doesn’t say that much. At an event at Spuyten Duyvil a little while back, I had the opportunity to sample some of the beers of Brasserie De la Senne, a Belgian brewery in the Senne Valley, where certain Belgian beer styles are said to have originated. The beers are difficult to find in the United States, and as it was a joint “event” with the greatest brewers in the world (Cantillon), I was more than pleasantly surprised to learn that Senne’s Saison is actually blended with some of Cantillon’s young Lambic beer. This Saison pours a pale golden color with a slighter quantity of carbonation than the Nogne version, but still enough to keep the drinkability nice and high. There is a tartness in both aroma and flavor here, in addition to an array of sweet, spicy, and citrus notes which all come together in one of the more complex variations on any style I’ve ever had. Easier-going than a Lambic, more adventurous than the average Saison, Senne’s version hits so many notes that really all you can say is that once again, Life is Beautiful. Also check out Senne’s website for some of the best beer label artwork ever.