Initially I was thinking this month’s column should focus mostly on puns, like “what the helles is a saison” and “it’s saison season” but I thought that would be way too annoying and difficult to keep up for 600. Yes, each column is 600 words, my editor is a stickler. Moving on. Spring has sprung and with it comes spring specific beers. You know what I’m talking about, it’s helles and saison’s time to shine.

Let’s start with the basics. What’s the difference between helles and saisons? Helles’ are mostly brewed in Munich/southern Germany with cool fermentation. Cool fermentation uses bottom fermenting yeast for a slower process than their warm fermenting counterpart, making a lighter beer, more bubbly beer. Helles are malty and their ABV is typically on the higher end of 4% to the lower end of 5%. Super drinkable.

I’ve always considered saisons to be a table beer that tops out around 5% at the most, but some breweries have been cooking up recipes with a high alcohol content. We could get crazy and dive into sours, yeasts and all the different potential flavor profiles, but let’s stick with tradition. Saisons are bottle conditioned and originated in France and Belgium. I love the balance between the sweetness and dryness of saisons, and consider these to be a perfect springtime beer. 

Now that we’ve gotten our monthly beer lesson out of the way, let’s pick out some of the best of both styles so you can kick back and drink a few. 


1. Saison Dupont: this is one of my absolute favorite beers of all time. Light and balanced with a super dry finish, Saison Dupont pairs perfectly with seafood, creamy cheeses and salads with spring veggies. Some beers are good ice cold, this is not one of them. This is available in cans, but I prefer the glass bottle because I’m bougie. Saison Dupont’s abv is 6.5%, so right in the middle of the standard saison range of 5% to 8%.

2. Great Divide’s Colette: Technically listed as a farmhouse ale but it’s like tomato tomato when it comes to farmhouse ales and saisons. Colette is also 6.5%, not too strong, not too light. It’s fruity and dry with a tiny bit of tartness. This is a great beer to enjoy any time of year, especially in the spring.


1. Redemption Rock’s Three Decker: It’s no secret that I love Redemption Rock Brewery. They have the best staff, amazing coffee and their taproom is always fun. They also brew their very own helles lager, the malty Three Decker, clocking in at 4.5%. Not only do I love the tribute to Worcester’s world famous housing, but it’s very drinkable. 

2. Weihenstephaner Helles: Brewed in Munich at the world’s oldest brewery, Weihenstephaner is a traditional Helles lager. It’s mild and pairs very nicely with German food, I’m looking at you schnitzel. At 4.8%, Weihenstephaner is widely available in cans or bottles. Either way, just make sure you use a tall German beer glass for the full experience.

So there you have it, a very brief introduction to helles’ and saisons. Kick back and enjoy your favorite springtime beer by the fire pit or for the first backyard grill sesh of the season. Cheers!