Recently in Saison Category

Lost Nation Lamoille Bretta

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Look at any crowd-sourced list of top beers in the world, and you'll basically find an accounting of the best Double IPAs and Russian Imperial Stouts in the world. On Beer Advocate, you have to get to Fou' Foune at #15 before you reach something that's not a DIPA or RIS. Ratebeer isn't quite as bad, with only 7 imperial stouts in the top 10. The commonality here is high alcohol, which generally means intensity, which generally makes more of an impression than a delicate, nuanced pilsener or something. Heck, I'm as guilty as anyone, and the A level archives of this blog are littered with high alcohol brews (though I do seem to have at least a little more variation in terms of style, even if there are plenty of DIPAs and Imperial Stouts). This is a drastic simplification for effect, of course, but the point is that beer nerds love them some high alcohol brews.

Which is why it's kinda funny that Lost Nation doesn't really make any of those. They're from Vermont, so they do have some hoppy beers, but they tend to be lower alcohol IPAs like Lost Galaxy (which I'd probably term a straight up Americal Pale Ale, but still), clocking in at 4.8% ABV. Their flagship Gose hits the same ABV. Indeed, their highest ABV beer is the one we're reviewing today, Lamoille Bretta, with a whopping 6% ABV. And yet, it's a beautiful, flavorful beer, and while it might seem like Lost Nation is bucking a trend, it's also something of a beer nerd trend. Session IPAs are all over the place these days (again, they're kinda just APAs, but still) and Gose's soaring popularity partly due to it's easy drinking nature. Once Americans realized how much they could annoy their British friends by claiming that a 4.6% ABV beer was a session beer, it just took off even further. But seriously, it turns out that not every beer has to melt your face, and more and more people have been coming around to that notion. Revolutionary, I know.

Anywho, this is Lost Nation's straight up Saison Lamoille that has been dosed with Brettanomyces and it's a pretty damn good attempt:

Lost Nation Lamoille Bretta

Lost Nation Lamoille Bretta - Cork nearly took off my hand, I hadn't even finished undoing the cage when it exploded out of the bottle. Was worried about a gusher, but no, thankfully all was fine. Pours a nice yellow gold color with several fingers of fluffy, large bubbled head that sticks around for quite a while (I could see this coming and poured extra slow, so as to prevent a glass consisting mostly of head). Smells beautiful, starts off with dusty, musty farmhouse funk, with some more traditional spicy Belgian yeast, followed by a nice fruity kick. Taste hits that musty farmhouse funk early on, some earthiness, Belgian yeast spice, followed by some more fruity esters coming out to play, lightly tart fruit. Not hugely funky, but a well balanced amount. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, effervescent, crisp, and very dry. Light to medium bodied, just enough to offset the massive amounts of carbonation. Overall, this is pretty special stuff, an improvement over the base, and something I need to try again. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a charente glass on 6/26/15. Bottle: 441 - B5.

This has been my favorite Lost Nation beer yet, and there's sadly only one remaining (and even more sad, I already drank it! I will get to it soon enough). I'm excited to return there and purchase more of their gloriously low ABV beer (also, apparently some proper glassware, as they keep informing me on twitter).

June Beer Club

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Beer club was tonight! For the uninitiated, beer club is a monthly gathering of like-minded coworkers and acquaintances at a local BYOB for drinks, food, and fun. Astute observers will notice that we skipped the month of May, which primarily came down to laziness and the fact that a couple of key attendees were embarking on Operation Cheddar/Chowder. That said, our triumphant return was quite the success, good attendance, great beer, and some rather fine sushi.

June Beer Club

For the sake of posterity, some thoughts on each are below. As usual, these are mostly from memory because I'm not a total dick and was socializing at the time, so take these impressions with a gigantic nugget of salt or something. Here goes, in order of drinking, not necessarily how they appear in the photo:

  • Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA - This must be the gazillionth time this has made an appearance at beer club, but it made for a nice warm up beer for the folks who arrived early. B+
  • Evil Genius Shut Up, Meg! - Evil Genius is this weird brewery that seems to always be mentioned as a PA brewery, yet they brew all their stuff in Connecticut. Also, almost all of their beers have pup culture reference names, such as this obvious reference to Family Guy. It's a pretty straightforward Belgian farmhouse ale or saison with a hint of hoppy goodness added in for character. Nothing particularly special and suffers in comparison to much better executed examples of the style (which we'll get to in a moment). B
  • Troegs / Appalachian / Pizza Boy (717) Collaboration - Slightly more interesting than Shut Up, Meg!, this one had a similar feel, but it was a little more tart and hoppy focused. Still not going to light the world on fire, but it was decent enough. B
  • Jester King Das Wunderkind! Saison - Ah, now this is more like it. A beer that shares certain characteristics with the above two beers, but is wholly better. It's a funky saison with a light tartness and a nice dry hopped citrus nose. Really pleasant and refreshing, a great summer beer. I really should try to track down more Jester King! B+
  • Hill Farmstead Dorothy - I'm not sure what precipitated this run on hoppy farmhouse ales, but this is certainly the high point in the style (at least, with tonight's entries) and represents a wonderful balance between spicy saison and citrusy hops. Really a beautiful beer that I will most certainly be revisiting in more detail soon enough! A-
  • Lawson's Finest Liquids Sip Of Sunshine - Hey, didn't I just write about this? Of course I did. A-
  • Scotchy, Scotchy, Scotch, Get In My Belly - A friend's homebrew, and it's a fantastic little Scotch ale aged on Scotch soaked oak chips. Really nice Scotch wiskey flavor, but not overpowering the malt backbone, which has a nice caramel and toffee character, accentuated by the Scotch and hint of oak. I've yet to have a homebrew that really gets at the really great barrel character, but this is still quite nice! B+
  • Rock Art Bourbon Barrel-Aged Scotch Ale - An interesting contrast to the previous beer, a little darker and with more barrel character, but with substantially more carbonation that almost ruins the beer. I'm pretty sensitive to carbonation issues, and that usually means something being undercarbonated, but in the case of a Scotch ale, I usually expect something smooth and rich, and this was effervescent and not quite as rich as it could have been. Certainly not bad at all, but a bit of a disappointment. B
  • Fiddlehead Tejas Marron - Yup, another VT beer I recently reviewed, it perhaps does not fare so well in a tasting scenario as it does on its own, but it's still quite nice. B+
  • Forest & Main Paradisaeidae - Alright fine, it's another beer I recently reviewed, but it's a really good one worth sharing.B+
  • Elysian Avatar Jasmine IPA - Yet another beer we'd had before at beer club, and one I do not particularly care for. My feelings have not changed at all, and if anything, I'm less forgiving of this beer than I was last time. I must not be that big of a fan of jasmine... C
  • Shiner Birthday Beer Chocolate Stout - Man, this thing has an absolutely amazing nose. Lots of chocolate brownie character, really sublime. Alas, the taste doesn't quite deliver on the promise of the nose, lots of chocolate, but really thin, almost watery, very disappointing. An imperialized version of this might work wonders, but we're left with something in the middle of the road. B
And that just about covers it. Another successful beer club, and I'm already looking forward to next month's edition...

Trillium Double Feature

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This brewery is named after the Trillium, a perennial flowering plant native to North America. Translating to "three parted lily", it is often associated with the Christian doctrine of the Trinity (because of its three flowers as part of one plant) and perhaps due to its early medicinal use among Native Americans, some think it symbolizes American durability and balance. The Boston homebrewer-turned-pro JC Tetreault (Interestingly, his blog from homebrewing days is still online) thinks it symbolizes what he's attempting to achieve with his brewery.

I had the great fortune of stopping in at their brewery during Operation Chowder to pick up some bottles. It's a neat little place, located in Boston proper, they appear to have crammed a lot into a rather small space (including what appear to be quite a few barrels, which is pretty exciting). The retail shop is really only for selling bottles and growlers (apparently in their early days, they would serve beer there, but as their popularity waxes, they have to keep that line moving), and I was happy to snag a handful of such. They recently announced plans to open a new, larger facility, so here's to hoping these beers become more plentiful.

What we're covering today is Congress Street IPA (guess what street the brewery is located on?), which appears to be a Columbus and Galaxy hopped wonder. Then we've got a "Super Saison" dry hopped with Centennial hops called Sunshower. Both are music to my earballs, so let's dive in:

Trillium Congress Street IPA

Trillium Congress Street IPA - Pours a murky, cloudy light yellow color with a finger of white head (very in line with the Hill Farmsteads and Tired Hands IPAs of the world). Smells intensely of tropical fruit hops (Mosaic up in here? Nope, apparently that's Galaxy hops), almost like mango juice or something like that, a superb, amazing nose. Taste has a sweetness up front that quickly transitions to citrusy, fruity hops, less juicy than the nose would imply, a little dry bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, crisp, and refreshing, more highly attenuated and dry than expected, but really quite quaffable. Overall, rock solid IPA and it's holding its own despite my attempt to drown myself in hoppy Vermont beer. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7.2% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/6/15. Bottled: 05/26/15.

Trillium Centennial Dry Hopped Sunshower

Trillium Centennial Dry Hopped Sunshower - Pours a mostly clear straw yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells of peppery saison yeast, clove, coriander, with big floral notes and hints of citrus. Once again, the nose on this is absolutely beautiful and I could sniff this stuff all night. Taste follows the nose, lots of spicy saison yeast, pepper, and clove, hints of citrus peeking in towards the middle. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, lower medium bodied, smooth. Feels much lighter than an 8.5% ABV saison. Overall, this is very nice stuff. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a flute glass on 6/6/15. Bottled: 05/26/15.

Well that's quite a nice first impression. I have bottles of Vicinity Double IPA (which will almost certainly be consumed this weekend) and Trillium Saison (which may wait a bit, but will surely not be long for this world). And it's a place I will most certainly have to return to again someday (and maybe finally get some lunch/dinner at Row 34, as that place looks amazing).

Logsdon Peche 'n Brett

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What do you get when you take Logsdon's already amazing Seizoen Bretta, stick it in oak, and then cram it with 1.5 pounds of peaches for every gallon of beer? You get a gigantor peach singularity that curves spacetime and collapses in on itself such that scientists don't really know how to measure any of this except to say that it's delicious. First released in 2012, it quickly achieved walezbro status, disappearing immediately upon subsequent releases. I assume production has been ramped up for the simple reason that I was actually able to get my grubby biscuit snatchers on a bottle, and lo, it was good:

Logsdon Peche n Brett

Logsdon Peche 'n Brett - Pours a radiant yellow gold with a finger of fluffy white head. Smells of pure, juicy peaches. I have never had a beer that had this much peach going on. Sure, there's some light, musty funk if you look for it, but the aroma is really dominated by those peaches. The taste has a little more balance to it. Still lots of peaches, but you get more of that musty Brett, a little spice, some oak and maybe even a dry tannic quality. Mouthfeel is well carbonated and crisp, medium bodied, perhaps even a bit of boozy heat, but not at all unpleasant. Hot damn, this is a peach bomb. I've never had anything quite this intensely peachy. Overall, a pretty fantastic beer and a must for peach lovers. A

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 5/8/15. Bottle No. 12628. Best by: 01/2020.

While not distributed here, my understanding is that Seizoen Bretta is generally available wherever it is distributed, which is just inconceivable to me. That stuff is absolute nectar of the gods, and you would do well to seek it out by any means possible. As much as I enjoyed Peche 'n Brett, I can't help but fall back on Seizoen Bretta as a more regular option. And honestly, everything I've had from Logsdon has been pretty fantastic. Indeed, got a couple more in the pipeline, so watch out...

A Pair of Forest & Main Releases

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I've been doing a better job keeping up with Forest & Main's bottle releases lately, in part because they're such low-pressure affairs. Unlike a Tired Hands release, where you need to arrive at least a couple hours early, I can roll up right around opening time and still snag a bunch of bottles. People do wait in line, but it's definitely a more relaxed atmosphere and everything moves swiftly once the doors open. Oh yeah, and the beer's pretty good too.

Two beers at the latest release. One was Paradisaeidae, named after a family of birds known as the Birds of Paradise, a barrel-aged saison brewed with Forest & Main's local saison yeast, conditioned on lemongrass and lime, and dry hopped with Motueka. I never knew this, but Forest & Main's saison yeast is foraged from a variety of flowers and fruits growing within a few blocks of the brewpub ("Cultures from mulberries, cherries and honeysuckle made the final cut.") They switch up the yeast every year, so you can expect significant variations between vintages.

It's unclear if every saison they make uses this foraged yeast, but the second bottle I snagged, Ash & Alder (presumably a reference to the trees used to make Fender guitar bodies) was a more traditional saison except that it was dry hopped with Mosaic and Mandarina Bavaria. Unlike Paradisaeidae, this is not barrel aged and isn't really suitable for aging. I'm sure it would do just fine, but judging from the nose on this sucker, you really want to drink it fresh. But I'm getting ahead of myself, let's take a closer look at both of these beers:

Paradisaeidae

Forest & Main Paradisaeidae - Pours a hazy golden orange color with a finger of dense white head. Smells funky, sour, fruity, with some oak pitching in for good measure. A very well integrated nose, actually. Taste starts off with a sour little snap that quickly subsides as things get earthy in the middle, funk and oak, some fruity hops and hop bitterness emerging in the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, lightbodied, moderate sourness and acidity, a little dryness in the finish. Overall, a nice sour saison, but not quite the equal of some of their other offerings, notably Moeder saison or Marius variants. Still very nice, a solid B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 5/10/15. Bottled: Feb 26 2015 (Released May 2015)

Ash and Alder

Forest & Main Ash & Alder - Pours a more hazy, slightly darker golden color with tons of fluffy white head. Absolutely beautiful nose, perfect melding of saison spice, fruit, and funk with citrusy hops. Great tropical fruit aromas, oranges and the like. Taste is a little more subdued than the nose would have you believe, and the balance definitely leans more towards the spicy saison up front, with the hops kicking in towards the bitter finish. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated and effervescent, crisp and clean, and very, very dry. Overall, this is one of the better hoppy saisons that I've had, well worth checking out when fresh. A high B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 5/10/15. Bottled: Feb 13 2015 (Released April/May 2015)

As per usual, solid work from Forest & Main. Always consider heading up there and should really visit more often. I am getting better, I swears.

Blaugies Saison D'Epeautre

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Started by a pair of married schoolteachers in their hometown of Blaugies, these folks have been brewing in their quaint farmhouse garage since 1987. That's a pretty long time for an American brewer, but in Belgium, where some brewers have histories dating back centuries, it's a young brewery (Michael Jackson once quipped that this beer was "A fine revival"). Everything they make is a saison, so you know it's a good bet, even if you're playing Belgian roulette. This particular example is made with Spelt and Dupont's yeast strain, but despite being very yeast-driven, it manages to remain distinct from most of Dupont's classic beers:

Blaugies Saison D Epeautre

Brasserie de Blaugies Saison D'Epeautre - Hoo boy, the pressure in this bottle must've been massive, that cork could have punctured the ceiling if I wasn't careful. Pours a slightly cloudy straw yellow color with massive amounts of bubbly head and decent retention, though little in the way of lacing. Smells of dusty, musty belgian yeast, a little spice, like clove and coriander, and faint hints of fruity esters. Taste has a big spice note to it, the clove and coriander from the nose, plenty of musty yeast, with hints of bright fruit coming through. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, crisp, and effervescent, quite dry as well. Overall, this is a fantastic, very well executed example of a rather straightforward saison, one I'd like to revisit for sure. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a flute glass on 5/2/15.

Well, now I need to go find everything Blaugies ever brewed. Super.

Intangible Ales Future Primitive

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Pizza Boy brewing cohabitates with Al's of Hampden (an actual pizza joint), which I tend to think of as basically the same operation, though I guess distinctions need to be made. I'm sure there's some nerdy, pencil-pushing reason for such distinctions, but whatever. Enter Intangible Ales. Brewed at the same location. Using the same equipment. By the same brewer. Wait, why is this a separate brand now? What are you central PA people getting up to over there? And while we're at it, this beer is technically called FuTuRe PRiMiTiVe - what do you have against vowels and normal capitalization? What is going on? GET OFF OF MY LAWN!

Ahem. Near as I can tell, Intangible Ales is a collaboration between Pizza Boy head brewer Terry Hawbaker (formerly of PA stalwarts like Bullfrog and Farmer's Cabinet) and local photographer extraordinaire Kristen Mullen. Still not sure why it's a distinct brand, but Mullen's photography certainly makes for some cool labels (and the beer ain't bad either!):

Intangible Ales Future Primitive

Intangible Ales Future Primitive - Pours a hazy yellow color with a finger or two of white, fluffy head with great retention. Smell has some musty funk, hints of the barnyard, but also a very nice fruity aroma, bananas and pineapple, and just a hint of yeasty spice in the background. Taste starts off like a typical sweet and spicy saison of the Dupont mold, but then the funky Brett character kicks in about midway through the taste, bringing some earthy barnyard character and a little fruitiness, finishing off with a dry bitterness. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, effervescent, light, crisp, and very dry. Overall, this is a rock solid funky saison. It's not in the Logsdon level God tier saison realm, but it's a very nice beer nonetheless. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7.2% bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a flute glass on 4/24/15. Batch #1. Bottle #265/2700.

Pizza Boy continues to impress, even when it's an alternate label like this. I should really explore more of their stuff, and will probably do so soon enough. Stay tuned.

April Beer Club

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Beer club was yesterday! For the uninitiated, beer club is a monthly gathering of like-minded coworkers and acquaintances at a local BYOB for good food, optional libations, and general merriment. Since the last beer club was sparsely attended, we ended up back at Couch Tomato for some excellent pizza, strombolis (having had both, I would recommend the stromboli over the pizza), and some sort of weird greek plate. Better weather means better attendance, and we had a rather fantastic selection of beer to work our way through:

April Beer Club

For the sake of posterity, some thoughts on each are below. As per usual, I'm going almost purely from memory, and this was from last night, so take these notes with the appropriate shakers of salt. Or call it a sacred text and analyze it like the Zapruder film. I'm not here to tell you what to do. I am here to write indefensible notes on beer, so let's get to it:

  • Kaedrin Crom Approved - So it appears that this is doing ok, but I really feel like my challenges that lead to a clogged keg and having to transfer it to another keg really ruined this beer. Ok, perhaps ruined isn't the right term. This has a fantastic, tropical fruit hop nose. The taste definitely feels a bit oxidized, which I unfortunately makes sense and definitely detracts from what I was going for. I'm giving it a B, but the really disappointing thing is that when I first kegged it, I was thinking this was A level stuff. Oh, well, lessons learned, onwards and upwards. My next batch of this beer will be great.
  • Adroit Theory New Zealand Rye (Ghost 179) - I heard about this Virginia brewery a while back and have been curious to try their beers. A regular beer club attendee got down there last weekend and picked up a few beers to try. This one was a pretty solid rye DIPA, more malt and spicy rye than hops, but it also clocks in at a hefty 11% ABV and didn't feel like it at all. It was very nice. B+
  • Crooked Stave St. Bretta (Autumn) - Absolutely delicious beer, funky, light sourness, juicy fruit, really fantastic stuff, along the lines of the Summer (which I've had before)
  • Flying Dog Supertramp - This had a sorta berliner weiss feel to it, but not quite that tart, and while you could get some cherry character out of it, it also had a weird aftertaste. I just never got into this beer. C
  • Modern Times Blazing World - Dank, piney hops with a nice, hefty malt backbone, this is very nice. Just about in line with anything I've had from Modern Times, who seem pretty fantastic. B+
  • Intangible Ales (Pizza Boy) Acidulated Hive - One of Pizza Boy's Intangible Ales label beers (not sure why this is listed as a separate brewery), this is a great little saison. It reminds me of Saison Dupont, except with a lightly funky addition (I don't get much honey out of it, but it does perhaps remind me a bit of funky version of Dupont's Bier de Miel). Well worth seeking out B+ or A-
  • The Lost Abbey Lost & Found Abbey Ale - A pretty standard dubbel that is overwhelmed by raisiny flavors. Nothing bad here, but also nothing particularly special. B-
  • Adroit Theory Lux (Ghost 132) - This is labeled as a wheatwine, and unfortunately, it falls prey to a saccharine, sticky sweet character that would be cloying if I were trying to drink a whole bottle. As a sample in a situation like this, it was fine, but it's not really my thing. C+
  • Central Waters Bourbon Barrel La Petite Mort - A beer I've already reviewed, and it was just as good, if not better this time around. In fact, I think I'll bump it up to an A-
  • Oskar Blues Bolivia Newton John - A relatively low ABV coffee stout (6%), this is obviously not in my wheelhouse, but it seemed like a very well executed coffee stout. B
  • Weyerbacher Sunday Morning Stout - Another coffee stout, this one is an imperial stout that's also been aged in bourbon barrels. This is much more my speed, though again, I never really connected with it as much as I'd like. The coffee seems very well integrated, and the barrel aging adds a nice richness to the proceedings, even if I felt the barrel character was a little too light. Still, while not quite KBS level, it's on the same playing field, and you won't have to jump through many hoops to get ahold of this stuff. B+
  • Bonus Review: Boxcar Brewing Nitro Stout - After beer club, we walked over to Boxcar Brewing's new brewpub and had some stuff there. I grabbed this Nitro stout, a Dry Irish Stout, that might be my favorite thing I've ever had from Boxcar. Now that the brewpub is open, I'm hoping for good things from them... they're the brewery most local to me, but I've always been somewhat underwhelmed by their brews. This was really nice though. B
And there you have it. A fantastic selection this time around, and I am, of course, already looking forward to the next iteration...

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

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

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