See, in these times when people are questioning all manner of stuff that is foisted upon the fan of good beer, one get's a little internally chippy. So, when I read the beginning of this NYT article by Clay Risen just now I stopped and then stopped myself:
For years, the American beer world has been in love with saisons: dry, fruity ales traditionally made by Belgian farmers in winter, then set aside for quenching thirst during hot summer days in the fields. But while most craft breweries have a saison beer in their rotation, and some even specialize in the style, it has yet to catch on with the general, I.P.A.-swilling public. That needs to change, because the saison may be the perfect summer beer. Saisons (pronounced say-ZOHNS) are usually light in body and moderate in alcohol...
First, I suffer from one cultural artefact that I have to admit up front. We Canadians have, like with "moose", decided the plural of beer is beer and not beers so it is correct to say "I had three beer before I even got to the party." So, I sort of transfer that to styles in an intentional manner. I would be quite comfortable saying "I had three saison before getting to the party." If I said three saisons I might find myself meaning I had a Hennepin, a Dupont and something else. And, anyway, who is going to say that and not feel like a dork, right?
Then, there is that "n" next to the "s". Being badly bilingual in a badly bilingual land, I click over to the default French pronunciation especially when facing a word in French. I come by it honestly even if I apply it inconsistently. Time was when the Habs were great and the Leafs weren't, a lot of us watched a lot of hockey on French-broadcast CBC TV. And Expos baseball for that matter. So, I know who le lanceur is and what to do when the announcer shouts "le buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut!" I know what you don't do is ask what happened to that "T" and the end. For me, saison is "say-zo(n)" with that last letter acknowledged more in a whisper that slips into the sinuses.
But none of this matters. Pronounce it "moose" for all I care. What I really note in the passage quoted above is the image of the "IPA-swilling public"! Has it come to that? Ray Daniels got a bit of attention this aft for suggesting a good beer bar must have an IPA, then also backstroking to a degree to the effect that the Lord knows we have too many IPAs now. Are IPAs all of a sudden the easy target, hallmark of the sloppy inattentive craft beer fan? Who so judges them? Who casts the first stone? I do like saison. I like it better than IPA if I were honest. In 2008, I wrote that in 2005 I thought saison was the next big thing. But "IPA-swilling public"? Look, everyone makes judgement calls to differing degrees of success. Risen laid an egg in his reaction to the Oxford Companion to Beer wiki and, sure, he misses the price of Saison Dupont by about 50% in this article. So has he done another one or has he captured something of the tone of the times?