Recently in Saison Category

Casita Cerveceria Del Árboles

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Casita Cerveceria is a contract brewery (funny and yet welcome that they don't go for the formerly trendy "Gypsy" designation) mostly based at Hill Farmstead. Let that sink in for a moment. It turns out that brewer Ryan Witter-Merithew has a long history with Sean Hill, having collaborated on Hill's initial run of Grassroots beers in Europe as well as working together at Denmark's Fanø Bryghus. Heck, rumor has it that Hill considered him a sort of unofficial successor in case of tragedy ("I told my brother Darren that if I died or something he should reach out to Ryan and have Ryan take over the brewery."). After a stint at England's Siren brewing (where he again collaborated with Hill Farmstead on that Lemon Cello IPA), Witter-Merithew returned to the US to work at Hill Farmstead for a spell, and now he's heading up his own operation, using some of the excess capacity from Hill's recent expansion.

My one prior exposure to Casita Cerveceria beer was something I didn't even realize at the time, a collaboration with Stillwater called On Fleek, a big 13% Imperial Stout that was wonderful (I neglected to take notes whilst drinking because I was not expecting it to be anything particularly special - I was wrong, because I am the worst).

Del Árboles (Spanish for "The Trees" and featuring a nifty, anthropomorphized evergreen on the label) is a saison brewed with Juniper, Pine, and Cedar. It's also brewed in collaboration with another contract brewery operation centered in Vermont called Wunderkammer. The label sez: Del Árboles tienen ojos, meaning that the trees have eyes. Ok, this is getting scary, let's see how it stacks up:

Casita Cerveceria Del Arboles

Casita Cerveceria Del Árboles - Pours a hazy golden orange color with a finger of white head and ok retention. Smells fabulous, lots of funky, fruity twang, some more earthy notes, a healthy dose of oak. Taste starts sweet, some spicy phenols, earthy funk but not quite barnyard (perhaps the spruce and juniper give it a fruity, floral kick), finishing with a well balanced sourness and oak. I say oak, but I can't find anything saying it's barrel aged, so perhaps it's cedar? I don't know cedar well. Whatever, it has the character of something barrel aged. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, highly carbonated and dry up front, but that lessens as the sour acidity takes over in the finish. Overall, this is a very well done saison in the Hill Farmstead mold and certainly compares favorably, which is high praise indeed. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (375 ml). Drank out of a wine glass on 9/16/16. Brewed in May 2016.

Two beers, two winners. So yes, this is a brewery to look out for. I know I will be hunting down more as soon as possible. Alas, I only have more of this beer readily available. I know, boo hoo, right?

Hill Farmstead Table Dorothy

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So if Shaun Hill was such a big fan of the Golden Girls and if this beer is brewed with wheat, wouldn't it be better named Blanche? What's that? It's named after a family member? Well that makes more sense. Thank you for being a friend.

What we have here is a low alcohol version of regular Dorothy, their Citra dry-hopped saison made with wheat and Brett. This one drops the alcohol down to 4.5%, but is supposed to otherwise be the same. The concept of a "table" beer, something appropriate for anytime drinking in a wide variety of circumstances often served with food, is great, but a little rough when it comes to a smallish brewery like Hill Farmstead. That being said, if I had an inexhaustible supply of this stuff, I'd be a happy camper. As it is, I traveled down the road and back again to get some bottles:

Hill Farmstead Table Dorothy

Hill Farmstead Table Dorothy - Pours a hazy straw yellow color with copious, bubbly white head that sticks around for a while and leaves a bit of lacing as I drink. Smells of spicy farmhouse yeast, a little funky earthiness, some fruity esters peeking out and complementing a light citrus hop character. Taste hits a cereal note, earthy minerals, only a hint of funk, a little bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is light bodied, highly carbonated, crisp, bone dry, and eminently quaffable. Overall, this is a very well done light saison with hints of hops, but less farmhouse than I'm used to from HF. Really solid and crushable. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 4.5% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/9/16. Bottled: 2016 07 07

Luckily, I did buy a few bottles of this stuff so I think maybe I can use it as a table beer. Only for a couple of dinners, but hey, better than nothing. No more Hill Farmstead in the immediate pipeline, but an adjacent brew that holds much interest, so buck up, fair readers. More fun incoming soon enough.

Tired Hands Bottle & Can Directory

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The other day, someone posted a thread on Facebook asking folks to post their top two breweries with the highest count of unique beers tasted (Untappd helps keep track of this sort of thing). For me, number two was Victory with 60 different brews.

Not too shabby, but regular readers (all 3 of you) who remember my epic recaps of hundreds of Tired Hands beers might guess that brewery would place number one. And they'd be correct! How correct? Oh, you know, something to the tune of 356 different beers. That's all. Ok, fine, before you start preparations for my intervention, there are a few mitigating factors. One is that, according to Untappd, there are 975 different Tired Hands beers (Beer Advocate only lists 769 beers though). So I haven't even had half of them! Second, the grand majority of these have been 4 or 8 ounce pours, with the occasional bottle and very rare pint (i.e. there were times where I've visited and had the equivalent of two pints, but that's 8 beers in 4 ounce increments). Finally, this is over the course of three years and while I used to pop over to Tired Hands every week, I've slowed my roll considerably of late.

Anywho, I've mostly given up on writing up notes when I visit, but I do tend to take note of their bottled offerings, so I'll probably continue posting these roundups from time to time, even if they're nowhere near as comprehensive as they once were. I've also managed to snag some cans from time to time, but they're generally released on Wednesdays at 4 pm or 5 pm and I have this thing called a job that prevents me from waiting in line for a few hours. I know, priorities, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Some of these are more detailed tasting notes, and others are more general observations, so take them with the appropriate mountain of salt.

Tired Hands Only Void Single-Origin Awake Minds Ethiopian Coffee

Tired Hands Only Void (Single-Origin Awake Minds Ethiopian Coffee) - Cold conditioned on heavy amounts of Awake Minds Ethiopian coffee from ReAnimator Coffee - I feel like people slept on this release, as I just kinda walked up an hour after the release had started and snagged a couple four packs. You all know I'm not a big coffee person and while this doesn't exactly change my mind, it was a superb example of the style. Tons of roast and coffee, rich, intense but incredibly well balanced. Not sure how these cans are drinking now (released in April), but worth looking out for the next release. Since I didn't take formal notes and it's been several months, I'll refrain from rating, but I figured it was worth mentioning.

Tired Hands Living With Ourselves As We Are

Tired Hands Living With Ourselves As We Are - French oak fermented wheat Saison conditioned on heaps of Meyer lemon purée - Pours a very pale straw yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells of tart fruit, those lemons coming through here, but a nice dollop of funk and oak pairs well. Taste has a nice sweet backbone, plenty of tart fruit, again with the lemons, but maybe some other fruity notes making themselves known (vinous fruit?) and plenty of oak, finishing on those sour lemons. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, moderately sour, quite well balanced. Overall, this is very nice, one of the better bottles of the year... A-

Beer Nerd Details: ??% ABV bottle (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 7/16/16.

Tired Hands Rustic Pentagram

Tired Hands Rustic Pentagram - Sour Mango Saison. Brewed with Wheat. Hopped with Amarillo. Fermented in one of our large French oak foudres. Conditioned atop freshly made mango purée. - Had this at the Fermentaria anniversary and loved it, but it's even better out of the bottle. Pours a very pale, almost radiant yellow color, only slightly hazy, with a finger of white head that leaves some lacing. Smells amazing, a beautiful funk character mixed with a well balanced mango aroma and some oak playing go-between. Taste is sweet up front, with those mangos coming through strong, almost immediately followed by a big sour bite, then comes something a little more earthy, funky, almost cheesy and gueuze-like, and a well balanced oaky streak ties the whole thing together, finishing with another sour bite. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, moderate to high acidity, but very well balanced. Overall, this is spectacular, best TH bottle in a while. A

Beer Nerd Details: 6.9% ABV bottle (750 ml). Drank out of a wine glass on 7/29/16.

Tired Hands Pineal
(Click to Embiggen)

Pineal - Have had this a few times on tap, one of Tired Hands' first recurring IPAs (and by recurring, it's like, once a year for the first two years? Though more often since they've started canning), it's always struck me as a pretty standard Tired Hands IPA. Fantastic, especially when compared to most other breweries, but not quite top tier TH single IPA. In the can? It's cloudier and juicier, I rather like it better. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of the can, like a man, on 7/31/16.

Tired hands Milkshake IPA
(Click to Embiggen)

Tired Hands Milkshake IPA - I went over the origins of this before in discussing the Northeast IPA, basically an IPA brewed with lactose, wheat flour, and strawberries - Pours a turbid, chicken broth looking pale yellow color with a finger of white head (I poured some out to see, but drank most out of the can). Smells great, huge wafts of juicy citrus, pineapple, orange, vanilla. Taste hits those big juicy citrus notes hard, lactose sweetness, mild bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is full bodied, thick, and chewy, well carbonated, did I mention thick? Overall, surprisingly enough, this is absolutely delicious. A

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of the can, like a man, on 7/30/16.

Tired Hands Believers Club Bottle 1

Tired Hands Believer's Club Bottle 1 - Fermented and conditioned with our magickal Saison yeast in French oak barrels. It was conditioned atop a copious amount of mango at a rate of one and a half pounds per gallon of beer and then dry hopped with Mosaic. - Pours a slightly hazy but still radiant straw yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells great, lots of musty funk, stone fruit, mangos, oak. Taste is sweet and tart up front, some of that mango showing itself, followed by some earthy notes and oak, finishing on that sour mango swerve. Mouthfeel is medium to light bodied, a tad lower on carbonation, moderate acidity, all very well balanced. Overall, this is fabulous, very, very similar to Rustic Pentagram and I could see it growing more complex over time too. We're splitting hairs here, so let's just go A- for now, though I'm guessing it will continue to evolve over time.

Beer Nerd Details: ??% ABV bottle (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 9/2/16.

Tired Hands ROOMARAK

Tired Hands ROOMARAK - Saison brewed with local Deer Creek Malthouse barley and wheat, fermented and aged in a Vin Santo foudre with a ton of Merlot grapes from local Karamoor Winery - Pours a striking reddish orange color, robey tones, very little head that doesn't stick around at all. Smells very nice, musty funk, vinous fruit, oak. Taste hits that vinous fruit character hard, apparently that Merlot making itself known, even getting some wine tannin here, a little oak, finishing with a sour bite. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, only mildly acidic. Overall, an interesting wine/beer hybrid and a tasty beer. B+ or A-

Beer Nerd Details: ??% ABV bottle (750 ml). Drank out of a wine glass on 9/3/16.

Phew, I think that's enough for now. Next up on the Tired Hands bottle front: Parageuisia 6 and 7 are being released this Sunday. If you are in the area, it's worth trying to snag a bottle, they're wonderful.

Hill Farmstead Dry Hopped Arthur

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Farmhouse yeast! Well water! Segal Ranch Cascades! The reanimated corpse of Sean Hill's grand-uncle Arthur! YOU WON'T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!

Ugh, stupid Mark. Clickbait goes in the headline, not the body of the post. I'm the worst. You know what's not the worst? Hill Farmstead! They are, in fact, the best. Arthur is one of their flagship saisons and this particular bottle went through an additional dry-hopping process with, you guessed it, Segal Ranch Cascades. They're really cornering the market in Cascade hops you guys. Let's see how much that treatment impacted the base (hint: not much, but who cares):

Hill Farmstead Dry Hopped Arthur

Hill Farmstead Dry Hopped Arthur - Segal Ranch Cascade - Pours a slightly hazy, very pale yellow gold color with a finger of white, fluffy head and decent retention. Smells great, typical Hill farmhouse character, fruity, hints of that dry hopping contributes additional resinous citrus notes, but it's really quite subtle (very much like... regular Arthur). Taste starts sweet, hits a nice tart fruit character, lemony, a little farmhouse in the middle, maybe a little of that citrus and resin hop character, but it's very, very subtle, finishing on a clean lactic sourness. Mouthfeel is crisp, light bodied, and refreshing. A little more acidic (lactic, not at all acetic) than I remember, but no worse for it, it's actually very refreshing. Overall, yep, it's Arthur all right; the dry-hopping is quite subtle, but nice. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a charente glass on 8/27/16. Bottled: 2016 06 30 DH (that appears to be the only indicator of the dry hopping process on the label).

Oh, another world-class saison from Hill Farmstead? Go figure. Stay tuned, we've got a couple other Hill Farmstead (or HF adjacent) efforts on the way.

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...

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

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