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Odd Breed Double Feature

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South Florida's Odd Breed is a small brewery focused on wild ales that I've become acquainted with thanks to Kaedrin friend Steve, who lives down those parts and generously volunteers to send some Florida cheer up my way from time to time. My guess is that it's called Odd Breed due to their use of wild yeasts and other microflora, and totally not a fiendish, Doctor Moreau-esque plot to cross-breed humans with wild animals. However, if they do ever announce a new production facility location at a remote Atlantic island, I may be more skeptical. What can I say, I love beer, but I'm distrustful of many brewers' stated goals. Um... anywho, they make good beer, so let's take a look:

Odd Breed Past and Future

Odd Breed Past & Future - This is their Flagship, a pretty straightforward saison aged in French oak puncheons. I say straightforward, but the brewer says he's been working on the recipe from years, and it's evolved from a super-dry Dupont-esque clone to a beer that loosened the dryness and upped the acidity. Pours a pale straw yellow color with a solid finger of medium bubbled head that manages to hang on for a while. Smells quite nice, oak and saison spice, hints of tart fruit. Taste starts out sweet, hits that saison spice (like cloves and coriander), then tart fruit, finishing with a tart kick. Mouthfeel is light and crisp, well carbonated, and relatively dry. Overall, a very well executed saison, and a rock solid flagship that compares favorably with locals like Tired Hands. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (capped and corked). Drank out of a flute glass on 12/7/18. Bottled on: 09/11/18. Batch 2.

Odd Breed Fresh Off the Farm With Peaches

Fresh Off the Farm With Peaches - A blend of golden wild ales aged in those French oak puncheons that are then transferred onto nearly 800 pounds of hand-picked, ripe organic peaches (which were only lightly washed, so as to contribute their own microflora). Pours a pale, very cloudy straw yellow color with a finger or two of white head that sticks around for a bit. Smells great, plenty of peaches, some lactic funk, and even more peaches. Taste has a nice dry character with some peachy sweetness to it, followed by some puckering tartness and some oak, and then more peaches and did I mention peaches in the finish. Mouthfeel is light, crisp, and dry, moderate acidity, perhaps not quite quaffable, but headed in that direction. Overall, yeah, this is a real winner right here. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 5.5% ABV bottled (capped and corked). Drank out of a flute glass on 12/15/18. Bottled on: 06/22/18.

A nice first impression, for sure, and I have a couple others that I'll be bringing to shares in the near-ish future. I suspect this won't be the last you see of Odd Breed here...

Suarez Family Brewing Quadruple Feature

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Every year, I take a vacation in upstate New York (these are the occasions that inspire the Operation Cheddar trips to Vermont) and this year, I noticed that there's an alternative route to get to my vacation destination that takes me past a few NY breweries of note. Case in point: Suarez Family Brewery. Dan Suarez cut his teeth working at a series of NYC breweries in the mid aughts (notably Sixpoint and Brooklyn) and then became Sean Hill's first employee at Hill Farmstead. After a few years there, he set out on his own, creating his family brewery in upstate NY and putting out what he terms "crispy little beers". From what I can tell, they seem to specialize in saisons (which tend to be similar in character to what Hill Farmstead puts out) and pilsners, with the occasional pale ale thrown in for good measure. The brewery is a small but comfy little place, and Suarez seems to have lots of plans. For now, they're just serving their beers, but someday they hope to have tacos and other foodstuffs. Until then, we'll just have to deal with their world class beer. Let's dive in:

Palatine Pils

Palatine Pils - Before I left on my trip, I bought some local beer to drink whilst on vacation (and before Operation Cheddar), and promptly left that local stuff at home. So when I got to Suarez, I grabbed a few extra four packs of this, which became the unofficial beer of the week. Pours a clear, pale gold color with a finger of white, fluffy head that has good retention and leaves a bit of lacing. Smells of earthy, grassy noble hops with a bready crackery character that fits well. Taste follows the nose, a light bready character with some noble hops kicking in. Mouthfeel is light, crisp, and quaffable, really well balanced. Overall, yup, certainly one of the better pilsners I've had... B+ or A-

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of the can on 7/31/18 (picture above is in a willibecher glass in September). Canned 06.27.18. Drink by 08.29.18.

Suarez Proclivity

Proclivity - Country beer brewed with fresh pineapple sage. Pours a pale golden color with a finger of white, fluffy head that doesn't quite stick around as long. Smells good, similar, light musty funk and hints of spice. Taste is sweet, with a little more spice and some sort of fresh herbs (presumably that sage), finshing with a light tartness. Mouthfeel is a little heftier than Call to Mind, well carbonated, no less crisp or quaffable. Overall, this is also great, maybe a hint better, but overall quite similar. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 5.4% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a tumbler glass on 8/1/18. Bottled: 2/18.

Suarez Call to Mind

Call to Mind - Country beer brewed with chamomile, lemon thyme, and lemon balm, briefly ripened in oak casks. Pours a pale golden color with a solid finger or two of white, fluffy head that leaves a bit of lacing as I drink. Smells nice, light musty funk, hints of spice, and some tart lemon lime action. Taste starts sweet, hits that tart lemony note, then moves on to a light spicy funk. Mouthfeel is light bodied, low acidity, well carbonated, crisp, and quaffable. This goes down fast. Overall, it's a great little farmhouse number, akin to something like HF Florence. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 5.4% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 9/7/18. Bottled: 3/18.

Suarez Postscript

Postscript - Country beer brewed with a generous portion of raw spelt sourced from their neighbors, then aged in oak casks. Pours more of a pale, straw yellow color with a finger or two of fluffy white head. Smell is back to the tart lemon character, but with plenty of funky aromas and some spice too. Taste is a little more rounded, starting off sweet, hitting those spicy notes, then some oak, and finishing with a well balanced tartness. Mouthfeel is more like Proclivity than Call to Mind, that oak is definitely doing its thing, well carbonated, moderate acidity, still pretty darned crisp and quaffable. Overall, oh wow, another great farmhouse beer from Suarez, big shocker. Very good. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 4.8% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a tumbler glass on 7/31/18. Bottled: 5/18.

So yes, well worth seeking out Suarez, and I've certainly found a new, regular stop on my way to vacation.

Jester King and Fantôme Del Rey

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The label sez: "We continue on, forward, like phantom people, towards subtle dawn." I don't know what that means, and the ghost infamously never shares its secrets, so we'll just have to let that be, I guess.

The beer itself was originally brewed in Belgium at Fantôme, with Dany and Jester King brewer Garrett Crowell collaborating on the recipe. Speaking of which, unlike most Tômes, we know a little more about the recipe here. It's made with dark candi syrup, truffle honey, coriander, and black peppercorns. After the initial batch in Belgium, Jester King made a batch back at their own brewery and subjected it to extended fermentation and partial barrel aging (and using their distinctive well water and a melange of native, mixed-culture yeast and bacterial beasties.) The name Fantôme Del Rey roughly translates to Ghost of the King, which is actually pretty evocative. But how's the beer?

Jester King and Fantôme Del Rey

Jester King and Fantôme Del Rey (Texas Version) - Pours a striking clear golden orange color with a solid finger of dense white head that has great retention and leaves some lacing as I drink. Smells very funky, lots of dusty, musty Belgian funk going on, a little earthy, some unidentifiable spices, and an underlying fruitiness peeking through. Taste is candy sweet up front, a little sticky fruit, hints of spice and earthy funk, finishing with a whisper of tartness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, a little low on the carbonation (but there's plenty there), some stickiness, and only a hint of acidity. A little more carbonation would have done this well. Overall, this is a very nice beer, atypical for Fantôme, which I guess makes sense since this is the Texas version. Well worth checking out. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8.8% ABV bottled (750 ml capped and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 4/8/18. Blend #1 - 03.22.16.

Always down for another Tôme, and Jester King is certainly a brewery I should seek out more often. Many thanks to fellow BeerNERD Gary for procuring this bottle for me in his many travels.

Jackie O's Double Feature

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The impression I get is that Jackie O's is a sort of hidden gem. Perhaps because they're located in Ohio, or perhaps because they don't have that one walezish offering that everyone goes bonkers over (an arguable point, I'm sure, but still). I've had a few things in informal settings, and recently came into a couple of staple bottles that would be a reasonable introduction. So let's get into it:

Hockhocking

Jackie O's Hockhocking - I'm pretty sure Jackie O's isn't known for this sort of thing, a mixed fermentation saison aged in wine barrels. Named after a river and music festival that takes place on the banks of said river, this is certainly a worthy entry into that crowded style. Pours a pale, slightly hazy yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells sweet, vinous fruit, lactic funk. Taste starts off sweet, with lots of tart, vinous fruit, maybe a hint of saison spice in the middle, with the finish having a funky, lactic tartness to it. Mouthfeel is tightly carbonated, medium bodied, moderate acidity, quaffable. Overall, this is a pretty great little saison. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a charente glass on 11/11/17. Vintage: 2017.

Oil Of Aphrodite

Jackie O's Oil Of Aphrodite - An imperial stout brewed with black walnuts and Belgian candied syrup. Pours black with a finger of light brown head. Smells very sweet and sugary, not much roast, a little caramel and vanilla. Taste follows the nose, a little more roast here than the nose, but still very sweet, caramel and vanilla, some piney hops in the finish balance things out a bit. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, well carbed. Overall, a pretty straightforward imperial stout, a little on the sweet side, but quite nice. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (375 ml). Drank out of a snifter on 11/17/17.

A promising start. Now I just need to snag some of their barrel aged offerings, which I've heard good things about...

Casey Saison

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Colorado's Casey Brewing and Blending was unleashed upon the world in 2013 and the trading boards have been awash with ISOs ever since. They focus on wild fermentation, oak aging, and blending, which attracts a certain type of beer dork. Including me, apparently.

What we have here is their base saison offering. Made with all Colorado ingredients, this is initially fermented in open oak barrel fermenters, then moved into other oak barrels (presumably sealed ones) for further aging. Casey has probably become much more famous for their fruited variants of this sort of thing, but this one isn't anything to sneeze at. SO STOP SNEEZING AT IT.

Casey Saison

Casey Saison - Pours a hazy, very pale straw yellow color with half a finger of quickly dissipating head. Smells nice, oak, vinous fruit, a little lactic funk, hints of saison spice. Taste is sweet and tart, vinous fruit up front, with some sourness kicking in quickly, followed by some of that yeast spice, finishing with another sour bite. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, with moderate acidity. Goes down quick. Overall, this is a great sour saison. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 10/13/17. Bottled: 3/28/17.

I have had the good fortune to have tried three other Casey beers, one of which, the Casey Family Preserves Montmorency Cherry, was one of the best years I had all of last year. I will obviously be on the lookout for more of their wares.

Fantôme Boo

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A travelling friend recently procured a bottle of this Fantôme pumpkin saison for me, so I saved it for Halloween. Near as I can tell, this was a one-off brew from the 2012-2013 timeframe (just before the Smoketôme era), which indicates that there are some areas in this country that get lots of Fantôme that just sits on shelves. What is wrong with you people?

Anyways, these bottles had a reputation as being gushers such that, if you turned them upside down whilst opening, they could propel you into low earth orbit. Um, anyway, this sort of thing usually makes for a poor experience (and perhaps explains their current availability five years later) and I can confirm that when this happened with a different bottle a little while ago, it was pretty much a lost cause. Fortunately, my bottle of Boo did not have this problem (and unfortunately, I still haven't visited space). This could be the extra few years talking, but it could also be Fantôme's infamous lack of consistency manifesting. Whatever the case, it was a nice, spooky choice for Halloween night:

Fantôme Boo

Fantôme Boo - Pours a murky, moderately dark orange color with half a finger of white head. Smells sweet, a little spice, and that trademark Tôme funk. Taste has some saison spice to it, lots of earth and funk, all somewhat muted by age. As it warmed up, the spice began to feel more peppery, even a hint of spicy hotness (as opposed to spicy clove or cinnamon or something, which is not here). Mouthfeel is sharply carbonated, medium bodied, and it's got some spicy heat. Overall, this is a minor ghost, a little long in the tooth, but an interesting spin. B

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (750 ml corked and capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/31/17.

In fairness, I was coming down with a bit of a cold at the time, so perhaps I wasn't in the best condition for a true evaluation. Also, my deprivation chamber was on the fritz, so I was just sitting on my couch watching horror movies (Halloween and Trick r Treat, in accordance with tradition), which also matters. I'm the worst. Anyway, Fantôme is always an interesting drink and I'm sure it won't be long before we tackle another offering...

de Garde Oude Desay

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de Garde has made a several variants of a beer called Saison Desay. Near as I can tell, they had no real reason to use the word Desay (I mean, maybe they're big fans of the crappy electronics company or perhaps the unique wooden window found in Kathmandu, but I'm doubting it)... until I saw this beer. Did... did de Garde wait three years to blend this beer just so they could make an Odyssey pun with this beer name? I'm probably just the worst, but I like to think that someone at de Garde was willing to go to such elaborate lengths for such a trivial pleasure.

Anyway, this beer is a blend of one, two, and three year-old oak barrel and oak tank matured Petit Desay. A neat, gueuze-like approach to the blending (though obviously not an actual gueuze, which has additional rules concerning wheat in the mashbill and aged hops, etc...) makes this one of the more intriguing offerings I managed to acquire from these Oregonian spontaneous ballers... I couldn't find any details on the proportions of the blend, but I think it's safe to assume that there is more of the younger components and less of the older. Whatever the case, it's a worthwhile exercise. A beer odyssey, you might say:

de Garde Oude Desay

de Garde Oude Desay - Pours a slightly hazy golden orange color with tons of head that sticks around and even leaves a bit of lacing. Smells great, saison yeast spicy phenols and fruity esters, definitely a light, raisiny character that aged Belgian styles give off, but also some musty, earthy funk lingering in the background. Taste hits those saison notes up front, spicy with cloves, fruity with vinous fruit, hints of raisin, but this is all overtaken by a growing sourness in the middle through the finish. Mouthfeel is light bodied, crisp, dry, highly carbonated and effervescent, with a moderate and pleasant acidity. Overall, this is the best de Garde I've had yet, certainly reminiscent of the others (they're all saisons of similar stock, so I guess this makes sense), but with more complexity and balance. A

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 9/8/17. Batch 2 (I think?)

As per usual, I'm always interested in checking out more from these fellows at de Garde. Alas, nothing in the pipeline. Woe is me.

Fantôme Duo

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There are many varieties of Fantôme, but it's always rough trying to figure out what makes each one different. Sometimes the addition is obvious or well known, but most of the time you're just left with the label's cryptic "Belgian Ale brewed with spices" (and occasionally additional "herbs"). The ghost never reveals its secrets! But sometimes you can get an inkling.

First up is this collaboration with Beancurdturtle Brewing's Daniel Fernandez, a beer consultant who collaborates with breweries and helps design and brew beers. Based in California, he seems to spend a lot of time working with European brewers like Fantôme. Ghost Turtle (this feels like a reference to something) is a typical Belgian ale brewed with spices and herbs, but when one fateful knower speculated Anise, he was shot down and told that the beer used: "No anise. Three flowers, a few herbs, and wildflower honey." Still a little nebulous, but better than nothing:

Fantome Ghost Turtle

Fantôme Ghost Turtle - Pours a golden yellow color with a finger of fluffy white head that has good retention and leaves a bit of lacing as I drink. Smells great, lots of sweet, candied fruit, and that trademark tôme funk. Taste hits the saison spice notes harder than the fruity esters, with earthy funk doing its thing in the middle to finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, decent carbonation, pretty easy going. Overall, it's a solid little tôme! B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (750 ml corked and capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/9/17.

Next up is Vertignasse, which again lists unspecified spices and herbs, but a little digging reveals that the green color (which was not quite as vivid in my bottle as some pictures I've seen) at least partially derives from spinach juice (ew? Thankfully this doesn't come off as being vegetal.) Some have also specified that this is a variant of Fantôme's Blanche, a wheat beer that hasn't been made in a while, but which makes sense (this does feel very much like a Belgian Wit). Ultimately not as good as their other Green offering (Magic Ghost), but hey, it ain't easy being green:

Fantôme Vertignasse

Fantôme Vertignasse - Pours a pale, yellowish green color with a finger of white head. Smells mostly of the famed and unspecified spices, but I'll hazard a guess of coriander and cloves, some of which no doubt comes from the yeast, which only bears a hint of funk. Taste is sweet and spicy, that coriander and cloves come through here too, but there's something fruity and juicy here too. It's a good mixture of flavors. Mouthfeel is a little light on the carbonation, but in a way that works, light bodied but not something you necessarily want to chug. Overall, a nice, complex, and light saison that is unique, which is saying something from this brewery. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 4.5% ABV bottled (750 ml corked and capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/16/17.

So there you have it, two new Tômes that have at least partially been explained. But one can never be truly sure what a Ghost consists of... As Dany likes to say: Secrets, secrets. Up next on the Tôme front is the new batch of Été (which, as I understand it, is drastically different than the last one I managed to procure) and a Ghost I'm going to save for Kaedrin's annual Six Weeks of Halloween marathon!

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

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