Recently in Saison Category

2SP Barrel-Aged Dead of Night Saison

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Ah the Dark Saison, everyone's favorite! By which I mean no one really likes or appreciates these things. They're all liars. But they've got good taste and that's got to count for something, right? The answer is no.

In all seriousness, this is not the most common style, and even the really good ones we do get tend to be more American Wild Ales than saisons... but now we're just splitting hairs. The truth is that it's difficult to really nail this sort of thing, a dark saison aged in American Oak barrels, and I've only had a couple that I've really enjoyed. That being said, I'm always looking for a beer to turn me around on an underwhelming style. It's happened many times before, did 2SP manage it with this entry? Alas, the answer is again: no. It's perfectly cromulent, to be sure, but not something that will change hearts and minds:

2SP Barrel-Aged Dead of Night Saison

2SP Barrel-Aged Dead of Night Saison - Pours a very dark brown color with hints of amber when held in light, a finger of very light tan head. Smells of dark chocolate, hints of that musty saison base, and a little tart funk peeking through. Taste has a nice richness to it, some chocolate, some saison spice, a very light funky tartness, and a slightly discordant boozy note. It never quite reaches that chocolate covered fruit character that the best entries in the style have. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, decent carbonation, a little boozy. Overall, this is interesting and cromulent enough, but I'm not sure it's entirely baked. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 7/23/16. Batch date: 11/15. Bottle No.: 252. BBL Aged: American Oak.

I've really enjoyed a lot of 2SP's beers, but for some reason the two barrel-aged entries have underwhelmed. It still feels like there's a lot of potential here though, so I will most certainly be trying some more...

Fantôme Forest Ghost

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So it's called Forest Ghost, but it's got palm trees and a beach on the label? Like, I'm sure ghosts enjoy traveling and vacations and all, but what's going on here? It turns out that this beer is brewed with Brazilian spices and since Brazil is known for their palm trees and forests, et voila! As per usual, I went into this with no idea what to expect and of course bustin' always makes me feel good:

Fantome Forest Ghost - Light

Fantôme Forest Ghost (Light) - Pours a mostly clear dark orange color with a couple fingers of fluffy, dense white head that sticks around for a bit. Smells nice, candied malt, typical earthy Brett funk, maybe hints of fruit too, banana and raisins maybe? Taste has a nice sweetness up front, followed by some of that earthy Brett, noble hops, maybe some unidentifiable spice (peppery? Maybe it is identifiable), and finishing with that raisiny banana note. Mouthfeel is fuller bodied and richer than expected, though it's not a monster by any stretch. Well carbonated, tight, and balanced. Overall, rock solid stuff here, yet another interesting spin from Dany. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV bottled (750 ml capped and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/15/16.

I've got the "Dark" version of Forest Ghost in the pipeline as well, though I may end up sharing that one with some friends. Always looking for more Fantôme!

Toad the Brett Rocket

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Rex Stardust, lead electric triangle with Toad the Wet Sprocket, has had to have an elbow removed following their recent successful worldwide tour of Finland. Flamboyant ambidextrous Rex apparently fell off the back of a motorcycle. "Fell off the back of a motorcyclist, most likely," quipped ace drummer Jumbo McClooney upon hearing of the accident. Plans are now afoot for a major tour of Iceland.

And thus did Monty Python birth the name of alt rock heroes, Toad the Wet Sprocket, in an old sketch called "Rock Notes". Apparently the band was a big fan of Python and couldn't settle on a name, so they just snagged this one. It was meant to be temporary, but it just stuck.

Fortunately, the multitude of differing and evolving beers that show up in brewpubs lends itself to eccentric names, obscure references, lame/awesome puns, and so on. Thus Toad the Brett Rocket, a dry hopped saison aged in wine barrels with Brettanomyces, was born. With an awesome label depicting a toad riding a barrel-shaped rocket. This is not quite the revelation that Hallowed Ground was, but these bottle releases are not to be slept on. Er, strike that. Let's keep these things manageable and not get out of hand. Nothing to see here, move it along:

McKenzie Toad the Brett Rocket

McKenzie Toad the Brett Rocket - Pours an almost clear golden yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells very nice, citrusy hops, vinous fruit, earthy Brett. Taste starts off sweet, hints of white wine, lemon peel, citrusy hops, a bit of tartness, then it moves on into more funky, earthy Brett territory, light but lasting through the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, and lightly acidic, very refreshing summer spritzer type of thing. Overall, this is another winner, though perhaps not quite as great as Hallowed Ground, it still earns an A- in my book. Er, blog. This is a blog.

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/8/16. Released: 6/28/16.

It's nice to see that older local breweries are still managing to do interesting things, and I will most definitely be snagging more McKenzie bottles whenever Nate puts them out.

Sante Adairius Saison Bernice

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When I was in college, my friends and I were on the Campus Activities Team (I ran the movie program, natch) and we had this (in retrospect) utterly bizarre habit of designating office supplies with old-people names. Of particular note were tape dispensers named Phyllis and Gertrude. I don't think we had anything named Bernice, but we certainly should have. I'm... glad I was able to write about this, and I know you are too.

I'll let eponymous owner Adair Paterno describe this Brett dosed saison in more detail: "I think that Saison Bernice is the purest expression of what our house culture can do to a base saison, specifically, our house saison, Anais, without oak and/or a significant amount of aging time." Presumably they named it after someone important in their lives, but I'd like to think that somewhere at the SARA headquarters there's a tape dispenser with the name Bernice scrawled on the side in whiteout. Let's dig in:

Sante Adairius Saison Bernice

Sante Adairius Rustic Ales Saison Bernice - Pours a bright, luminous yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells wonderful, nice earthy funk component, especially as it warms up, with lots of vinous fruit, lemons, tangerines, nectarines, you know, fruit type stuff. We get real technical here at Kaedrin, get used to it. Taste hits those same elements, a little more in the way of earthy funk here, but it's all brightened up by those notes of juicy fruit, lemony tartness creeping in towards the finish. Mouthfeel is crisp, light, and utterly quaffable, very refreshing and croosh. Overall, this is a fabulous saison in the Logsdon Seizoen Bretta mold, maybe even a little more nimble; definitely funky, complex, juicy, and delicious. A

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 5/6/16.

Drinking SARA beers is always a pleasure. Many thanks to the hibernating blogger Jay from BeerSamizdat for sending this one my way. Fortunately, there is another SARA beer in the pipeline, so look for a review in the near future...

Birrificio Del Ducato Beersel Mattina

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This is becoming a habit, I think. Yet another Italian mad scientist has blended a small amount of lambic into their beer. This one has its roots in Drie Fonteinen's infamous "Thermostat Incident" in which much of their stock was lost. In need of a quick infusion of cash, Armand Debelder sought to sell off his remaining lambic barrels as quickly as possible. Enter Birrificio Del Ducato, which was more than happy to take up the call. Alas, that batch was many moons ago and these days, they use lambic from the more readily available Oud Beersel.

18% of this is 18 month old lambic (I see what they did there), with the remaining 82% being one of their standard spiced saisons, Nuova Mattina. But, you know, if you're going to blend something into your beer, lambic seems like a better choice than a lot of the weird stuff we're seeing from "innovative" breweries these days. I mean, yeah, sure, I want to try that beer made with ample helpings of Cheeto dust*, of course I do, but it's more out of morbid curiosity than because I think it will taste good. This lambic blending thing, though, is something that is promising, if a bit difficult to tame if my experience is any indication.

Birrificio Del Ducato Beersel Mattina

Birrificio Del Ducato Beersel Mattina - Pours a slightly hazy golden color with almost no head at all, just some big bubbles from the vigorous pour. Smell has a nice Euro component to it, at first I felt it was kinda skunky, but that lambic is what really makes it work, slight funk, tart fruit. Taste has a decent enough saison spice to it, then that lambic pitches in with a sour, fruity, oaky note that finishes things off. Falls down on mouthfeel, which is nearly still. Can't tell if this is just a bad bottle or not, but I've seen pictures of this beer with billowing head, so something's off here... There's just a hint of finely bubbled carbonation and that's it. Medium bodied, lowish acidity, quite drinkable. Overall, this improves as I drank it, but was still a little disappointing. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.2% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a charente glass on 4/2/16.

Near as I can tell, these bottles seem to be a little inconsistent in terms of the carbonation. Some folks get bottles like mine, others are well carbonated. This is pretty expensive too, so it's a bit of a gamble. Caveat Emptor! Ducato makes some decent Belgian style beer though, and the base for this beer is quite nice.

* Too my knowledge, this beer does not exist. Yet. Though I'm positive some enterprising homebrewer has tried it.

Tired Hands Bottle Digest

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For a long time, I kept a running diary of quicky notes for every Tired Hands beer I drank, resulting in epic recaps of hundreds of beers. Given that they put out a few new beers every week, this was obviously not sustainable, especially once they opened the Fermentaria (their new production facility). However, I am a part of the Believer's Club, so I've kept up with the bottle releases pretty well (the cans, uh, not so much, since those releases are during the week and, you know, I have a job and all that). As a result, I've had some notes piling up for a while now, and I thought it was time to do a quick recap of the past half a year or so's worth of releases, starting with one of my favorite Tired Hands beers (and definitely the best thing to come out of the Fermentaria yet):

Freedom from the Known

Freedom From the Known - This beer was a revelation when it appeared on tap, like pure sour cherry juice mixed in with Tired Hands' house saison style, it was brilliant. After bottle conditioning for a few months, it loses some of that fresh fruit juice feel, but it's still phenomenally delicious. Pours a striking pinkish hued orange color with a finger of white head. Smells great, oak and vanilla, saison spice, and of course, those cherries, though perhaps not quite as powerful as when this was fresh. Taste starts off with that saison spice, gathers some richness from the oak and vanilla, finishing off with sour cherries. Again, though, the cherries aren't quite as intense as they were when this was fresh. When it was fresh, it felt a lot like straight up cherry juice with some saison mixed in. This actually feels more balanced though, and the cherries still come through very strong right now, actually moreso than most cherry beers. I suspect further aging will reduce their impact, but this is still great. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, a pleasant acidity towards the finish. Overall, this is different than it was when fresh, but it's no less delicious, and it's the best beer they've released out of the foudre so far. A

Beer Nerd Details: 7.2% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a flute on 10/24/15.

Sticky Drippy Crystals

Sticky Drippy Crystals - An oak fermented honey saison. Pours a bright golden yellow color, maybe hints of peach peeking through in the right light, with a half finger of slow-forming white head (nice looking carbonation when you swirl) that quickly resolves down into a cap that then sticks around for a bit. Smells very nice, vinous fruit, oak, yep there's that honey, definitely some Tired Hands house saison character, spicy with some funky earth. Taste starts off very sweet, lots of vinous fruit and honey, just a bit of that spicy saison yeast, with a tart, lemony finish. Mouthfeel falls down a bit in the carbonation arena; there's enough that it's still quite good and drinkable, but perhaps with some age, the carbonation will perk up a bit. I am, as always, overly sensitive to this sort of thing, so make of this what you will. Otherwise, it's quite bright and medium bodied, a little too sticky (though again, that's probably a carbonation thing). Overall, this is a pretty solid saison, reminds me of hanging out at the brew cafe (though I guess why wouldn't it?), and it's quite tasty. I'm thinking this could be fantastic with some age on it. For right now, B+

Beer Nerd Details: ? ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a wine glass on 11/7/15.

Pourison

Pourison - So Tired Hands takes their standard SaisonHands, bottle conditions it in green bottles and calls it Ourison (see below). This beer is SaisonHands conditioned atop Peaches and then bottled in their more standard 500 ml brown bottles. Pours a hazy but radiant straw yellow color with a finger of white head. Smell has that Tired Hands foudre character, oak and funk, some stone fruit too. Taste has a light funk and fruit feel to it, breezy and tart, vinous fruit pitching in here too, finishing off with those peaches. Mouthfeel is light bodied, crisp, mild but pleasant acidity, quaffable. Overall, this is a nice little number, perhaps not quite Emptiness levels awesome, but still worth the stretch. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 4.8% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a flute on 11/29/15.

Corallet

Corallet - Pretty standard foudred saison setup here, with some rye and wheat. Pours a pale straw yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells funky, a little saison spice and earth. Taste has some tart fruit going on here, maybe sour cherry, but very light, hints of funky earth and maybe a bit of oak. Mouthfeel is crisp and light bodied, very slight acidity, quaffable. Overall, a solid little foudred saison, but not much to separate it from the pack. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5.3% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a flute on 12/25/15.

Ourison

Ourison - Basically bottle conditioned SaisonHands. Pours a hazy yellow color with a finger of white head and a little lacing. Smell has a strange, almost skunky aroma going on along with the more typical saison spice and tart fruit. The skunkiness fades a bit as I drink, but it was there. Not sure if this was intentional or not (it's bottled in green glass), but I'll have to check out another batch or something as most reviews don't seem to mention this. Taste is sweet with a little yeasty spice, and a nice, light tartness (no skunky character here). Mouthfeel is medium to low carbonation, very light, quaffable, and dry. Overall, not sure about that skunky note, but otherwise this is good. B- or B?

Beer Nerd Details: 4.8% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a teku on 1/1/16.

Oat Potion

Oat Potion - Saison brewed with oats and NY wildflower honey, a collaboration with NY's Other Half. Pours a cloudy straw yellow color with finger of white head that leaves a bit of lacing. Smells of vinous fruit, white wine, oak, and funk. Taste starts off sweet, hits those vinous fruit notes hard, then oak, followed by some earthy funk and finishing with a tart note. Mouthfeel is crisp, light, well carbonated, very light acidity. Overall, this is actually the best bottled Tired Hands beer in a while. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.3% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a flute on 1/24/16.

Parageusia47

Parageusia47 - Typical trippy backstory for the Para series, but this is basically a Mosaic dry hopped saison/IPA hybrid aged in Vin Santo barrels with Para microflora. Pours a cloudy yellow color with tons of fluffy, bubbly head, good retention, and even a little lacing. Smells great, citrusy American hops are all over the nose, along with vinous fruit, sweet candi sugar, maybe hints of funk and oak. Taste feels oddly muted, but all the components are there. Sweet, fruity, with those citrus hops hitting pretty hard, but not as much in the way of oak as expected, a light tartness in the finish. Mouthfeel is light bodied, crisp, and dry, yet it retains a sizable acidity. Overall, I can never really seem to get on board the hoppy sour train, but this works ok enough. It just doesn't really stand up to the other Parageusia beers. B+

Beer Nerd Details: [unintelligible symbol from the future] ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a flute on 1/24/16.

Phew, that just about covers it. I'm sure many good things to come from Tired Hands, so stay tuned. Also, if you're going to the Fermentaria Anniversary, give me a shout...

Aged Beer Jamboree

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Over the past several months, I've been dipping into my cellar to try out some aged beer. You may have noticed a few of these showing up on the blog already, but I've been keeping a running log of some of the less unique bottles I've opened as well. Some of these were aged intentionally, some were just sitting in the back of my fridge or in my basement for far too long. What can I say, sometimes my eyes are bigger than my liver. My cellar isn't as insane as many you'll see out there, but it's getting sizable, so I sometimes try to take a break from keeping up with the new releases and check out some of these old suckers.

There's something very romantic about aged booze, I think, but with beer it's a bit of a dicey proposition. It's rare that I've had a beer get better over time. It can certainly be different, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's also not usually what you expect. It's worth trying, but if you ever find yourself with a nice bottle of something that might age well, drink it fresh. If you can snag another bottle, age that. If not, just be happy you got your hands on a fresh bottle. Let's take a closer look at some of these:

2014 Abyss

2014 Deschutes Abyss - Finally got around to drinking one of these Deschutes beers after their "Best After" date (usually a year in the future when they release the beer). Pours a deep black color with a finger of light brown head, very nice. Smell brings a lot of the non-stoutlike elements to the fore, vinous fruit, caramel, anise, liquorice, vanilla, maybe even some dank hops. Taste starts with rich caramel, moves right on to more fruity notes, followed by a wallop of dry hop bitterness. As it warms, I get hints of that roasted malt character that I found much more prominent in fresh Abyss. Mouthfeel is full bodied, well carbonated, more dry than I remember it being fresh. Overall, I don't know that it's improved with age exactly, but it feels very different and it's certainly not worse, making it an interesting candidate for aging. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 11.1% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a teku glass on 1/31/16. Best After: 11/10/15.

Firestone Walker XV - Anniversary Ale

2011 Firestone Walker XV Anniversary Ale - My first Anniversary Ale, this one lives up to my memory. A bottle shop recently celebrated their anniversary or something by releasing a bunch of aged beer, and I managed to snag this one (so it hasn't been sitting in my cellar for quite so long, probably wouldn't have lasted!) Age has treated it well, though I don't think it's any better than it was back in the day. With time, it's got a little less zip, but the flavors have blended together more. It still feels very barleywineish, lots of dark fruit, rich caramel, some nice barrel character. Overall, this was worth aging and is doing well these days, but it was probably still a little better when it was fresh. This is probably good advice overall for the Firestone Anniversary beers - worth aging, but not at the expense of drinking it fresh. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 12.5% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 1/1/16.

Plead the 5th Stout

2013 Dark Horse Plead the 5th Stout - This has held up well. The intense roasty character is much faded, only really revealing itself in the finish. In its place we get caramel and an almost dark fruit note, like port wine or something. This hasn't really been my favorite stout, but it holds up well. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 11% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a snifter on 1/30/16.

Angel's Share 2011

2011 Lost Abbey Angel's Share - Bourbon Barrel Aged - The first time I had this, I thought it was a bit hot and could use some aging. Fortuitously, I came into a bottle not long after, and promptly hid it away in my basement and basically forgot about it. What was lost was found, so I figured 4 years was long enough to age the sucker. Wow, just look at that head. Yes, this was before Lost Abbey got their carbonation game on track. Fortunately, this is a tasty beer. Age is definitely showing, some oxidation apparent, but it still smells and tastes great. Great dark fruit character matches well with the bourbon barrel treatment, reminiscent of early Bruery Anniversary beers. Age definitely mellowed the booze, though perhaps not as much time is actually needed to accomplish that feat. Carbonation is an issue for me. Verdict: Uncertain! Newer vintages are better carbonated and might hold up better. I'd say 1-2 years is ideal aging time. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 12% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 11/24/15.

Smoketome!

2013 Fantôme Saison - From the Smoketôme era, I was curious to see if the smokey, burnt latex funk worked itself out over time. The answer? Nope! I suppose it's probably mellowed some, but I feel like all the elements mellowed, so the smoke is still there in the same proportion as before. Like my other bottle, this isn't dominated by the smoke, and it adds a sort of complexity rather than straight burning latex and bandaids (as some of the worst Smoketomes exhibited). I really wish I had saved some of my first bottles of Fantome though, from the 2009-2010 era, as those were really special, even if I had no idea what I was drinking at the time. If you've got a smoketome, I say hold on to it. Let's see how that bitch tastes in 5-10 years, eh? C+

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (750 ml capped and corked). Drank out of a wine glass on 11/30/15.

Merry Monks 2010

2010 Weyerbacher Merry Monks - Back in 2010, I bought a variety case of Weyerbacher, and promptly found myself disappointed by this beer. I gave it a few tries, but this one just sat around for, well, 5 years I guess. It was time. Pours a cloudy golden orange color with a finger of white head. Smells sweet, lots of raisins, maybe a hint of spice. Taste is again very sweet, and again has tons and tons of raisins. Mouthfeel is well carbonated but almost creamy in texture, really nice, but as it warms, a boozy note hits pretty hard. Overall, this is maybe an improvement over the regular, but I'm not really a fan of either. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 9.3% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a tulip glass on 12/11/15. Bottled 11/23/10. Best By: 11/23/12.

Founders Breakfast Stout 2010

2010 Founders Breakfast Stout - Pours a pitch black color with a gorgeous light brown head. Smells of coffee and creme and more coffee, roasty coffee, spent coffee grounds, did I mention coffee? Taste features lots of that roasty character, less intense coffee here but it's still pretty prominent. Coffee is supposed to fade over time, but this is still pretty intense, even more out of balance than when fresh. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, a little thin actually, though it feels more full as it warms. Overall, I like this and it's held up remarkably well, but it's still not a massive improvement over the base, which seems more balanced. B

Beer Nerd Details: 8.3% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a tulip glass on 12/11/15.

Of course, this barely puts a dent in the cellar, so after this semi-hiatus from beer, expect to see some more of these aged beer reviews. In the meantime, I've got some wine, bourbon, and Scotch coming your way. And maybe a few more beer posts peppered in...

Civil Disobedience #14

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I have been very fortunate to have sampled deeply from the Hill Farmstead catalog, but the grand majority of my experience has been with their highly sought after IPAs and their saisons. When it comes to barrel aging, I've not had much at all. A small bit of Flora at a tasting once, maybe one of their collaborations, but otherwise not so much. Thus, when I lucked into Civil Disobedience #14 during my last visit, I was quite excited. Per early reviews, the carbonation was still developing, and knowing the way I generally react to such a thing, I decided to sit on the bottle for a few months (and yes, the carbonation was indeed fine when I drank this).

Civil Disobedience is a "Blended Barrel Series" and this is the 14th batch (most batches are pale like this one, but every 4th batch tends to be a darker blend). This batch is a blend consisting primarily of barrel aged Anna and Florence from Summer 2012 through Summer 2013. It was bottled in January 2015 and released on July 8, 2015, so it appears the beer spent quite some time in the barrels (16 to 30 months). I have never managed to wrangle Anna, but I bought two cases of Florence a couple years ago and it has developed into one of my go-to saisons, very light, but tart, perky, and delicious. So let's brush up on our Thoreau and stage a nonviolent beer drinking session:

Civil Disobedience #14

Hill Farmstead Civil Disobedience #14 - Pours a hazy yellow color with a finger of big bubbled head that is not long for this world. Smells very nice, light funk, musty and earthy, lots of vinous fruit, some more tart, lemony character, maybe a little oak. Taste is sweet, lots of vinous fruit, tannins, a nice moderate sourness, well balanced oak. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, moderate acidity, a little dryness up front, but more sticky in the finish. Overall, this is some fabulous stuff. A

Beer Nerd Details: ? ABV (somewhere around 5.5-6%) bottled (375 ml). Drank out of a charente glass on 2/5/16. Bottled: 01 2015. Batch 14.

I have to say, these Hill Farmstead saisons seem to age pretty well. 2014 Florence is drinking fabulously right now, and I'm betting bottles of 2015 Arthur are starting to peak too. Dorothy's hop character is fading (and I don't think I have any left), but it's still pretty good anyway. Counting the days until my next trip, which is vexingly vague right now (though definitely a trip in July, we may figure out an earlier jaunt).

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Saison category.

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