75 / 100
750ml tall brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. They put this somewhere between Berliner Weisse, Rauchbier and Saison. That was well enough to pique my interest, even as I questioned their sanity.
Pours a quite clear yellow golden colour, with a big frothy head of white, that persists for a long time. Lacing is pretty decent and the carbonation is fine. It also looks like it has a bit of heft in the body, despite being only 3.8% ABV. Looks good.
Yep, nose is something like what I expected as much as I expected anything. Definite smokiness, almost peaty and slightly medicinal, with an underlying wheaty sourness that gives slight lactic overtones as well. There's a carbonic acidity to it as well. Very strange, but not unpleasant for it.
Yep, the taste is similarly weird: let's not beat around the bush, it's fucked up, but in the best possible way. Crisp wheaty acidity on the front of the palate, backed up out of nowhere by a slightly acrid, smokiness with no sweetness to it whatsoever—again, it feels slightly peaty and medicinal when mixed with the acidity. Taste is quite dark, despite the colour: it causes no end of cognitive dissonance in my brain.
Feel is quite fine and slightly frothy. It works well.
Yeah: this is bizarre. Hopfenstark have done something really weird and probably against some sort of law of nature. But for all its oddities, it works in some sort of perverse way. When I try something truly unique like this, I have to appreciate it.
Pours an orange colour, bit sedimenty. Head is white, bit thin and lacklustre. Decent lacing left behind. Looks OK.
Smells funky and tart. Bit of malty sweetness floating up through a sour, slightly acrid aroma with red wine, hay and citrus zest. Intriguing, not quite coherent though.
Taste is a little sour as well, but far more reined in. Very oaky, quite dry, with notes of pink lady apples, lucerne and a slight buttery note. Pleasant, very dry at the back, overall quite a nice balance if a little 'off' at times.
Pleasant notes; a bit of a challenge but carries itself well.
750ml brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with Sam & Rich in Sydney.
Pours a rather clear golden colour, with a bit of depth and darkness to the colour. Head forms a pretty frothy cap, and stays pretty thick to about half a centimetre with some pocked bubbles. Lacing is streaking and solid. Body looks as though it has a decent amount of weight to it, and it holds the carbonation quite slowly. Looks good.
Nose is quite vinous up front, with a demi-sec champagne character coming through while the carbonation is strongest and releasing its volatiles. Decent characters of wood and apple skin, with an earthy, slightly Bretty character coming through as well. Altogether it makes a very interesting aroma.
Taste is also good, with a decent amount of complexity, although this complexity muddles the flavours a little as well. Earthy tones, sweet Belgian estery characters and a slightly phenolic finish come through, more apple skin, a bit of wet horse, leather and some metal. These fuse and depart on the palate, making an interesting experience, but a bit of a chaotic one.
Feel is rather thick for 5% ABV, it adds to the woolliness on the palate.
Overall, this is certainly interesting stuff. It's a very earthy and rather complex Saison: not necessarily a beer I'd like to drink a lot of, or drink often though.
44 / 100
On tap at Vices & Versa.
Pours a pale gold champagney colour, head is white and foamy. A bit thin but nice lace ring left around the glass. Pretty good.
Grassy, banana esters on the nose, mild funk and mild vinegar. Not bad.
Taste is banana again, lots of wheat beer notes, sweet and slight vinous character through to the mid and onto the back. Maybe slight organic bitterness, but nowhere near enough funk for calling it a saison.
Bit of booze warmth, slight sizzle. Not great.
Nowhere near enough barnyard or organic character for a saison. Tastes rather like a heavy hefeweizen. I also don't really get the whole high-alcohol saison thing. Disappointing beer.