A bottle of Southampton Publick House Biere de Mars

Southampton Biere de Mars

Southampton Publick House Biere de Mars

  • Sour cider
  • Rich; warm spice; mild hops
  • Crisp and bitter

The saison is a wild card in the beer game. Quite often its prepared like a citrusy white ale, which is fine as far as it goes, but it can err on too lemony. Since saisons were brewed in small batches on small farms, there really isn’t a standard. But Southampton Publick House makes a strong argument that saisons should be made in the tradition of another type of spring seasonal, the marzen. Americans are more familiar with marzens as fall beers, specifically the Octoberfest-style. But they’re called marzen because they were brewed in March, and were traditionally served in the spring. (Some clever Germans left a few bottles in a cool cave over the summer and served them in the fall–those became the first Octoberfest beers, before there was an actual Oktoberfest.)

A bottle of Southampton Publick House Biere de Mars

Enjoying a Southampton Publick House Biere de Mars at The Cortland

The Southampton Biere de Mars is a lagered-ale—ale from the type of yeast, but lager from the cool fermenting process—which creates a really smooth, but rich body. The beer pours heavy, almost porter like, but it’s crisp on the palate. There’s a cidery sourness that just slightly puckering and the hops are complementary to the flavor of the wheat and barley malt. It’s a great beer, and one that I’d recommend to anyone who has been underwhelmed by other saisons. This may be a French style of beer, but I think this recipe was uncovered in a dusty, old chest on a farm in the disputed Alsace-Lorraine border.

Biere de Mars is the third beer that we get to offer for $4 a bottle at The Cortland on March 10, 2011 for the first DnU Night Out. It’s available for a limited time, since it’s a seasonal, and it’s really too good to miss. This review was posted a bit out of order since your humble host was taken ill, but Southampton had a lovely cure in the Biere de Mars, and I thank brewmaster Phil Markowski for his interpretation on this ancient style.