Recently in Saison Category

Boulevard Saison-Brett

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There are beers that I pine after (like any good beer nerd) that would rightly be called a White Wale. In the past, I've mentioned the sort of arbitrary, moving goalpost nature of White Whale beers, which leads neckbearded tickers to call stuff like Black Tuesday a Khaki Wale (unless you snag the 2009 vintage, in which case you're totally slayin walez, bro), but a beer like this wouldn't really even qualify for that dubious honor. It's mildly limited and PA is not in Boulevard's distribution, so there is that, but it's not a beer that lights fires, except in that certain corner of beer dorkery occupied by saison addicts. But this does happen to be my corner of dorkery, so why has it taken so long for me to procure a bottle of this stuff? I don't have a good answer, but I did finally manage to drink a bottle, so let's get to it, shall we. This is Boulevard's Tank 7 saison that's been conditioned on Brettanomyces for 3 months, and it's one of the better examples of Brett Saisons out there:

Boulevard Saison-Brett

Boulevard Saison-Brett - Pours a slightly hazy, light yellow color with massive amounts of whispy head. The smell is pure funk, musty, earthy, spicy, floral, and even a little fruity. The taste has a nice Belgian yeast character, fruity esters and spicy phenols, banana and clove, but then that funk shows up and starts trashing the place with it's earthy, musty, barnyardy, flowery goodness. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated and efferevescent, dry, light body but still substantial enough that it carries its weight and can stand up to food. Sometimes dry beers with high carbonation tend to be dominated by the mouthfeel, but in this case, those characteristics seem to pull out the flavor rather than mask it. It's complex enough to keep the jaded beer dorks interested, but approachable enough that anyone who likes Belgian pales will probably get a kick out of it. Overall, this is indeed a very good funky beer and probably my favorite Boulevard offering to date. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a flute on 6/27/14. 2014 vintage. Batch Number: SB14058-1. Best By Date: 02-2016.

It's always nice to tick that long unticked box, and it's nice to see what all the fuss is about.

Like any good craft brewery, the fine folks at Tired Hands like to collaborate. These often show up at the brewpub (and presumably at the collaborator's brewery), but a couple of recent instances involved Jean traveling to Europe and working with various kindred spirits to produce some stuff that would be bottled and then imported. I've totally been slacking on these, so I figured it was time to catch up with them.

Crushable Saison

Brasserie de la Senne and Tired Hands Crushable Saison - This was basically a hoppy saison. Pours a cloudy but bright straw yellow color (very typical of Tired Hands) with huge amounts of fluffy, bubbly head that sticks around for a while and leaves lots of lacing (perhaps not as common for Tired Hands - they tend to be lighter in carbonation than this appears). Smells of grassy citrus hops (I get some standard Euro hop feel here, but also some straightforward American hops, like Cascade or Simcoe or something like that), some light peppery yeast, clove, and a little fruity kick too. The taste features a similar quality, lots of Belgian yeast character, very light spicy notes (pepper and clove), hints of fruity esters, and some grassy citrus hops (maybe a bit of hop bitterness in the finish). Mouthfeel is highly carbonated and effervescent, very light body on this, and it is super dry. Given the name, I think they've achieved their goal though: it's super quaffable and yes, emminently crushable. Overall, this is a nice, delicate, quaffable saison. It's not going to light the world on fire, but I could drink a couple gallons of this stuff, which, seems to be what they were going for. It's not a glamorous face melter, but it's the sort of thing you could probably expect to be pouring at the brewpub on most visits. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (11.2 oz). Drank out of a flute on 6/20/14. Bottled 10/10/13. Best By 10/10/14

Lost and Found

De Molen and Tired Hands Lost & Found - Check out these pics of Jean and Menno grooving at the De Molen brewery. This is a hoppy black ale fermented with 100% Brett. I can't tell if oak was involved, but I didn't really get much oak out of the taste. Pours a turbid brown color with a finger of tan head. Smells of Brett funk, a little fruity, citrus and pine hops (maybe a little faded, yielding more piney notes), with some dark malt presence and a hint of tartness. The taste has more of that tart fruitiness, and that dark malt character comes on much stronger. Some earthy funk too. The hops seem a little lost in the taste, or at least not as harmonious as in the nose. Mouthfeel is really strange, grainy, a little astringency from that tartness, medium carbonation, medium body. Overall, there's some nice elements here, but the balance is a little off, and the disparate elements don't really come together as well as I'd hoped. It's not unpleasant or anything, but it was a little disappointing. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.6% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/20/14. Bottled 27 Nov 2013 (I think that's the bottling date).

Both are imported by Shelton Brothers, so they should be out and about. Of the two, I'd recommend Crushable Saison much more, as it's more representative of their style... and cheaper too! That being said, if you are ever in the Philly area, it's worth making the detour out to Ardmore to visit the brewpub (but given my general enthusiasm for Tired Hands on this here blog, I probably don't need to tell you that).

June Beer Club

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Tonight was beer club! For the uninitiated, beer club is a gathering of beer-minded individuals from my workplace who get together once a month for beer and revelry at a local BYOB. This time around, we returned to an Indian/Thai restaurant and despite a medium turnout, had much in the way of fun.

June Beer Club Lineup

For the sake of posterity, I'm documenting my nearly incoherent thoughts on each beer below, which is my way of saying that you should not trust any of these ratings because as we've established recently, I'm the worst. In order of drinking (not necessarily the order pictured above):

  • Red Star Zingerbuch Kombucha - So the first beer of the night... was not beer! This is some sort of bizarre fermented tea concoction with ginger and hibiscus. It was very aromatic, flowery, and ginger aley. It was not exactly my bag, but this is the perfect setting for weird crap like this. No rating because I don't even really know what this is.
  • Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale - Basically a palate cleanser, and a beer I've already covered before. B+
  • Founders All Day IPA - So the new trend is to call pale ales a "session IPA" or something like that? Ok, whatever, this is a pretty solid example, and I could probably drink a bunch of these with no complaints. Nice hop presence, but light and quaffable. B+
  • Surly Furious - Ah, now this is an IPA! Surly does not distribute to PA... except during Philly Beer Week. One of our attendees tonight was fortunate enough to attend a Surly event and snag a few cans, and generous enough to share with the rest of us. I've heard so many great things about Surly that I was afraid they wouldn't live up to the hype, but this is indeed a really fantastic IPA. Citrus and lots of pine and resinous hops, but exceedingly well balanced stuff, lots of hops and enough crystal malts that it didn't feel super bitter despite being 99 IBU. Probably the best beer of the night. I'll leave it at A- territory for now, but I definitely want to get some more of this (it could warrant an upgrade).
  • Kaedrôme Saison - Dammit, this still has not carbonated as much as I'd like, but it is still a tasty beer, light on the funk, but still a nice peppery saison flavor. I'm guessing that if it hasn't carbonated much by now, it's not going to get much better... which is fine, since I probably only have 6-12 bottles of the stuff left. B
  • Ken's Homebrewed Chile Beer - Made with chile peppers and smoked malt, this sucker was spicy but flavorful. Not really my thing, but it's an interesting beer, and certainly not the abomination that Cave Creek Chili Beer was...
  • Lost Abbey Carnevale - A Brett does saison? Sign me up, this was one of my favorites of the night. Nice fruity, earthy funk pervading the whole thing, a pleasure to drink. It's no Logsdon or anything, but it's really nice. A high B+
  • Southern Tier Compass - Perhaps it was just because we opened it towards the end of the night, but this felt exceedingly bland to me, with the only real dominant note being the flowery aromas and flavors. Not really my thing. C
  • Brooklyn Wild Streak - A belgian strong pale aged in Bourbon barrels with Brett? Well ok then. The Brett has a minimal, but still detectable presence. But the taste is more dominated by that pale ale aged in bourbon barrel character that never really works as well for me as it does for stouts or barleywines. It's fine for what it is, but it's not really my thing. B-
  • Kaedrin Bomb & Grapnel (Blend) - The imperial stout is doing quite well. This blend has faint hints of the bourbon and oak, but nothing like a BBA stout. That being said, it's delicious and only getting better over time. I'll still leave it at a B+
And that is all for now. We will probably return to regular blogging next week, so stay tuned.

Philly Beer Week Recap

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As per usual, I did not have my act together for this year's Philly Beer Week, and thus only went to a few events. For whatever reason, this week always seems to sneak up on me and I'm always caught unprepared. I'm the worst. That being said, I did manage to snag a few pretty interesting beers, so here's a quick recap. First stop was the venerable Philly institution Monk's Cafe:

Monks Cafe

The event was all about collaborations, most of which involved Monk's very own Tom Peters... First up was the next entry in the whole PNC collaboration series (last year's collaboration yielded Firestone Walker PNC, a most spectacular beer). This release comes to us from Maine's Allagash brewing, and this beer actually began its journey over four years ago ("Brewed in April 2010 & racked into oak barrels on May 25, 2010"). In a nice touch, the little beer menu actually included details of each barrel (including a couple that were marked as "DO NOT USE", heh). Click for a larger version:

Allagash PNC Broken Elevator Barrel Details

Allagash PNC Broken Elevator

Allagash PNC Broken Elevator - Dark pour, fluffy tan head... darker than I was expecting, but when you look at the barrel details, that makes sense. Smells oaky, almost chocolaty and very sour, I can almost feel the sourness in my jaw (and I haven't even tasted it yet). Taste is bracingly sour, tart puckering fruit with some dark, chocolaty notes, almost a chocolate covered cherry feel. Mouthfeel is surprisingly full, not like a chewy stout but very big for a sour, which is an interesting feel. Extremely acidic, biting, but still nice... Overall, this is a really interesting, complex, unique, and very sour beer. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8.1% ABV on tap. Drank out of a wine glass on 6/7/14.

So after that, I sampled a few other brews, including another small glass of Firestone's PNC stout (still exceptional, no change from my initial review):

Dock Street Trappiste Style Pale Ale - Inspired by Orval, this is obviously not a clone or anything, but it's nice. It's got a very dry feel, lots of peppery yeast notes, and some earthy funk in the finish. It's a fine beer, but not quite lighting the world on fire. I heard that this beer was actually made for last year's PBW, so perhaps it was better fresh? Not that it's terrible now or anything... B

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV on tap. Drank out of a wine glass on 6/7/14.

Dilewyns Philly Tripel - This is the official Philly Beer Week Collaboration orchestrated by Tom Peters, where one local brewer travels to Belgium to collaborate with a brewery there. This year it was Justin Low from Dock Street who went and collaborated with Anne Catherine Dilewyns from the relatively young Dilewyns brewery (they make Vicaris labeled beers) in Belgium. The result is a relatively straightforward tripel, with some small twists. Pale colored, sticky sweet, lots of honey flavor and fruity esters, less in the way of Belgian yeast spice. This is perhaps not my preferred take on the style, but it's nice. B

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV on tap. Drank out of a wine glass on 6/7/14.

De Molen Rook and Leer

De Molen Rook & Leer - The weirdest, most unique beer of the night, I've never had anything like this before. So get this, we've got an Imperial Smoked Porter base that was aged in whiskey barrels with brettanomyces and Rodenbach yeast. Oh, and it clocks in at 11.5% ABV. Um, yeah, ok. The more amazing thing: It actually works. Neither the smoke nor the sourness dominates, leading to an extremely complex beer. Usually high ABV sours don't work so well for me, but this one is just very well balanced. It's certainly odd, and I think the fact that this was originally brewed in 2011 has helped the flavors mesh together (and perhaps even mellow out some). It's a weird beer to rate, but I'll give it a A-, but maybe I was a bit far gone at this point.

Beer Nerd Details: 11.5% ABV on tap. Drank out of a wine glass on 6/7/14.

By this time, I was doing pretty well, so I slowed down a bit, got a table with some friends and ate some dinner. I did have a glass of Pliny the Elder, which was great as always, though I'm starting to see where the contrarians are coming. Naturally, I had some mussels, and as usual, they were fantastic. We also got a plate of Frog's Legs, which were basically a lot like chicken wings (I've had Frog's Legs before, but never like this).

At this point, we took our leave of Monk's and headed over to the Good Dog Bar & Restaurant, which is a great little place about a block over from Monk's. Well worth a visit if you're ever in Philly, and they also have great food (I'm pretty sure they've been featured on one of them Food Network shows at some point). They were having a Firestone Walker event and included this rarity, which I assumed would never make its way out East:

Firestone Walker Helldorado

Firestone Walker Helldorado - So you know how Firestone does that Anniversary blend where they invite a bunch of local winemakers to their brewery and set them loose on a bunch of barrel aged beers? Many of the component brews are available in bottled form, but most seem to be relative rarities, and Helldorado is one of those. I was shocked to see it at this event and immediately got myself a glass of the stuff. Alas, this is perhaps not my favorite style. It's described as Blonde Barleywine brewed with Honey, and boy can you really tell. It's extremely sticky sweet, with that honey coming through strong. It's supposed to be brewed with El Dorado hops, but I get almost no hop character out of this, so I'm guessing it was a light touch (or just used to balance out that intense sweetness). It's definitely a big, boozy bomb of a beer, and it's got a full body. However, something about the way light colored beers react in bourbon barrels is just not as exciting to me as when you get a darker base beer (the picture above makes Helldorado look darker than it was, though it wasn't super pale either). I mean, it's good, I'm really happy I got to try it, and everyone else who had it seemed to love it, so maybe this is just me, but I'll leave it at a B+ and go from there.

Beer Nerd Details: 12% ABV on tap. Drank out of a wine glass on 6/7/14.

Firestone Walker Lil' Opal - Now this, on the other hand, was way better than I was expecting. It's a toned down ("lil'") saison that's been aged in barrels with Brett and blended with various vintages, and it's fantastic. Granted, this is right up my alley, but I really loved this beer, a great funky saison, fruity, earthy, spicy, almost quaffable (even at this point in the night). It was a refreshing beer to have right after Helldorado, and it totally stood up to those intense flavors as well. Obviously, I was a little far gone at this point, so I'll conservatively rate it an A-, but I need to find me some more of this someday.

Beer Nerd Details: 5.9% ABV on tap. Drank out of a wine glass on 6/7/14.

Firestone Walker Agrestic Ale - Firestone has always been known for barrel fermenting and barrel aging, but they always stuck to non-wild styles, and they apparently greatly feared infections and the like. But when they opened up a completely separate facility, that allowed them to play with all sorts of sour bugs, and we're starting to get the fruits of that labor now (Lil' Opal also came out of that program). This was a really nice, light bodied sour, it reminded me a little of brighter Crooked Stave Origins. Again, I was a little far gone at this point in the night, but I really enjoyed this. I'll give it a B+, but I'd really like to try it again sometime.

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV on tap. Drank out of a wine glass on 6/7/14.

Phew, it's a very good thing I was taking the train home, and while the above does seem like a lot of beer, it was spread out over quite a long time. Again, I need to better prepare for Philly Beer Week next year, so we'll see what happens. That's all for now. Stay tuned for Beer Club tomorrow! (No post on Thursday though, as I didn't really drink much else this past weekend, for obvious reasons!)

Tired Hands Second Anniversary

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It's hard to believe that it's only been two years since Tired Hands arrived on the scene and started melting faces with their amazing saisons and quaffable pale ales, amongst other strange and beautiful beers. To a beer nerd like myself, having a brewery of this quality and with these specialties even remotely close to my home has been a Godsend. Two years of fantastic beer, and the future is looking rather bright.

Like last year, the second anniversary celebration yesterday was a total madhouse, and given what they were pouring, totally worth it! I was fortunate enough to snag a seat at the bar rather early on, and my neighboring bar sitters were a lot of fun, which was great. For the sake of posterity and to instill jealousy in you, my valued readers, some half remembered thoughts (based on hastily entered notes jotted into Evernote that I'm trying to decipher right now) on what I had are below.

The Emptiness Is Not Eternal

The Emptiness is Not Eternal - 7% ABV Oak fermented Sorrel & Dandelion Saison - The Emptiness series of collaborations with rockstar farmer Tom Culton continues with this beautiful oaky sour beer, a little more herbal and floral than previous incarnations (all of which were fruited, to be sure). Someone was saying that this resembled Hill Farmstead Vera Mae, though I feel like this is an entirely different beast (in particular, I think the oakiness of this separates it considerably, though the emptiness bugs that bring the funk are also distinct from whatever HF is using). That's all academic though, as they're both great beers. As Emptiness beers go, I think I prefer the fruited versions, but this is still fantastic. A-

St.Twoer

St.Twoer - 6% ABV Citrus IPA - Brewed with clementines and a wicked combo of Galaxy, Simcoe, and Motueka hops, this greatly resembles St.Oner (though this one has less notes of pun). Beautiful juicy IPA, lots of bright fruit and citrus hops, the $4 pint deal on this was well worth it.

Handfarm - 5% ABV Barrel Fermented Saison - At this point, I think I've had some of every batch of Handfarm. I've always loved it, but I think this is the first time I've ever seen it on tap and hmm, I think I might like it slightly better that way. A nice vinous and fruity funk character with a more balanced oak presence, I could have probably drank this all day. Still an A- in my book.

Tired Hands Only Void Garlic Cask

Only Void - Garlic Cask - 11% ABV Imperial Stout Cask Conditioned on local black garlic (!?) - Tired Hands has made some weird beers and done some wacky cask conditioned stuff before, but this one really takes the cake. Their description on the draft list they handed out: "Wweeeiiiiiiirrrdddddddd!" This is pretty accurate. The garlic comes through very powerfully in the nose, and much less so in the taste. This is a good thing. The nose is actually really interesting, almost like... pizza? Yeah, kinda like that. Roasty chocolate pizza? Er, not sure. It's perhaps not something I would seek out again, but I'm very happy I tried it because it is a billion times better than it sounds. One of those beers that's just fun to experience. No idea how to rate, so I'll just slap a B on it and be done with it.

American Youth - 5.5% ABV APA collaboration with Half Acre - One of two Half Acre collaborations on tap, this one was a quaffable pale ale that is basically comprised of a blend of Daisy Cutter and HopHands, with the result being a very aromatic, very light bodied and refreshing beer. I seem to be saying this about a lot of these beers, but I could have drank this all day. A-

Geodesic - 6.5% ABV Hoppy Spelt Saison - Alright, so I'm not afraid to say that I was pretty far gone by this point, so my memory here is a little hazy. That being said, it was a very nice funky saison, almost sour (but then, my palate may have just been completely wrecked at this point). This was the last beer of the day for me, so take this with a grain of salt, but instinct sez rate it a B+

Alright, so now we get to the weirdest thing of the whole event, which was the Parageusia Bar. For the uninitiated, Jean has been posting cryptic comments about some dude named Christian Zellerfield, described as the "talented Future Rustic contract-brewer", for a while now. No one really knew what was up with this guy or these Parageusia beers we kept hearing about, and the research department here at Kaedrin turned up almost nothing about them (other than Jean's cryptic pronouncements on social media). So at the Anniversary, you could buy two (very pretty) pieces of glassware, which would entitle you to a fill of each of the beers available (Parageusia1 and Parageusia2) at a little popup bar they set up in the tiny little second floor office. Only two people were allowed in at any given time, the room was all dark and moody, and the whole thing was very hush hush. When we got in there, we asked what was up with the beers, and the Euro-accented "representative" (who was not Christian Zellerfield) gave us the skinny: Cabernet Franc Barrel Fermented sour ales, one at 6.5% ABV, the other at 8.2% ABV. We asked where this guy was, and honest to God, his answer was that he was traveling in space, but that he had chosen Tired Hands to be the one place to distribute his beer in the Milky Way Galaxy (to me, this implied that other galaxies were awash in Parageusia beer, but the representative was evasive when I tried to press him on that).

So the rumor is that Jean is basically fucking with us, and this whole thing is an elaborate ruse. Or that Parageusia is real, but basically brewed entirely by Jean and his crew, and this Christian guy is the one who is yanking our chains. Whatever the case may be, it doesn't really matter, because both of these beers were spectacular. And that glassware is beautiful too...

I do not remember how to spell this awesome beer

Parageusia1 - 6.5% ABV Cab Franc Barrel Fermented Ale - Wow, this is an amazing beer, rivaling the best of Tired Hands' output. Very sour, beautiful oaked character, funky, vinous, fruity, absolutely delicious. This was probably my favorite beer of the night. A

This one too, it is para-something

Parageusia2 - 8.2% ABV Cab Franc Barrel Fermented Ale - A slightly darker beer, a little more intense on the sour end of things, perhaps not as great as the Parageusia1, but still really wonderful in its own right (and really close in terms of the flavor profile). A-

The word Parageusia is apparently the medical term for a bad taste in the mouth, which could not be further from the truth. I don't know what the future plans for these beers are, but Jean has teased that bottles are coming, so I will most definitely be keeping an eye out for that. Or whatever this crazy space traveling brewer brings to us in the future (or, perhaps, from the future?)

All in all, it was a fantastic day, though I will note that I was happy I took the train to get there! The only thing I didn't get to try was Negative Creep, an oak fermented Kiwi sour ale (it had not tapped as of my departure around 5 pm). Congrats to Tired Hands on two years of spectacular beer, and things are only looking up from here. The next year should see a new brewery and a corresponding increase in output, which is most exciting. Stay tuned, I plan on continuing to make you jealous.

France is clearly more enamored with wine than beer, but seeing as though they share a border with Belgium, it's not a surprise that French-inspired beers tend to share that rustic farmhouse quality. Supposedly there has been a recent proliferation of smaller breweries making interesting stuff, though I have no real experience with that. And it's not like today's beer is actually from France, though it was made with some strains of French saison yeast (in Erie, PA). It's got wheat and rye in the grain bill, IPA sized American hop additions, and it clocks in at a rather hefty 11.5% ABV. So it's appropriately weird enough to call it a saison. Oh, and this particular batch was aged in 30 year old rum barrels from Jamiaca. The bottle mentions nothing of this treatment , but the waxed cap (and, uh, the guy at the bottle shop) gave it away. I've seen mixed results from barrel aged Belgian styles, but this one seems hefty enough to take on the added complexity without getting overwhelmed. Only one way to find out:

Lavery Rum Barrel Aged Imperial French Ale

Lavery Rum Barrel Aged Imperial French Ale - Pours a murky, turbid golden brown color with a finger or two of large bubbled head that nevertheless manages to stick around for a bit. Smell has a lot of what I'd call Belgian yeast character (or is that French yeast?), spicy and fruity, but also a rich element of booze, presumably the rum and oak coming through. And yes, that rum comes through very strongly in the taste, rich caramel and oak, with tons of rummy booze, especially in the finish. Some general spicy fruity yeast characteristics also come through in the middle, but this is clearly a rum bomb. Mouthfeel is rich, nearly full bodied, and very, very boozy. Lots of alcohol heat from that rum. Overall, what we have here is a pretty unbalanced brew. That rum and barrel character come through well and I like that about it, but it's perhaps a bit too hot for its own good (the base is perhaps a bit too dry to really stand up to the barrel). Still a worthy and interesting brew, I've not really had anything like this before... B

Beer Nerd Details: 11.5% ABV bottled (750 ml red waxed cap). Drank out of a tulip glass on 5/23/14.

Lavery continues to be an interesting little brewery, and I'd love to try some more from their barrel program... and I'll probably grab a bottle of Liopard Oir next time I see it.

The Icon Series is Texas brewer Saint Arnold's experimental line, a chance to try one off beers unlike the normal stuff they make. This particular entry in that series is difficult to pin down. The beer itself says its a saison, and Ratebeer agrees. Beer Advocate calls it a Bière de Garde, which isn't entirely inaccurate (it is a more malt-forward take on a farmhouse ale). The label itself sez it combines "the richness of a winter ale" with a saison yeast, which is probably the best description yet. Personally, I found myself thinking "Dubbel" whilst imbibing, though that's not entirely correct either. I'll just settle on dark saison because it's not like this sort of style dysphoria hasn't struck before. And I kinda love that about saisons.

Saint Arnold Icon Series: Bière De Saison

Saint Arnold Icon Series: Bière De Saison - Pours a cloudy dark amber color with nice highlights at the edge of the glass, visible sediment, and a finger of head. Not your typical saison appearance, but then, it's also not that unusual. The nose is all Belgian yeast, leaning more towards the fruity banana esters than the spicy clove phenols. The taste has an ample malt presence, dark candi sugar, lots of that fruity Belgian yeast and some spice too. As it warms, the spice comes through more. It smells and tastes more akin to a dubbel or quadrupel than a saison (or a Bière De Garde), though it's not quite in full bore Belgian strong dark territory either. It's an interesting middle-ground this beer has discovered. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, well carbonated, a little spicy, and just a hint of sticky booze. Overall, this is a really nice malt and yeast forward Belgian beer, somewhere between a strong saison and a dubbel. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV bottled (12 oz.) Drank out of a tulip glass on 5/16/14.

So I've had 3 Saint Arnold beers, each of which rated a B+ in my book, which is enough to make me wish they actually distributed up here, though I apparently have no problem getting unsolicited bottles in trades and BIFs and whatnot...

Stillwater Classique

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Ensconced in the loving cocoon of craft beer, it's easy to forget that the grand majority of beer that is consumed out in the real world is mass-produced, industrial adjunct lagers. People suck that stuff down like it's water. It's easy to turn up our noses at a low ABV beer that has the gall to use flavorless adjuncts like rice and corn, but those beers have their place, and it's not like a "cheap" malt bill like that can't make for a great beer.

Enter Stillwater Premium, their reconstructed "Post Prohibition" style ale. The malt bill and hop schedule are absolutely pedestrian (Pilsner malt, corn, and rice, hopped with Cluster, Northern Brewer, and Saaz), but fans of Stillwater know what's coming next: farmhouse yeast and 3 strains of Brettanomyces to add a little funk to the proceedings. These were originally released in bottles, but the goal was to get them into cans for that easy drinking lawnmower market. Alas, despite a successful "hand canned" batch of Premium, brewer Brian Strumke ran into a classic blunder of Gypsy brewing: "finding a facility that would not only brew with Brett, but also run it through the canning line, for obvious cross contamination risks."

Premium remains in bottles, but Strumke took the same recipe, removed the Brett and added some Cascade hops to make up the difference, and called it Classique - a sorta Belgian interpretation of the classic American adjunct beer. Slap some typically awesome Stillwater artwork featuring a mustachioed man wearing an eyepatch (presumably a play on National Bohemian's cartoon logo, notable since the old National brewery is right across the street from Stillwater's bar), and you've got yourself a go-to table beer.

Update: In a grievous oversight, I neglected to mention that this also makes a great go-to shotgunning beer. I was never any good at that sort of thing, but Beerbecue has the goods.

Stillwater Classique

Stillwater Classique - Pours a cloudy straw yellow color with loads of billowy head that leaves thick lacing as I drink. Smell is all Belgian yeast, peppery spice, banana and pear and the like, even some fruity and herbal hop notes. Taste also strays to the spicy side, but the fruit is there aplenty. Mouthfeel is very well carbonated, light bodied, crisp, refreshing, a little dry, utterly crushable. It's tasty, but not so intense that you couldn't take down a few of these in one session. Overall, fantastic table beer, worthy of repeat drinking... B+

Beer Nerd Details: 4.5% ABV canned (12 oz.) Drank out of a tulip glass on 5/1/14.

So this is a great go-to beer, and rumor has it that there will be a Classique Noir someday (presumably a darker take on the same beer). As per usual, Stillwater is always worth trying for us farmhouse fans...

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

You might also want to check out my generalist blog, where I blather on about lots of things, but mostly movies, books, and technology.

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About this Archive

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

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