70 / 100
750ml brown caged-and-corked bottle purchased from Tasty Beverage Company in Asheville.
Pours a pale lemon colour, with a very faint haze to it. Head is a crackling, looming mess of white that looks like smashed meringue and soft-serve ice cream. Lacing forms in globs. It looks raucous and wild. Body is fine and light, with minimal, tiny-bubbled carbonation.
Nose is quite pleasant. It has a fresh character of peeled green apple skin, with a fragrant spiciness that speaks of cloves and cardamom. But it's all smoothed with characters of vanilla and sweet pastry. It's really quite nicely pulled together.
Taste is a bit thinner, and it doesn't hold together as well as on the nose. There's a strong sharpness in the middle of the palate, which creates more of a boozy quality, and causes some of that smoothness to be lost. There's apple on the front of the palate, a hint more dried fruit towards the back, but the delicate spice notes are lost in the face of the booze.
Feel is very carbonated. It doesn't quite get to the stage where it's "fizzy", but it's not far off.
Overall, it's okay, but the nose was very good, and I was hopeful for something really delicately and beautifully crafted. This doesn't quite get there.
42 / 100
375ml brown bottle purchased somewhere in Denver. This is a "harvest cucumber saison", brewed with whole cucumbers, lemon zest and grains of paradise.
Pours a faintly hazed pale golden colour, with a coarse-bubbled head that settles into a loose ring that leaves little lace. Body is very thin and dry, although the carbonation is surprisingly languid in the glass. Looks okay.
Nose is decidedly odd. There is indeed a fairly pronounced pickle brine character to it, which gives a sweet/sour/savoury edge to the beer, which is slightly offputting. Scooped cucumber seeds, watermelon and rose also come through. It's a bit one note, in reality, with all of the notes coming seemingly from the pickle addition. and it does tend to overpower somewhat.
Taste is quite similar, but in some ways, it's actually slightly worse. There's a pronounced savoury-bitter character on the back, which works poorly with the pickle flavour, giving the slight suggestion that something is off—it's either a weirdly infected beer, or a weirdly bitter pickle. It has a mineral character, which is mostly washed around with the semi-sour lacto ferment note, but it doesn't quite cleanse it properly. Hmm.
Feel is fine. It's light and clean, but this also means that there's not much body to hide the weirdnesses.
And they are weirdnesses, overall. It wears them proudly, but perhaps misguidedly. The idea isn't bad, and even the pickle character isn't unpleasant in a beer. Just not this beer.
75 / 100
750ml JP-style bottle purchased from Slowbeer. Shared with Sam.
Pours a very slightly hazed, bright golden colour, with a lovely, rocky and firm head of pure white that leaves wonderfully intricate lace. Body is light and clean, with vibrant, fast-moving carbonation. It looks the business.
Nose is also excellent. It has a lovely yeasty brut character to it, with bright vinous characters to give it fruit and lift. There's a semi-savoury note as well, which gives characters of bone broth and stewed tomato. They're just the darker notes of the main though. Mostly, it's bright, dry, fragrant and effervescent.
Taste is very dry, and a little bit to its detriment, to be honest. It loses some of the fruit, and hence it doesn't have the body to support the complexity you want it to have. It starts out dry, earthy and a little bit bitter, and then dries up into a very desiccated mid-palate. Finish has bitter herbs, grapefruit peel and almost an anise tarragon bite.
Feel is dry and light. It has a very fine sparkle of carbonation, which is quite nice.
Overall, I like it. It has a fair bit of complexity to it, but I'd love to see it in a slightly bigger beer with a better base for expressing it. It ends up feeling a bit fatiguing on the palate, even though I want to keep sipping it.
81 / 100
500ml can purchased for me by Sam, from somewhere, possibly Bucket Boys. This is an "India Saison w/ Bergamot", which sounds good to me.
Pours a pleasantly bright yellow colour, with good clarity. Head is loose-bubbled, but solid and persistent, forming a foamy crest that leaves swathes of lace. Carbonation is fine, through a slick but fluid body. It looks good, and it suits the style well.
Nose is very pleasant. It has a bright, aromatic, slightly herbal saison quality to it, but it's further accentuated by the bergamot and the hops. Both of these give citric tones, but the bergamot in particular has a smooth, comforting and semi-sweet quality like the Earl Grey tea which incorporates it. It really lifts the aroma of the beer, while not hiding any of the other intricacies.
Taste is very nice as well. It has a rounded Belgian yeast undertone to it, which gives it a hint more body and more sweetness than you might expect, while maintaining the lightness in the palate. The bergamot really sings over the top, and it has a wonderful way of connecting nicely to the saison character. Minimal bitterness on the back, which helps let the spicy, slightly grassy saison notes take over. Finish is smooth and aromatic.
The feel is lovely. Soft and smooth, but with a bit more heft to allow the flavours to do their thing.
Honestly, I'm really impressed with this. The bergamot is a lovely addition in any case, but I'm super happy with how well these guys have managed to integrate it with the base beer. New England have really shown themselves to be the renaissance brewery of the moment, and beers like this show why they're really stepping it up a notch.
57 / 100
Oat and honey Bretted saison, purchased for me by Sam, I believe for my birthday this year. It's a 750ml caged and corked dark green bottle, which takes some effort to remove the cork.
Pours a lovely bright golden yellow colour, with a frothy, effervescent head of just-off-white, that stays persistent and full, leaving lovely full-throated, aggressive lace. Body is light and clear, with lots of carbonation. It's honestly a really good-looking beer.
The nose suffers from what I think now is obviously the confluence of honey and brett. It gets a really quite pointed horse character, that smells not just like a stable, but like getting really into the straw-lined corner of the stable where the horse wants to relieve itself. It's pungent, and, actually, unpleasant. But if you ignore this and look beyond it, there's pleasant notes of sweet orange and a peppery saison spice. But really, these characters are very much overwhelmed.
The taste is fortunately a lot better. There's still hints of the horsey character, but they're more integrated as a general Brettanomyces note, which gives some pleasant funk and dryness at the back. The bulk is soft, supple, spicy saison notes, which are comforting and subtle. The mouthfeel also adds a rather pleasant frothy effervescence. The finish is dry, with a whiff of the organic from the Brett.
Overall, I think this is a well-made beer, but I also feel as though the concept is itself flawed (or at least, it's a concept that's not for me). The honey notes dry the palate, but with the Brett, they lend themselves to some genuinely unwanted characters. I'm rather ambivalent as a result.
73 / 100
Rye Saison, purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with Sam during a brewday.
Pours a very pale, clear golden colour, with some persistent carbonation, but almost no head. On pouring, it has a slight ring of coars bubbled, but these quickly dissipate once the glass is moved. Looks rather dull and flat.
Nose is pleasant. It has a nice vinous tartness that gives notes of riesling, moving to a slightly astringent character like green olives. It has some of that classic mixed ferment greenness, and a hint of plasticine. As it warms, there's notes of pepper and dried orange peel. Quite good all up.
Taste is a bit straightforward. There's a lightness to the palate, with some of that vinous bite towards the back. Again, there's a touch of astringency, which does give a slight olive note, and a peppery character that works with the carbonation to clear things up. Some sweetness in the mid palate hints at stone-fruit and pithy citrus skin. It's good, but it's perhaps not as layered as some of the very best examples.
Feel is light, and a little biting from the acid.
Perfectly drinkable, and very reasonable—it doesn't really strike the highest notes of the style, so it's not going to become a hallmark example, but it's very pleasant and nicely made.
Black raspberry saison, apparently. Purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a vivid dark purple colour. It looks somewhere between reduced Ribena and young shiraz. Yeah is a light, but still vivid purple that persists as a staining ring around the glass. Body is fairly light, although there's depth and opacity to the colour. Carbonation is fine and swift. I mean it sure has a Look, I'll give it that.
Nose is decent enough, but to some extent it's not really that exciting. There's pronounced raspberries on the front, maybe with a slight blackcurrant tartness in there as well. But it also has a bready note underneath—with the acidity it gives a slight suggestion of sourdough. It has a slight leafiness underneath all of this as well. It's okay, but not one of the most interesting aromas I've had from Anchorage.
Taste is maybe a bit better, with more of a direct, sharp acid to keep things on track. More of those slight sourdough characters around the back of the palate, and the fruit all but evanesces into aroma. It's surprisingly thin, without a huge amount of complexity, and almost no body to sustain it beyond the leap to that acid.
It's a decent beer, and a decent idea (and seriously, that's the only beer I've ever had that looks quite like that), but I think the execution is slightly lacking. It just ends up feeling dull, and a bretted black raspberry saison should be anything but that.
47 / 100
Pours a dark purple, yeah, with pale purple/pink head of foam. Lacing and cascade are quite lovely, and look the colour's noticeable and interesting. I'm intrigued.
What the heck is that? Weird sweet but herbal and spicy nose, from the colour it makes me think of beetroot, it's mostly sweet but with a weird earthy note to it too. A little bit too sweet too, like there isn't enough edge or cut through, just that fruit juicy/vegetative aroma and little else. Medicinal.
Tastes yeah, it's weird. Not vegetative but lots of a very sweet blackcurranty character that then gets a weird mishmash of sourness, spice and a minty freshness. Plenty of medicinal and menthol character on the front that continues towards the back. The finish is kinda nonexistent too, like there's a faint fadeout of some tartness but then a mild earthy sweetness with little to continue or make it moreish. It's both weird and unimpressive, and I don't like it.
Mouthfeel is quite full, even a little heavy. Works well for the style though and carries it off. No issue with the texture.
Yeah it feels like a weird experiment with some ingredient, but the beer behind it hasn't got much oomph to it so it ends up quite empty and just directionless. The texture also indicates a quality brewer at work (I reviewed this blind so didn't know it was from one of my favourite breweries) who's made a good beer where the flavour just doesn't work. I'd allow Anchorage a hundred missteps just for making the Love Buzz saison, but the fact that this comes from the same place doesn't ameliorate it.
71 / 100
750ml caged and corked bottle purchased from The Willows Market in Menlo Park, CA. Shared with Sam and Loz during a brewday.
Pours a very pale, lemon-gold yellow colour, with a frothy, large head of white that persists as some gauzy lace. Body is light and fresh, with some fine carbonation. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is really rather nice. Sharp, fresh hops lend a herbal edge to an otherwise lemony aroma. It feels a bit dusky, and it doesn't have a huge amount of complexity. But it's bright and pleasant.
Taste is also decent, but it leans very heavily on the earthiness, which accentuates more of the bitter herbal character from the hops. There's some suggestion of salt lemon around the edges, but the fruit is definitely a secondary character on the palate. Carbonation is also high, which promotes some of the bitterness.
Overall, I like it enough, and I'm certainly happy to drink it, but I don't think it's one of my favourite outings from Anchorage. That's a bit of a shame, because I count myself quite a fan of Nelson Sauvin, and I feel like they could have done something quite special with it.
Pale yellow colour, almost green tinged. Head is white, nice and foamy, some trails of lace. Cloudy body. Looks like a fairly typical wild ale; cloudy with decent but unspectacular head.
Smells funky rather than tart. Decent sweetness underneath it, with some candy character. Good fruit character I guess with melon, orange peel and passionfruit maybe some mango. Good earthy, slightly grassy funk as well. Yeah honestly I like it more the more I smell it. Good complexity without being over the top and in my face.
Tastes a bit disappointing. Some melon sure, but mostly just funky earthy character that's quite phenolic, so the sweetness that matches it gets quite medicinal with an overly strong melon character that's quite rich and kinda cloying by the back of it. Kind of a coriander spice note too that's more earthy and less piquant than I'd like; ultimately a touch flat. Just needs more freshness.
Mouthfeel is a little fizzy really, maybe a touch light on the body. Doesn't do a whole lot for me really.
Drinks alright but just has this heavy and sticky kind of medicinal character that is just a bit too weighty while the rest of it around the edges has a good spice and funk interplay.
82 / 100
750ml brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with Sam back in Sydney.
Pours a very clear deep golden colour, with a light body to it. Carbonation is fine but swift. Decent lacing. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is very pleasant. It has a pungent wood-aged character, plenty of funk, and a greenness that has characters of cedar and peppermint. I get oregano and forest undergrowth—a kind of leaf mold, organic character. It's really lovely.
Taste is also good. It's got a lovely, thin, bright sharpness, that gives a metallic acidity through the centre of the palate. More cedar is apparent, softened by what I assume is that actual wood, oak. Finish is slightly metallic, with characters of pith and mineral salt.
Feel is bright, with a slight astringency from the acid.
This is a cracking beer, and a great first entry from this brewery for me. It's well-crafted and/or blended, and allows the acid to come through without overwhelming the other subtleties.
62 / 100
Pours a shiny gold colour. Slight haze. Head is white, with nice foamy character around the edge. Lacing is impressive. Looks good.
Smells tart and fruity. It has a real tartaric character like popping candy (for the record it reminds me of frootart chews), as well as typical acidic sour fruit character. Strawberry and melon sweetness as well. Yeah pretty nice.
Tastes a bit down. A bit more melon on it but it's quite rich and strong, with not much sweetness, lightness, and the tartness is just less pronounced here as well which is a bit of a shame. Has a kind of centre of a gobstopper flavour, candyish and not very nuanced. Just sweet and a bit rich-fruity. Yeah.........
Mouthfeel is slightly fizzy, decent body but not exciting.
Drinks a bit rich and sweet and needs more cut through either from acid or some bittering, it's ultimately kinda stodgy. Not bad though.
73 / 100
75cl brown bottle purchased from a beer distributor here in Australia. Cracked on my 36th birthday.
Uncaps with a snap-thunk hiss and immediately gushes everywhere. Good start, guys. Once it's pourable, I get a hazed golden peach colour in the glass, with an initially loose-bubbled white head that froths as monumentally as the uncapping, and then settles down to nothing. Body has a bit of weight to it, and the carbonation, which minimal, moves slowly through the glass. Looks decent.
Nose is spicy and sharp, with a little stonefruit, and a bunch of pepper. It has a leafiness that might seem herbal or medicinal, but there's always enough sweetness from the fruit characters. It seems balances as a result. There is a little grassy grain character—it's possibly the rye, but it's also quite subdued. It's nice enough.
Taste is pretty similar, but here it's more obvious that the balance is really nicely done. There's indeed plenty of peachy fruit through the centre of the palate, and it cushions the initial punch of spicy rye and yeast. The back dries out, with a very subtle acidity that nicely ties itself to the fruit characters. Finish leaves with a crackle of pepper and crushed herbs. I feel like we've exercised most of the flavour palette by that stage.
Feel is a little flat after it expended most of its carbonation in the initial flurry, but it's backed by a nice smoothness from the fruit in the centre, and a tannin-like dryness in the finish.
Overall, this is actually pretty nice. I like the structure, and the fruit is really nicely done. It allows the other characters to express themselves without ever overwhelming the palate. Nice stuff.
74 / 100
750ml brown caged and corked bottle purchased from The Willows Market in Menlo Park, CA.
Pours a deep golden colour, almost burnished orange at its core, with noticeable but not opaque hazing. Head is a loose crest of off-white that sits like grimy foam on the top of the body, but leaves minimal lace. Carbonation is very swift.
Nose is bright and vibrant from the start. It mostly comes from a pronounced, earthy saison note—a symbiotic blend of yeast characters that mark some of the classic aromas. But it's enlivened by the botanical characters as well, dandelion is more prominent, perhaps because it matches a weedy earthiness to the saison notes. Softer notes of vanilla orchid and jasmine come through as well. It's very pleasant.
Taste is also pretty good. It's dry on the front, with hints of future astringency. These notes rise a little in the mid-palate, as the earthy yeast takes hold. But there's a softening character that comes through, this time partially from the elderflower, which adds an aromatic sweetness, and more vanilla, which smooths the back palate. Finish has more jasmine and gardenia.
Feel is quite boisterous—the extra carbonation probably helps promote some of those delicate floral aromatics, but it also adds a surprising aggression to the beer.
It's an interesting brew, with a nice collection of aromas—they're aromas more than they are flavours, but they all add to an overall experience. All up, it's a nicely put together saison, that understands the base beer and adds a layer that complements it.
44 / 100
375ml green bottle purchased for me by Sam for a birthday or Christmas some time.
Pours a clear, moderate golden: the colour of clear apple juice, with an initially fizzy head which dissipates to nothing as fast as champagne. Carbonation is surprisingly slow through the body.
Nose is pleasant, but quite unusual. It has some tart characters, which provide a little lactic bite, and which combine pleasantly with that slight lightstruck green bottle character. But atop this it has a pronounced flinty character of phosphorous, smelling like matchheads and fire. It's actually not unpleasant, but I'm also not convinced it's meant to be there.
Taste is disappointing. It starts out with a flat acidity, a little bit like soda water that's lost its carbonation. In the centre, there's a pleasant classic sour character, with a little plastic acidity reminding me of some of the nice characters of lambics. But on the back it veers weirdly into sweet territory. Leaving a sickly, overt wet grain character that lingers for much longer than it should.
Feel is very flat, despite the persistent carbonation. It gives it a character like uncarbonated cider.
Overall, I'm seriously disappointed. La Sirène are one of the finest breweries in Australia, and a new release from them is always a treat as far as I'm concerned. I really hope that this is an off bottle, and not indicative of something they decided to actually bottle and release like this.
77 / 100
500ml capped and wax-sealed bottle purchased from Santa Clara Liquors in Santa Clara, CA.
Pours a very hazy dull straw-gold colour, with a loose-bubbled cap of white that leaves chunks of lace. Minimal carbonation, which is surprising for the style, but perhaps not surprising for the barrel-aging. Body has a bit of slick weight to it, which I didn't necessarily see coming. It's decent.
Nose is very pleasant. It has a pronounced sharpness that wanders between a kind of vinous acidity, and a woody note like cedar. There's definitely chardonnay barrel to it, with a fragrant oak note combining with the tartness, almost to create a kind of skunkiness. It's very good.
Taste is a little more subdued, or a little less obviously complex at least. From the nose, I was expecting more of a pungent wild tartness to it, but here it reigns itself back into the realms of saison. It's earthy on the mid to back palate, which connects with the oak and buttery chardonnay character. There's little actual acidity, although the wine notes promote the suggestion of it even so.
Feel is light, with a brightness from the subdued carbonation. It works well.
Overall, it's a nice brew, and a sophisticated, subtle and restrained one. The barrel aging is done well, and it aids the underlying beer. Overall, I'm definitely a fan.
78 / 100
12oz brown bottle purchased from Jane's Beer Store in Mountain View, CA.
Pours a pleasant hazed golden colour, with a fine white head that leaves pleasant sheeting lace. Carbonation is swift, rising through the light body in coarse bubbles. It looks rather sophisticated, to be honest.
Nose is immensely fragrant. There's impressive levels of lavender and peely orange; and it's generally very perfumed. I get characters of sandalwood incense, with rose and attar. It has a savoury undertone though as well, with hints of spit-roasted pork. It's complex and really surprisingly good. Even though it's really nothing like my favourite saisons.
Taste is pleasantly done—it's not so much the crisp, organic saison yeast I know. Rather it has the rounded, semi-sweet, semi-savoury tones of full-bodied Belgian tripels. I get baked beans, rose and bergamot, which is often a better set of characters for a Belgian beer anyway. There's something about this that really takes me back to the early days of my love affair with beer.
Feel is very light. Probably too much so—just a bit more weight, or a bit more smoothness would really help the beer.
Overall, though, I'm quite smitten. This is Unibroue playing their standard cards in an impressive way. For 4.5% ABV I'm just loving the complexity they get from this. I'd like to say that these guys are just underrated, but honestly, who doesn't love Unibroue? This is just these guys keeping the standard that makes them so good.
79 / 100
500ml brown bottle purchased from BevMo in Menlo Park, CA.
Pours a very slightly hazed golden colour, with a frothy, voluminous head of crackly off-white that froths despite careful pouring. It leaves pretty amazing lace down the inside of the glass, showing a lot of very persistent cling to the beer. Body has a bit of extra weight to it, but less than you'd expect from 8% ABV. It looks really good.
Nose is mostly filled with that classic Prairie buzz. Lovely bright fruit combo from the dry hops and the brett, which lifts it to a complex, frothy, sherbetty whole. There's lemon in there, and pepper, and pleasant dusty spice. It's really lovely.
Taste is a little more flat, but honestly, that just ensures that it stays clean and drinkable, without blowing off your head with complexity at every sip. It's a clean entry, with a touch of tartness. This turns more peppery, with elements of lemongrass and earth. Finish is nice and clean, but long, with a slight lingering bitterness. It's genuinely pretty tasty.
Feel is frothy—probably slightly too much, but it does give that kind of cushioned feeling to the rest of the beer.
Overall, I really like it. It's yet another very solid outing from Prairie, perhaps not quite delineated enough from their other beers. But when you're this consistent and this good, why mess with a good thing?
77 / 100
750ml dark green bottle purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.
Pours a pleasing, bright lemon golden colour, with an immensely frothy, coarse, rocky head of white that continues to spill from the top of the bottle. Lacing forms in specks, mostly, as the head has largely crackled its way out of existence. Body is light, but holds some static carbonation. Looks good.
Nose is very pleasant. Bretty nose with characters of crushed lime leaf and pepper. There's deeper, more organic characters though. A touch of turned mulch, undergrowth and bracken. There's a little banana ester underpinning it, but it's subtle, and you almost don't notice it—it's more like it's tying everything else together with sweetness. I like it.
Taste is also very good. It starts out quite punchy and a little astringent—more crushed leaves and some coriander spice. But it settles in to a lovely smoothness. There's notes of coconut and rice pudding on the back, which just let the beer glide to a sweet finish. There's some playful hints in the very end though—perhaps some of the hops come through a bit here, giving it a slight kick in the tail.
A really nice beer, this one. But I've started to expect nothing less from Logsdon. I'm not entirely getting the additional hops (and I honestly think that a really bright, hoppy version of their admittedly excellent regular range would be good). But it's still a stalwart, and very good brew from the stable.
74 / 100
750ml dark green bottle, purchased from Camperdown Cellars in Leichhardt.
Pours a slightly hazed golden colour, with a frothy, large-bubbled head of white that crackles down to a filmy gauze across the top. Carbonation is lively, with swift-moving streams of bubbles rising through the body. The weight seems like it should be light, but in fact it has some heft to it when the glass is tilted. Looks very good.
Nose is great. Immediately, the use of the green bottle is apparent, giving a lovely combo of skunk 'n' funk. It's organic and herbal, but with a perverse sweetness like candied lime. There's lots of traditional saison funk as well—lots of pepper, a little latex and some banana esters all wafting around the place. It's a really quite cracking aroma for a saison.
Taste is a bit of a mish-mash. There's some floral notes from the jasmine, which clash with the sharper peppery notes, meaning neither gains supremacy. There's weirder notes around the back, with some rosewater and a little petrichor. Back is slightly minerally, and capped with a rather forthright carbonation—it makes the finish seem rugged, bitter and aggressive.
The nose is great on this one, and is absolutely the star of the show. Some of the other characters might well soften with a bit of age, and I honestly suspect that the funk will only develop over time. This might be one to hold on to for a little longer. I might even go and get myself another bottle for the cellar.
58 / 100
On tap at the Royal Albert.
Pours an opaque pale straw colour, very cloudy. Head is white, dense and foamy; not retaining that well but lace is alright. Looks pretty good.
Smells yup lemon myrtly. Tangy, fresh, kinda sweet. Maybe a hint of rubber at the back giving the only saison note. Not too bad but fairly simple and one note.
Tastes similar, but not bad. Big sweet citrus myrtly note with a decent herbal twist to it as well as tangy citrus. Develops some weird saisony notes that are kinda yeasty, touch of organic mulch character and dried grass. Tang dies out and is replaced by malty and slightly bready grain notes on the back but finishes clean enough. Could up the body a bit as it's very thin and fairly flat, and then could amp up the lemon myrtle and allow it to cleanse more on the finish.
Drinks fine but a bit thin and a touch weird the way it finishes. Just sort of loses focus and ends up a bit messy.
70 / 100
Farmhouse ale brewed with rye and carrot seeds. Tried on tap from the brewery stall at GABS 2017.
Pours a cloudy apricot-yellow colour. Head is foamy and gorgeous. Looks great.
Smells barnyardy. Tangy, hints of apple and pear. Fresh and nice but quite simple.
Tastes barnyardy as well. Fresh and pleasant. Good rich sweetness coming through midway, blending with earthy barnyard funk. Really nicely balanced, and quite tasty.
Full, smooth mouthfeel, quite creamy. Maybe could use a touch more texture, actually, but good drop.
Drinks well. Sweet, smooth but with a good earthy balance. Definitely the best drop I've had from these guys.
61 / 100
Pours a pale gold colour, kinda hazy. Head is white, thin and disappointing with just a thin rim of lace left behind. Nice cascade when tilted though. Looks a bit bland, but not bad.
Smells very curious. Tart, funky, with a sharp acidity, some champagne and corporeal characters around the edge. Some really sharp fresh oregano and other herbal notes; tobacco even. Nice fruity freshness too, like orangey but also mango. Fuck what is that. It's a really pleasant nose, whatever is being used. Buttery oak, too, is big. Enjoyable.
Taste is so tangy, holy shit. And so oaky too. Big buttery oak from the start, that develops some fruity sweetness, orange and maybe some passionfruit in there. Yeah, maybe some woody and earthy bitterness midway but that oak just stomps on everything, it's like a weird lingering flavour that permeates everything. Makes it oaky-dry on the back, oaky sweet midway. Yeah I've completely lost track of what the base beer is, it just tastes like oak. Slightly tart too.
Smooth, very smooth, slightly dry on the back. Yeah this is where oak can really work.
This is a weird beer; it kind of goes up and down and I enjoyed parts of it and then didn't enjoy other parts, and I feel like there were enjoyable characters on the nose but they just got strangled by this subjugating oak. In the end a bit of an enjoyable mess.
48 / 100
Pours a golden colour, steady stream of bead through the beer feeding a kinda lacklustre head; just a sparse cloud of white foam, some nice clouds of lace left behind. Looks alright.
Smells a bit gruity. Some really earthy, even astringent spice characters, together with a soft phenolic note and a strange hint of bubblegum at the back. Yeah quite bitter and earthy, and could use some lighter notes to counterbalance it. I'm a bit apprehensive to be honest.
Yeah taste doesn't really do it many favours either. It's quite earthy, phenolic with a strange corporeal, almost urine-esque character midway that's also oddly salty. Towards the back it has this dry champagne yeasty kind of note but the saltiness continues, giving a slightly seafoody umami character towards the back. Finishes fairly dry-bitter with a slight barnyardy funk, but yeah it's a bit lacklustre; some decent flavours but not really put together in a pleasant, drinkable combination.
Fizzy, and a little thin. Dry, too, like the sort of beer that feels it gives you a hangover.
Yeah can't say I love this. It's bitter, earthy and dour with not a lot of lightness or freshness. Ultimately not that pleasant.
Pours a hazy gold colour, quite shiny, paleish. Head is whispy white foam, nice sparse webbing but not very sticky. Looks pretty cool. Not robustly fascinating but the kind of beer you want to drink.
Smells funky, and tart with a hint of spice. Some citrus and stonefruit characters, a slight banana note and some slightly phenolic funk on the back, maybe a touch metallic. Nice underlying sweet spice and the fruit characters are also quite sweet and pleasant. Enjoyable.
Taste is a little flatter, and a bit disappointing. Kind of a plain pale malt character is the main thing on the front. Some slightly tart, slightly phenolic notes dance around the edge with some lemon pith, grapefruit and a hint of some bandaid medicinal character. Finishes somewhat dry, clean with a slight detergent bitterness on the back. Slightly sweet on the back as well. Really not a bad drop; very palatable and thirst quenching even. But it just feels a bit desiccated and restrained compared with the complexities of the nose.
Decent body; slightly foamy texture that gets quite dry, even puckering, if you hold it in your mouth. Pretty nice.
Drinks well, but just doesn't really pop with much flavour. Feels a bit blandly sweet-then-bitter in a saison kind of way, and I expected a bit more depth, from the nose.
On tap at the Woolpack Hotel in Redfern for their Victorian State of Brews takeover during Sydney Beer Week 2017.
Pours a pale gold colour, somewhat cloudy. Head is tightly packed and dense, retaining a thin crown of crema. Lacing is decent. Looks pretty decent, yeah.
Smells pretty good. Hops are subtler than one would expect, with some sweet peach and apricot on there. Some saisony funk afterwards with a hint of rubber, some honey and really floral notes as well. Not as much of a punch as it could have had, but nice.
Taste is decent; has that dry and long, lingering barnyard rubbery flavour that's characteristic of throwing a potent saison yeast in a beer without necessarily the other flavours being constructed around it. Some, again, too subtle hop notes, with some overripe stonefruit and maybe some floral character. Barnyard and grassy funk towards the back and that organic rubber note continues on throughout. Decent drinking but not quite balanced enough and feels a bit dour.
Decent feel; nice body with a bit of texture as it goes down. Lingering dryness at the back. Pretty good.
Yeah needs something to freshen it up a bit more; otherwise it just feels like an amateurish saison rather than an India saison as promised. But not bad.
On tap at the Welcome Hotel as part of their Queensland State of Brews event.
Pours a fruity, curranty kind of amber colour. Head is white, foamy and dense, retaining a thin crown. Cloudy body; looks pretty nice.
Smells a bit too cold, mainly. Decent fruity character coming through subtly. Raspberry and rhubarb I'd think. Hint of vanilla, and some mild saisony funk at the back. Bit too obscure maybe because served too cold, but what's there is decent.
Taste is alright; definitely a decent raspberry character to it. Starts tart and gets a nice berry sweetness midway that continues to the back. Yeah some light tart and desserty notes throughout, some light caramel malt and very subtle saison notes on the back that come across as dryness more than flavour. Not very saisony but a good berry character well balanced with the other elements.
A little bit of tart pull on the feel, but a decent body to carry it off.
Drinks like a nice cleanser; lightly tart and mostly clean. Quite pleasant. Actually quite surprisingly good; I was skeptical but it's well put together.
71 / 100
Pours a pale orange colour, quite pale at the edges. Head is off-white, yellowish, nice foam that has retained quite well leaving some pretty thick, clumpy lace behind. Looks nice and impressive.
Smells pleasant. Floral and fruity. Dominant citrus note with some distinct melon character as well with cantaloupe and honeydew. Rich fruity character. Pleasant.
Taste is slightly tart. Nice rich melony note, quite fleshy with seedy notes, and a hint of lemon and guava on the late-mid. Not a lot of malt, just mostly tangy and tart and a little bit bitter, with that citric note giving just a hint of wildness with a mild barnyard earthiness as well. Tangy and fruity, good character. I like. Could use a bit more acidity towards the back just to freshen it up a bit more.
A bit fizzy, tingly. Probably a bit too much to it, could use more padding.
Tangy, fruity; quite pleasant. Maybe a touch too earthy and rich on the back, but nice flavours otherwise.
62 / 100
Pours a very pale amber colour, somewhat green-tinged strangely. Head is white, cloudy when poured but dissipated to a thin ring. Nice foamy lace though. Looks alright.
Smells funky and earthy. Slight stonefruit tang, slightly cantaloupey actually, then a big hit of bush pepper, unndergrowth and some barnyard notes with a sharp citrus hit on back. Cool, but fairly by-the-numbers for the style.
Taste is similar and a tad weird. Fruity but in a savoury way, kind of tomatoey really with a dry tartness to it. Slightly refreshing late-mid which helps temper the odd savoury note. Mild earthy funk on the back, hint of pepper to the finish. Not bad but the funk and acidity never really take off, and the dry tomato character get a strange character in the midst.
Decent body, bit of pull as it goes down at the end.
Yeah, I don't love it. Seems well handled in that the funk isn't excessive, and the tartness well controlled, but the flavour is ultimately a bit bland.
73 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased for me by Sam: day #4 of our 2017 #fletchvent advent calendar. Reviewed blind.
Pours a hazy straw colour, with a frothy, coarse-bubbled and fairly swiftly-descending head of white. Minimal lacing. Body is quite light and fluid, with some coarse-bubbled carbonation moving swiftly up the edges of the glass. Look decent without being particularly attractive.
Nose is pleasant, with a soft stonefruit character that gives a touch of tropical tartness. Under it is hints of wheaty grain, and something like sweet grass. It's almost a creamy character to the nose—a nice mixture of something slightly sweet, and something with some fruit, but underpinned with a sharpness. I like it.
Taste is very clean. There's a nice fresh brightness on the front, that clears out before it cloys, and certainly before getting too overt or sweet. It flushes out to a clean central palate with a hint of the stonefruit again—this time more reminiscent of apricots—and a fine effervescence. Finish is crisp and light, cleaning out the palate very nicely.
Feel is crisp—just right for the style. Whatever that style is.
Overall, I really like it. It's clean, fresh and very very drinkable. It has a hint of interest, but it doesn't feel to overwhelm the palate with it. The restraint is nicely done. It's a very well-made beer.
74 / 100
Bottle shared by Jez, sometime in history.
Pours a pale orangey colour, fades to a clear gold at the edges. Head is white, foamy bubbles. Nice trails of lacing on the glass and a slight haze to it. Head is curiously clumpy but otherwise kinda dull.
Smells funky. Big phenolic, band-aid kind of smell, but augmented with some tangy fruit - persimmon with peppery piquancy as well, and maybe a hint of tropical character. Funky but tangy; quite intriguing.
Taste is a bit milder than expected. Definitely funky but doesn't have that big spice character, though all the flavours are there. Starts tangy, with some citrus notes before some funky phenolic character comes in, barnyardy and mediciney. Some peppery spice late-mid, and then finish is mildly citric with some berry character as well, and mild phenolic bitterness. Pleasant and somewhat drinkable too, but the nose gave just a more intriguing and idiosyncratic character than the palate delivers.
Tingly and even sizzly on the front, then gets more solid and substantial late so it goes down better than it starts.
Drinks a little tough, it's quite phenolic midway and finishes that way too, so it's not particularly downable, could just use a bit more lightness.
40 / 100
750ml brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a very clear golden colour, with a fine ring of white, formed from coarse bubbles. Carbonation is very fine, and the body has a little bit of weight to it. It looks decent enough—pretty standard, but decent.
Nose is interesting. There's a definite oak character to it, but there's also a distinct organic almost-acidity. It has a slight vegetative quality to it—more like crushing herbs than anything naturally acidic. The oak is a weird match though. It has lots of vanilla and sweetness to it, which seems to undermine the farmhouse characters.
Taste is actually kind of rank. It has the smooth, oaky vanilla characters from the barrel, but matched with the slight acidity of the saison, it gives it an unpleasant, lactic cheesiness. This is further compounded by a slight vinous note that comes from the oak combined with a slight hint of booze. There's almost a grape candy character in the finish which isw completely misplaced. Nope.
Feel is fine—it's a little thin, but it's smoothed by the oak.
Overall though, this is actually kind of unpleasant. The lactic note is way, way off—the cheesiness is unpleasant, and even if that wasn't there, I'm unconvinced that the confluence of flavours is something that would actually work. I'll say it again: Nope.
500ml brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with Sam while brewing a saison of our own. Date of December 2015 on the bottle, which I assume is when it was blended.
Pours a pleasant, relatively clear champagne yellow colour, with a robust head of frothy white that settles to a firm film. Minimal lacing, just some light patches. Carbonation is very sprightly, rising swiftly in coarse bubbles. Looks good.
Nose is pleasant. It has a firm, almost salty character like limestone and black rock salt, but leavened and brightened with a pleasant lemon note. There's a touch of smoothness to it as well, especially as it warms, giving a faint hint of vanilla meringue. It's nice stuff.
Taste has a very organic barnyard kind of character to it—it's both minerally and slightly pongy. There's more of that rock salt note, but backed with a character like barn-laid straw and dung. It's a little offputting, but weirdly, it's connected well to the rest of the palate. The back is quite dry and light.
Feel is very dry, thin and with some big, bubbling carbonation to bloat it out.
It's certainly got the farmyard element down. There are bits to like and bits which are less enjoyable. In the end, I'm a little conflicted, but it has something to it that makes it stand out at least—I just don't know if that's a good or a bad thing.
750ml brown bottle purchased from Chuck's Hop Shop in Seattle. Shared with Sam back in Australia. Brewery with pink peppercorns, apparently.
Pours a slightly hazy pale yellow colour, with a fine, filmy head of white that leaves great streaks of lace. Carbonation is very fine, despite the body being really quite light and thin. Looks pretty good.
Nose is pleasant. There's a definite pepper character, but whether it comes from the pepper itself or the yeast, I'm not sure—I'm inclined to think that it's likely to be the pepper. It has a smooth rounded character surrounding it—a little like a banana smoothie. There's a topuch of crushed vegetation as well. It's not all that well integrated, but there are interesting things in it.
Taste is smoother, and more integrated, but also slightly more dull. There's a slight green vegetation or citric bite on the front, but it devolves into a rather empty mid palate—it's not thin though, and has a smoothness running around the edges that pulls everything back. The finish has a suggestion of banana and maybe a faint (almost phantom) tingle of that elusive pepper.
Feel is light, but with a smoothness which is quite welcome.
It's not bad, but it's also not quite coherent enough to stand alone, and it doesn't have the complexity to be genuinely interesting.
750ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Richmond.
Pours a rose-tinted golden colour, with a frothy white heat, staying insubstantially as a gauzy ring. Minimal lacing. Carbonation is swift and coarse, rapidly moving through the light body. The colour is nice, otherwise, it's a bit lacklustre.
Nose is slightly tart and crisp, with a definite vinous character adding a fragrant acidity. Under this though is the undeniable hint of dill and fennel, which add a semi-sweet anise to the mix. There's not much in the way of saison outside the acidity, and indeed, this only emphasises a thinness, turning slightly metallic and blocking the vain attempts of the bready malt. Hmm.
Taste is similar, or slightly worse. Here, the acidity creates a hole in the centre of the palate; an emptiness that has nothing to fill it. But the acid doesn't stick around either. Despite a punchy entry with a hint of tart, slightly peppery crispness, it evaporates quickly, leaving the back-palate to a tired refrain of almost bitter aniseed. The centre is flat and rubbery, like you get in a poorly made saison.
Feel is light and prickly. It's thin in the mouth, but with a series of carbonation stabs in the centre of the tongue.
Overall, this isn't good. The beetroot adds colour, the fennel adds a disconnected liquorice note, and neither can hide the fact that the base beer is poor. This is a big misstep for me.
78 / 100
750ml brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a rather clear burnished golden colour, with a frothy, effervescent head of egg-shell white. Lots of tiger-striping, intricate lace as it goes down. Body is light and fluid, with lots of anarchic carbonation. Looks pretty good.
Nose is great. It's fragrant and ripe, but with lashings of organic saison notes—lots of pepper and lemon peel. Turned earth and crushed spices come through. It also has a slight twang of something metallic, which might usually be offputting—but here it's a coherent part of the whole. Love it.
Taste is also good, but it's simpler, with a direct, thin acidity coming through the centre of the palate like watered down lemon juice. There are pepper earthy characters in the background, but they never make their full presence felt. There's a nice melon character though that takes on a little of the metallic note and pushes it into the mix.
Feel is frothy and light, but with a sharpness from the acid.
Overall, this is great—it's genuinely in the zone for Jolly Pumpkin. That's a good thing overall, and pushes it up in absolute terms. Is it the best of the Jolly Pumpkin beers I've had? Far from. But that just makes a case for how amazing the brewery is as a whole.
375ml brown bottle purchased from Lukas Liquors in Denver. Shared with Sam back in Sydney.
Pours a very hazy deep golden colour, with a foamy ring of white that stays persistently, but leaves little lace. Carbonation is fine and minimal. I thought I'd poured it quite carefully, but there are a lot of floating chunks of yeast sediment as well. So be it.
Nose is pleasant enough, with some woody, almost cedar notes that complement the aromatic, organic saison yeast character rather well. There's probably a hint of kumquat to it as well, but it gets lost among the saison notes.
Taste is pretty nice. There is a semi-bitter note of citrus here, which is pleasant. There's also a pretty pronounced coconut character, which I could believe is oak, and which might explain the wood notes on the nose as well. Finish is slightly earthy, but thinned out with a touch of metallic bitterness, that leaves more of that fleshy citrus in the aftertaste.
Feel is a bit flabby—the carbonation is low, and it feels too thick as a result.
Overall: it's alright. There is some kumquat note if you're looking for it, and it's a pleasantly unexpected flavour. But it's not amazing as a saison, and as much as I want the novelty, I'd prefer it in a better beer.
61 / 100
750ml caged and corked bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a slightly dirty golden colour, perhaps with a slight pink character when held to the light. Head is very coarse, forming a well-fed ring of off-white that persists due to the effervescence. Body is quite light. Looks decent enough.
Nose is slightly savoury. There's a semi-sweet, semi-tart character that gives a note like ketchup. But it has an earthiness from the barrels which makes it seem a bit richer and more complex. There's also perhaps a floral sharpness from the hibiscus. It's entirely possible I'm imagining it though.
Taste is also only so good. It's extremely carbonated, which gives both a carbonic acidity and a really frothy feel to it. The hibiscus gives a rather organic character on the back, with a slight candy sweetness to it. Finish is earthy. Decent enough.
Yeah, it's not bad. But honestly, this is almost certainly the least good beer I've ever had from Anchorage. This doesn't have the complexity. It doesn't have the confluence of flavours, and it doesn't have the balance. It's a shame.
59 / 100
Brewed for GABS 2017; one of three 'green curry' beers at the festival. Tried there on tap.
Pours a straw colour, very pale and very sedimenty. Head is white, visibly large bubbles but retaining a nice sparse crown. Looks pretty good.
Smells funky, with barnyard notes and a touch of champagne yeast character. Phenolic, too. Not a whole lot of curry but smells like a decent enough saison.
Tastes vinous. Vegetative, too, with some funky barnyard notes, some of that champagne kind of character and largely phenolic on the finish with a fair bit of bitterness. Again not getting a lot of curry but there's a distinct chilli note on the finish which kind of feels a bit incoherent from the rest of the palate. Otherwise a fairly non-descript saison.
Yeah a bit hot from that chilli spice. Decent body though, and a nice tingly carbonation which provides some good texture.
Decent drop but tastes like a saison-with-surprise-chilli rather than a curry saison, and I find it a bit disappointing as a result.
57 / 100
Brewed for, and tried at, GABS festival 2017 in Melbourne.
Pours a pale amber colour, standard beer colour really. Surprising clarity for the style though, with nice beige, foamy head. Looks alright.
Smells citric; kind of rindy and bitter with lemon and lime characters. Not bad and in line with what's promised, but somehow a bit overdone, it doesn't really smell that appealing.
Taste is a fair bit too malty; fairly large caramel character upfront that lingers throughout. Develops some lime zest, again quite rindy on the back, together with some phenolic Belgian character that's in keeping with the style but doesn't necessarily mesh with the other flavours. Bacchus Brewing brought a LLB beer to this festival two years ago and it was excellent; this... isn't.
Mouthfeel is fine, bit of carbonation texture as it goes down.
It definitely lacks citrus tang, and as such it's just not refreshing and gets bogged down in flavours that don't match the brief and don't go together well.
75 / 100
Bottle given to me by Jez. Had intended to hold onto it for a while but my 10-month-old was playing around with it and he shook it up enough to compromise the cap seal, so I felt forced to open it to avoid oxidation.
Pours a pale golden colour with lots of sediment that settles in clumps on the bottom. Head is white but maybe due to pre-shaking, it just settles out to a fizzy crown with no real lace. Looks alright, nice colour.
Smells saisony, but with a gorgeous tangy fruit character. Barnyard funk and a phenolic base, with orange sherbet, pineapple juice and a hint of banana. Some nice sweet characters as well, with pie spice and biscuity malt. Beautiful.
Taste is tangy for the most part here. Definitely that sherbet note with zesty citrus - orange and grapefruit on the front that gets bitter midway, phenolic and funky, with a grassy and herbal piquancy late-mid. Finish is dry and somewhat vinous, with just a touch of subtle acidity to pucker the slightest amount. Lovely complexities all smoothed out to a stable and level palate. Maybe just a touch flat on the midway where the rest is so jumpy.
A bit too much fizz, and again unsure if it's due to my son's accidental shaking. But it doesn't quite have the body to cover it. Maybe they should up the malt base, to cater to those customers who have 10-month-old sons who might shake up the bottle to dangerous levels. This is definitely a failure of the brewer and not me.
Drinks very nicely, good tartness and good mellow construction with plenty of complexity to enjoy as well.
Bottle purchased from Platinum Liquor.
Pours a golden amber hue with white head, bubbly with mid-size retention; decent lacing. Bit of cloud. Pretty decent.
Smells slightly fruity, earthy. Touch of funk. Hint of vanilla. Bit of metal, bit of earth. Not bad but a bit simple.
Taste is farmhousey; bit of malt on the front, with a crescendoing farmhouse note, quite spicy and earthy with a fair metallic whack on the late-mid, cleans up a bit but lingers with a fair funky earthiness. Not a bad saison, but a bit strong without a lot of those lighter shades of flavour that I tend to like in this style.
Fuzzy, slightly tingly feel, with a fairly solid viscous body. Not bad at all.
Tastes a bit strong. Bit metallic and a touch earthy-spicy. Not amazing but OK.
59 / 100
75cl green bottle purchased as part of a bulk order with some colleagues. Imported into Australia by the International Beer Collector.
Pours a pink-tinged golden colour, with a coarse-bubbled and rather fizze head of off-white, that persists as a bubbly ring. Body is light, and full of effervescence. Weak, sudsy lace forms when tilted. Looks okay, but not much better than that.
Nose has some reasonably pleasant saison yeast notes to it, matched with an earthiness that doesn't really do it much in the way of favours. It's actually quite flat as well, without a huge amount of complexity or broad aromas to give it a lot of interest.
Taste is similar: it doesn't help that it's overcarbonated, with an aggressive fizz on the front-palate that causes some degree of exhaustion. There's some sweet fruit through the centre, with a hint of cherry pit and peach. On the back though, we're back to earthiness, with a rough herbal character and a papery finish.
Overall, this is most certainly a disappointing outing from Fantôme. It's possible the bottle I have is old, but I would have expected more complexity and funk were that the case. I suspect instead, that either the beer just isn't that great (which would be rare from Fantôme), or it's been improperly stored or transported. In either case, it's a bit of a shame.
Bottle served blind by Jez on a brewday.
Pours a slightly cloudy pale orange colour with voluminous head. Yellow-tinged off-white in colour, like really quite yellow. Sinks unevenly but a bit meekly with a sort of soft foaminess seeming prevalent. Lacing is OK. Looks good, some flaws but good.
Smells tart and spicy. Some Brett notes, wild and funky with a touch of acid, and a sweet malty note at the back paired with nutmeg and cinnamon. Appealing. Appealing him off the sidewalk.
Taste starts off with a very foamy mouthfeel. Tart early and strong, with big acidic notes and some wild earthy barnyard flavour that gets sharp and astringent. Quite palate-stripping towards the back, with a lingering bitterness, somewhat tannic and a touch of organic grassy hay on the finish. Quite full-on, sort of bombards you with wild notes and doesn't really have enough nuance through the palate to balance it all out. It's quite blarey and obnoxious, with the subtleties of the nose just drowned in that dank bitter note that takes over. Disappointing especially after that appealing aroma.
Yeah, foamy upfront then big and sharp towards the back. Decently padded on the finish, though.
Yeah, it's a decent flavoured drop but seems really overblown and somewhat unbalanced as a result. Definitely in my zone but not a great example of my zone. 3.5
71 / 100
750ml brown bottle purchased from Chuck's Hop Shop in Seattle.
Pours a deep golden colour, thoroughly effervescent and very heady. It crests up quickly with a puff of off-white foam that leaves sketchy, sudsy lace. Carbonation is fervent and swift through a fairly light body. Looks the part.
Nose is brett-dominated, with a big, funky, semi-acidic character that leads to character of semi-ripe fruit and hay. There's almost a gueuze-like plastic character that comes through, with a frothiness that almost makes you smell the carbonation. Nice stuff.
Taste is really pleasantly subdued. Instead of the aggressive, bloating carbonation I was expecting, there's a real softness to the palate, this allows a tingle of flavour to express itself—some green guava, a little metallic sting and a lingering bitterness. The back is genuinely quite earthy, and it takes a bit of getting used to. The aftertaste twists the earthiness of the brett with a slight zing of metallic hops. It's always enlivened by a fine but vivid carbonation.
Overall, this is good stuff. The earthiness is perhaps just a tad too much, and it doesn't integrate that well with the rest of the flavours. But there's lots going on, and there's plenty of complexity to explore. Both of these guys, at least, know what they're doing.
72 / 100
750ml brown bottle purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.
Pours a very pale yellow colour, with a faint hazing through the body. Body is light and airy, with swirling powdery carbonation. Head forms a nice fine film across the top of the glass and leaves some specks of lace. Looks good, all up.
Nose is a fragrant, mildly tart affair, with some pleasant light skunk to it. There's a slight organic character and just a hint of crushed rose petals. Oddly, I can see this really popping with a bit more skunk character. Green-bottle, light struck—it would go nicely with the funk.
Taste is also pretty good. There's a pleasantly constructed organic funk, with some dusty, earthy Brett in the back palate. Front is clean and crisp, with a touch of acid, but mostly driven by a light, effervescent mouthfeel. Back turns slightly rubbery, with a semi-sweet underripe fruit bite in the finish. It's nice.
Overall, it's a refreshing, drinkable beer. Just the right kind of thing for a saison. It's light-weight, but that aids its drinkability in a way that a big 7% beer would not. It's pretty good all up.
61 / 100
500ml brown bottle purchased from Whole Foods, Los Altos.
Pours a loose, light-bodied brown-black, with a very effervescent head of pale brown that froths substantially on pouring, but becomes not much more than a thin layer atop the beer. Minimal lace, apart from some sudsy streaks. Looks decent though.
Nose is intriguing. On the surface, there's a pleasant saison funk to it, but it's also laced with a kind of phenolic, plasticky character that reminds me of what you get when you combine oxidation and Brettanomyces. And one I think about it, I can't really get it out of my head. Looking around it, there's a weird sweetness in the base beer—almost a milk stout, lactose sweetness. It's not bad, but I can't help but feel that it's slightly wrong.
Taste is slightly better, but there is still a slight unexpected plastic character towards the back, and a bite of iodine that makes it feel chemical and unpleasantly bitter. But there's also a round softness to the palate, which helps smooth over some imprefections. It integrates the funk in a pleasant kind of way, and the darkness is noticeable as a fine ashy film across the aftertaste.
Overall, this is okay, but I'm not convinced the oddities aren't actually unexpected flaws. Plus, it's only so interesting even if you gloss over the issues. It's still decent enough, but "decent enough" is something of a misstep for Prairie in my opinion.
Can given to me by Jez for Christmas. Tried by myself on a Friday evening sometime. Well it was last Friday, if you really care. Look at the date I submitted this review. Now you can determine the exact date I drank it. Happy?
Pours a pale vibrant gold colour, with head that's a bit stupidly big, it foamed over the top of the can and goes big in the glass but sinks quickly. Good cloud, slippy specks of lace. Not bad, but a bit insubstantial-looking.
Smells saisony slightly, but more kind of generic Belgian, with phenols and a slight wet lucerne character. Nice sweetness - slightly fruity but also takes on a bit of a caramel malt character. Tangy, phenolic and sweet. Really quite pleasant mix but not huge on the saison character.
Taste is somewhat dry and spicy; slight malty front then midway is all earthy, with a slight woodiness that gets slightly phenolic towards the back. Tropical fruit on the finish, very subtle tang but its mostly-sweet tropical character elevates the potentially bitter finish but also kind of eradicates it. As such the sweet finish is a little insipid with not a lot to balance it out. Interesting palate journey, but a couple of wrong turns. No dire consequences though, it ends up in a pretty good spot.
A bit drying and slightly bitty on the tongue. Finishes dry but mostly clean without a lot of linger. Pleasant.
Nice drinkable drop; the fruit could be moved a little forward on the palate with more saisony notes on the back; it ends up feeling a little off-kilter with somewhat underwhelming saison character.
Wheat and rye imperial saison, aged in Chardonnay barrels. Tried on tap at the Local Taphouse.
Pours a pale gold colour, very slight haze. Head is white, large bubbles but decent density in parts. Lacing is good and clingy while the head has sunk. Looks standard, but decent.
Smells quite malty. Rich earthy toffee notes with a hint of chocolate. Light tropical fruit aromas on the side as well, hint of mango mainly. Hint of earthy spice at the very back. Quite subtle and you need to concentrate hard to get really anything but whats there is very pleasant.
Taste is surprisingly sweet, and quite pleasant. Big caramel toffee note with a hint of peanut brittle. Strange fruit note that might be from the chardonnay and there's a distinct buttery french oak note to support that, particularly late mid, but it adds an additional sweetness that is maybe a touch too far. Don't get a lot of rye from it, which I would obviously love since I love rye, and also because I think it would counterbalance the butteriness a bit too. Pretty tasty but just a bit too much on the oak and not enough grunt underneath it. Not much saison either, really.
Sizzly mouthfeel, big carbonation fizz while body is maybe a touch thin.
Drinks quite well but it's very flavoursome and doesn't quite clean itself up as the back is all oak and little else. Nice but a bit unbalanced. I'd love to try the base beer without the barrel-ageing because I feel it gets suffocated in here and it sounds great at least on paper.
500ml brown bottle purchased from Bottleworks in Seattle.
Pours a lightweight, very clear golden colour, with a mess of frothy, fluffy, large-bubbled foam that sits as a fairly rocky white crest. Lacing forms in clumps. Carbonation is swift and voluminous. Looks decent enough.
Nose is quite sharp, with a pronounced seltzer acidity (probably from the vibrant carbonation) and some spicy tones. As it warms, and some of the carbonation blows off, it gains some more earthy tones—no genuine funk, but some dusky spice notes and hints of roasted squash. It's not bad.
Taste is also pretty good. With the sharpness on the nose, there was the threat this would be biting and phenolic. But instead, there's a broad, fairly smooth neutral malt character that softens it, and allows some of the spicier notes to play around without getting too intense. It is a little flat, and lacks some complexity—the broad malt note creates a balance, but also mutes the other flavours—but I'm pleased at least that it didn't go too far in the other direction.
Overall, this is a nice beer. It's not a spectacular beer, and I think it's only a competent saison. But a competent saison is generally nothing to sniff at, so I'm pretty happy drinking it.
78 / 100
12oz can purchased from Slowbeer.
Pours a lovely bright, cloudy yellow colour, with a frothy white head that looks like the top of a slushie. Lacing forms in long, cracked streaks. Body is light and supple. Carbonation is forthright, flowing in multiple streams of alternately coarse and fine bubbling. Looks good.
Nose is surprisingly strong on the saison elements, with a lovely smooth, velvety organic character providing the bulk of the aroma. It has elements of hay, salt and pepper, crushed herbs and leaf mold. But under this, if you're looking for it, there is a pleasant citric undertone. But rather than impose itself, it provides a linking point for all the other elements, becoming part of a coherent whole—almost the lynchpin, even though you don't overtly notice it.
Flavour is also very good. It starts off with a lighter, more peppery variety of saison, but it gets some smoother characters through the centre. There are notes of vanilla, with a light, organic banana ester character. In the back, there's a slight saline note and a very faint pithy citrus character, giving a light zest to the finish. It's the only note of the lime, but it's another welcome addition.
Feel is really very pleasant: clean and bright with a fine shimmer of carbonation.
Overall, I really like it. The saison that forms its base is complex, bright, drinkable and very enjoyable, and the addition of key lime is subtle but welcome. It accentuates what's already a good beer, without overwhelming it.
77 / 100
Can gifted to me by Jez for Christmas. Would have shared, but my visitors cancelled on me, so all the more for me.
Pours a pale orange-tinged gold colour with large voluminous head, froths up in nice dense column of white foam. Excellent trails of lace as it sinks, and it retains a thin half-finger crown. Pretty damn good.
Smells lovely. Big hoppy character with a sharp tangy citrus - lemon, orange and mandarin that blends nicely with the very slight barnyard character on the back. Slight spicier horsey note underlying at the front as it warms up a bit. Pretty damn nice too.
Taste is very barnyardy, possibly to a fault. It's still very pleasant but it really just goes all in on the saison notes rather than continuing with that hop-saisony blend of the nose. Slight dank lemon note hangs over it all with a pithy bitterness upfront and then late-mid, but the front and mid is otherwise all organic earth, lucerne and some peppery spice. Finishes nice and clean with a lingering fruity note. Definitely an interesting drop, big on the saison notes but just cleansed up to make it sessionable and accessible. Could use a touch more freshening up but it's very pleasant.
Mouthfeel is very strongly textured, big and chewy but ultimately fluid and clean. Great for the style.
Very approachable drop, with interesting flavours delivered in balance. Excellent Summer brew.
500ml brown bottle purchased from Bottleworks in Seattle
Pours a very hazy pale golden colour, with a coarse, rocky head of white that just leaves patches of lace. Body is slick but fairly light, with minimal carbonation noticeable.
Nose is bright and pleasant, with a fragrant, appropriately spicy character on the front, which mellows into sweet, almost tropical notes of orange and coconut. There's a slightly sweet note to it as well, with characters of honey and candied peel. As it warms, there's unusual peppery note that becomes more pronounced. I like it, and it has a good deal of complexity.
Taste is definitely sweeter than the usual saison, and those honey note create a slickness in the palate, despite the rather light body. There are noticeable Belgian yeast notes around the edges, but not enough spice or sharpness to cut through the sweetness. The balance is left to the carbonation, which is very light, and doesn't create enough—as a result, the beer ends up feeling a bit dense.
Too sweet when it came down to it on the palate, which is genuinely a shame, because the aromatics on the nose were special. They just didn't replicate where it counted.
80 / 100
330ml can purchased from Slowbeer in Fitzroy.
Pours a really pleasantly haze pale yellow colour, with a frothy, fine head of white that leaves excellent lace and a fairly fine gauze across the top of the glass. Carbonation is beautifully fine, as it always is in La Sirène's beers. Looks great.
Nose is also really good. It has a broad Belgian aroma to the beer, leaving sweet floral characters and fruity tones of ripe banana and carrot. But there's a slight tingle of sharpness as well, giving a faint metallic zing, which cuts through and also sets off the other characters. Yeah, it's really damn good.
Taste is less complex, but it absolutely then matches what it's trying to do, which is to be clean and refreshing. There's smooth, lightly fruity tones on the front, which gives aromas of funky pineapple juice, but dries out slightly towards the back, going slightly vegetative with flavours of grated carrot and banana. Finish is actually quite broad. There's a hint of acidity, but no sharpness, which means the flavour lingers until it peters out—there's no punctuation to the end.
Overall, it's a really great brew, and a lovely easy-drinking addition to La Sirène's stable. These guys genuinely have a beautifully unique place in the Aussie beer scene, and I can imagine that Urban Pale has it in it to become and absolute Australian classic.
74 / 100
Beer number 6 in my 2016 Advent Calendar from the Beer Crate. Reviewed blind.
Pours a pale yellow colour, fairly cloudy. Head is white, bubbly, pretty tiny and tightly packed with a good half a finger retaining. Some decent lacing left behind. Looks pretty nice for a pils, or something even more intriguing (like something that doesn’t look what it is!!)
Smells fruity and pleasant; some decent stonefruit characters that bend slightly towards the tropical – maybe peach and apricot with some passionfruit in there as well. Slight earthy, phenolic character as well as some slightly sour wheat malt. Pretty nice blend of fruit, spice and earth.
Taste is very fruity upfront, gets a nice late-hop note with bags of tropical flavour; some pineapple, peach and nectarine that lingers towards the back. Some slight bitter notes, hint of medicinal phenols and maybe a whisper of barnyard late-mid that develops into a slightly soggy bitterness that isn’t so heavy that it becomes dank or unpleasant. In the end it dries up a little like a shredded wheat biscuit, just a hint of spice ester and a hint of yeast that is a little clingy but not cloying. Really quite pleasant, summery drop with a good cleansing balance to it.
Mouthfeel is good; well-textured with plenty of substance to an overall light, drinkable body. Touch of carbonation tingle but not too rough.
Yeah, I’m enjoying this; crisp and palatable but with plenty going on on the palate. Enough sense not to go overboard while still packing a punch.
Later edit after finding out what it is: it's a little lacking in saison character although it's there. I enjoy it a lot but it could definitely amp up the barnyard notes a fair bit to make it even greater.
Purchased as part of the Beer Crate 2016 Advent Calendar. This was #6. Bottling date of 15th October 2016, about two months old. Reviewed blind.
Pours a slightly hazed light golden colour with a voluminous, foamy head of white that leaves chunky lace. Body is light, but holds some pleasant, fine carbonation. All up, it's a pretty good-looking beer.
Nose is fairly clean, with a faint, slightly floral hoppiness that turns more green and vegetative over time. It has a sharpness to it which is quite pleasant though. As it warms, the grain becomes a bit more prominent, giving a slight wholemeal bread and flour note, which is a little less enticing.
Taste is okay. There's a thinness through the centre, but no concomitant bite from hops, so it feels flat and dead rather than clean and crisp. Flavour is grain-based towards the back, almost heading towards a bread-yeast wet unpleasantness in the finish. It doesn't quite get there though and in manages to scrape out the back of the palate to make it feel fairly clean. But it's a bit lacklustre, if not actually bad.
Feel is weirdly broad, with a fine carbonation. It's okay, but it would be better with a bit of hop sharpness as well.
Overall, I'm actually not much of a fan. There are things in here that suggest something better than it is, but it seems to fail in a bunch of important ways, and the end result is something that's fairly unappealing.
(Note: There is no way in hell I was guessing this style blind. It has almost zero saison characters to it whatsoever, and the hops are really very minimal for something calling itself "hoppy". I probably would have been even harsher in my ratings had I known what it was supposed to be.)
Pours a pale shiny gold colour. Slight cloud in the body. Head is small bubbles, white, leaves some nice trails but sinks to just a fluffy crown. Some bead. Looks alright but head could retain better.
Smells nice. Tart and slightly bretty, but handled well so it ends up just fruity and slightly sweet. Touch of brass and some sweet spice plus slight barnyard and dry grass funk. Melon. Tasty.
Taste is huge on the melon, big and fruity with a good earthy bitterness midway and a slight overripe fruit late-mid that's sweet but also a bit rindy-bitter. Finishes fruity-tangy, rich and ripe, but a little bit too sweet for the finish and ends up a little dirty. Could use something else to cut through more.
Foamy, bit bubbly at times. Decent body for a beer that doesn't feel too big.
I like it, just feel it could use some beefing up, especially on the finish.
78 / 100
500ml brown bottle purchased from Bottleworks in Seattle.
Pours a faintly hazed bright yellow gold colour, with a wonderfully frothy and thick head of glossy white. Lacing is excellent, forming in very solid rings with intricate streaks.
Nose is great. Bright, clean fresh hop character sits vibrantly above a peppery base beer, with overtones of earth and clipped grass. Some very slight musky notes and a powdery sherbet sweetness. Smells really good.
Taste is good, but there's a really briney character on the back. It's actually a really pleasant fit though—it matches nicely with some of the earthy tones in the base saison, giving a slight note of seaweed. Bitterness is soft, but pronounced towards the back of the palate. It's genuinely pretty nice.
Feel is soft, with a very fine, very light carbonation.
Overall, I'm really impressed. This is a nicely made beer, with subtlety, finesse and balance. Genuinely very tasty.
57 / 100
On tap at the Royal Albert Hotel.
Pours a pale gold, cloudy with a big sediment cloud. Head was good when poured, but Jez had this first and then swapped it. Decent lacing but the retention is nice and dense too. Pretty good.
Smells like detergent. Touch of barnyard but a big sharp "chemical clean" sort of smell. Sharp and somewhat unpleasant, it just has the wrong parts of its two main elements.
Tastes like what it promises, and better than it smells. Big sweet orange notes with a candied orange peel kind of flavour, notes of chemical clean-fresh, and then some barnyard notes on the back, somewhat earthy with a touch of lucerne for more freshness. Fairly clean, and fairly odd. But not bad.
Good substance, good body. Little raw on the very back but well structured.
An odd proposition, well carried off in the end but dialling up the marmalade a bit more would just help that aroma be less off-putting.
61 / 100
Tried on-tap at the Forest Lodge Hotel as part of Sydney Craft Beer Week's Pint of Origin.
Pours a very pale yellow-straw colour, very solid with haze without being opaque. Head is very thin, only forming a very fine ring of white around the edge of the glass. Body is very light and the carbonation is almost non-existent. So it's not that appealing a look.
Nose is indeed lactic-sour. There's a slight dried apricot nose giving some fruit, with a hint of biotic yoghurt. This doesn't become overy or cheesy like in some lacto beers at least, and it's lifted by some cleaner grain notes, that trend the tartness towards mint and eucalyptus. It's not bad.
Taste is also pretty clean. There's a sharpness on the front, like unripe pineapple. But this dries out quickly, leaving the back flat and a little thin. Despite the emptiness towards the end, there's a peppery finished matched with a lingering tartness in the aftertaste, which reminds you where you came from at the start.
Feel is very light, with a slight, sharp sparkle.
Overall, it's okay. It manages to do what it's intending to do without skewing wildly off the tracks, which isn't actually that easy to do, given the number of kettle soured beers that end up almost being undrinkable.
330ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.
Pours a mahogany tinged golden amber colour, with a very enthusiastic head of large pinkish bubbles. The settles out after crackling itself down, leaving minimal lace. Body is light, but with small streams of persistent carbonation. Looks decent.
Nose is filled with a pithy cherry note, matched with a saison yeast character that's very much down the earthy, gravelly end of the spectrum. This does the fruit no favours, as it accentuates the aromas of seed and skin rather than the lighter, more delicate flesh. Because the cherry is dominant as well, it doesn't have a depth of complexity to it—that one aroma is basically it. It's disappointing.
Taste is similar, or, if anything, slightly worse. Here the earthy character from the saison is accentuated further, with a tannic bite from the fruit which leaves an unpleasant astringent character on the back of the palate. Body is bone dry, which doesn't help anything either, and it leaves the bit of astringency on the back with nothing to shield it.
Overall, I'm really very unimpressed. This is a poor effort from Red Hill, who do a very decent regular Saison. But this is just a bad idea, or done in a very naive way. The cherries do not help here: in fact they're to the absolute detriment of the beer.
750ml caged and corked greenbottle purchased from Leura Cellars.
Pours a hazy golden amber colour, with a coarse-bubbled, but large and persistent head of off-white. Minimal lace as the head crackles down. Carbonation is speedy and voluminous. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is dominated at the start by organic saison notes, accentuated by a lightstruck green-bottle skunkiness which matches it nicely. Once this blows, off, we get to the mineral, smoky notes of the whiskey malt, which work surprisingly well with the more peppery notes from the yeast. There's a sweetness that persists though, likely from the yeast more than anything, giving dull, broad fruit notes like red apple and jackfruit.
Taste is a bit more of a challenge. Here, the peaty, mineral characters are much stronger, giving it a slight sulphur rock and smoulder character. There's a bitterness as well which is much more pronounced, almost turning slightly rubbery on the back. But the pleasant parts dance around the outside: a pleasant organic sharpness like green capsicum, and a weird overtone of caramel on the edges and the back of the palate.
Feel is quite bubbly. There's a slickness to the body but a gassy, almost fizzy quality to the rest which seems slightly overdone.
Overall, this is decent, and interesting, without necessarily being successful or even that coherent. But having a big messy beer is sometimes what you want, and when it pushes the envelope like this, I'm definitely in favour of giving it a go.
69 / 100
On-tap at Duck Island Ale House in Seattle.
Pours a hazed pale golden colour with a frothy, solid head of white. Lacing is excellent, forming in fine cascading streaks down the glass. Carbonation is also very fine and pleasant. Looks good.
Nose is a bit light. There's some peppery notes, a little bread yeast and fragrant herbal characters. It smells a little like pizza dough. There's some slightly rounded notes which work reasonably well though. Not a huge fan overall, despite the positives.
Taste is similar, but there's a simplicity to the palate which helps a lot. It's clean and clear, leaving the herbal notes to sort of resonate or echo through the empty, slightly wet and moist cobblestoned alley of flavour. Back is a little organic or minerally giving some spicy, but flat notes. It's not bad. Feel is light. It works well.
Overall, it's a drinkable beer. It's not a huge, stellar saison, but it's fairly nice. It requires a little more thought to get it above this level, but this is about as good as you get for a naive attempt.
84 / 100
500ml brown bottle purchased from Chuck's Hop Shop in Greenwood, Seattle.
Pours an immensely cloudy, almost opaque lemon yellow colour, that seems darker for all the haze. Head is a fine, silky white, that settles into some pocked film, leaving some thin, fine lace. Carbonation is thin as is the body, which seems overly sharp in some ways.
Nose is excellent. There's a pronounced saison sharpness, with big aromatic notes of cedar and pepper, which are accentuated by the dry-hop note. This comes through with pine and flighty citrus tones, with aromatics of dried orange peel and pot-pourri. It's exceptionally good.
Taste is surprisingly mellow. There's a smoothness through the palate which evokes cask characters: a lack of carbonation, or a sweetness and slickness that stops the beer—despite its pungent, biting aromas—from being too sharp or harsh. It's a brilliant pivot. Instead, we get some peppery overtones, a little clove and some of the flavours of orange without the concomitant bite. It's a really lovely palate.
Overall, I'm genuinely impressed. There's some lovely earthy characters, there's some lovely hop characters, but they meld in ways that are not only unexpected, but also ways that are coherent: opening up new avenues of flavour combinations. This is a very fine, very drinkable and surprisingly novel beer. I love it.
84 / 100
750ml green bottle purchased from Slowbeer.
Pours an extremely clear golden yellow colour, with boisterous, large-bubbled streaming carbonation, which creates a rocky, loose head of crackling white. Body is extremely light and fluid, but vivacious due to the extreme effervescence. Looks very refined.
Nose is good, although it's subtle, and it took about three or four good sniffs before I started to get what it's about. There's a demi-sec dryness about this, that promotes itself from the yeast notes, reminiscent of a fine champagne. Similarly, the other notes turn slightly vinous as well, with hints of gooseberry, hay, sour cherry and plasticine. It needs time for some of the CO2 to burn off, and for it to open up—when it does, this is a delicate, finely balanced and wonderfully complex nose.
Taste is similar. It starts off very dry, almost with a floury note on the front that you fear will just dissolve into fizzy carbonation on the back. But the carbonation is tempered, despite the look of the thing, leaving the back rather soft, with a slight semi-sweet, semi-tart fruit character providing ballast to the otherwise light and delicate flavours. There's a slight earthiness on the back, turning a little medicinal (and almost a little tannic), and bringing back memories of that sour cherry note on the nose with a pleasant quirk of tarragon. It's really nicely crafted.
Feel is soft and light, despite the very lively carbonation.
Overall: this had a slow start, but sitting back and appreciating it I can say with great confidence that it's a truly excellent beer. There's a subtlety to it, but the craft and balance is superb. This is yet another fine example of La Sirène's commitment to doing something niche, but doing it exceptionally well. In fact, this might be the finest example to date.
70 / 100
Similar to previous review, found some old reviewin' notes I never entered. See Jez's review for context. Also picture. Because it's 2+ years after the fact for me.
Pours a bright orange colour, somewhat cloudy and sedimenty. Head is huge, off-white with a yellow tinge, webby and sparse but nice marshmallow-esque pillow in the middle. Looks great.
Smells funky, quite earthy. Plenty of citrus character with lemon pith, fresh-cut grass and some barnyard funk. Mild notes of cumquat and soil as well. Pretty nice, could use a bit more freshness or bite. Nice, though.
Taste is fairly funky. Slight tart edge particularly midway giving citrus and a touch of white wine vinegar. Lemon pith around the edges then provides the bulk of the finish, with a big astringent citrus character blending with a slightly duff note of organic barnyard. Tangy, pleasant overall. I feel it's a tad too bitter on the back, and it doesn't explore a lot with the tang upfront. Very decent though.
Bit of a pull and touch of sizzle from carbonation is noticeable. Body pads it well though.
Decent saison-type beer; doesn't really do anything amazing with the style, but certainly pleasant and enjoyable.
Old review notes found recently. Look at Jez's review to learn origins, context etc. because how would I remember.
Pours a dark cola colour, beige head that dissipates quickly, but a swill brings back large bubbles and leaves some specks of lacing. Not bad.
Smells somewhat roasty, but a slight tartness to it. Touch of cocoa, and some strong vinous character. Fairly rich, with a lovely balance struck between warring elements. A peaceful aroma.
Taste is more roasty: maybe the tart notes were just my imagination. Roasty, with notes of unsweetened chocolate, some orange peel, maybe a bit of liquorice. Slightly spicy; finishes fairly dull, with not quite enough body or character to sustain much of a back palate. Pleasant, though, and lightly drinkable for a marginally darker beer.
75 / 100
330ml brown bottle with a bottling date of January 2016, so around 7 months old. Best before is Jan 2018. A saison, dry-hopped with Amarillo and Cascade.
Pours a rather bright yellow-gold colour, with clarity in the first pour due to leaving behind the sediment. Head is fairly substantial, forming a frothy crest of white. Body is fairly light, and the head lacks some stickiness that would cause good lace to form. Looks good though.
Nose is very nice, and fulfills what I was expecting from the dry-hopping. Pleasant bright citrus characters from the hops accentuate the vague tartness from the yeast (or is it the other way around?). The yeast, however, also gives off pleasant aromatics like green peppercorns and grains of paradise. As it warms, there are more organic flavours that come out, turning a little meaty with bodily funk. But these are all trussed up with the American hop aromatics, and the whole thing comes out smelling really great.
Taste is good, but it's a bit tamer than it might have been. There's a lightness to the body, which aids the drinkability, but stops some of the intrinsic complexity from flourishing. This is still here, somewhat truncated. There's a pleasant spicy aromatic layer, giving more crushed pepper and cardamom, while the hops provide a more direct path to bitterness on the back. There is even an odd malt note, which is slightly biscuity and provides an oddly appropriate counterpoint—they mention Munich malt on the label, which could be its source. Overall, it's good.
Overall, though, this is a very nice beer. The aromatics on the nose really elevate it to something else, although the base beer is not an exemplar of a saison. It's very enjoyable overall, and light enough to drink for its refreshment value.
88 / 100
750ml dark green bottle purchased from Slowbeer.
Pours a beautifully bright yellow golden colour, with a slight haze that just seems to capture and refract the light. Head is very fine and pure white, providing a lively crest and some long circular lines of lace. Carbonation is languid. Looks the business.
Nose is extraordinary. Buckets of fragrant organic saison characters, giving cut green fruit, hay and sap. But this is complemented by an almost gueuze-like bite that gives it a slightly rubbery, peppery intensity. It's all reined in so beautifully though, and it makes a balanced, coherent whole. Holy crap this is an amazing smelling beer.
Taste is much more subdued, but it still makes a huge amount of sense. It's clean and light on the front, which just a mild yeast funk giving it some savoury qualities. The back is driven by earthiness, along with a touch of pepper, and a bright carbonation which is perfectly suited to the palate. Feel is pretty light, but very enlivened by the carbonation, which comes in at just the right time.
Overall, this is a genuinely brilliant beer. This has craft and finesse in every fibre of its being. It's balanced, amazingly drinkable, complex and well thought out. This is the refined kind of beer everyone must wish was more common from Australian breweries. La Sirène really are doing something no one else is. This is merely the latest (and possibly greatest) example of it.
57 / 100
Pours an amber colour, clear with some sparsely webbed large off-white bubbles on top. Fairly meh; I expect at least a little cloudiness from the style.
Smells phenolic and sweet in equal measure. Vanilla, some toffee and desserty spice notes. Medicinal lingering at the back. OK, but not great.
Taste is slightly tart but only slightly, with a general overwhelming sense of mildness on this palate. Chardonnay notes, with some fruit lingering from the mid, crisp green apple and orange zest notes. Oddly sweet overall, and lacking that classic saison character.
Feels fine for the style, bit of substance/texture but not a lot.
Not bad, but I expected really great things from this collaboration. I think my hopes were too high, it ultimately tastes like a safe brewing decision-by-committee.
Brewed for GABS 2016, tried there on tap.
Pours an amber colour, fair bit of cloud in the body. Head is foamy, cream-coloured but not amazing retention. Looks alright.
Smells fairly nice. Fair bit of oak character, dry wood but accompanying sweetness. Woody, with a touch of spice. Tangy and barnyard aroma as well. Pretty much what I expected but subdued and not amazing.
Sweet vanilla malt upfront, develops into a nice oaky character which is there but fairly simple. Bit of tartness towards the back, touch of brettanomyces and some barnyard funk. Has all the right characters but doesn't really develop any great complexities or interplay between them, just lays them all out like turf.
Decent body, nice texture in the mouth.
Not bad, but I don't get a lot of character from what was otherwise promised. Just feels a bit muted for what I expected.
Oaked saison, brewed for GABS 2016. Tried there on tap.
Pours an amber colour, fair cloud through it. Head is densely packed but doesn't really stick around. Pretty good; to style.
Smells sweet, and rummy. Fair oak character, with dark fruit sweetness and rum underlying. Not really very saisony, which is disappointing.
Taste starts sweet, with a caramel malt note and a touch of peanut character. Develops some rum characters midway and then a slight barnyard Bretty character towards the back, fairly boozey and just a bit barnyardy. What it's lacking though is the oak, just tastes a bit boozey without a through line of oak to link the sweetness with the wildness.
Decent body but the alcohol really comes through too sharp.
Yeah, I get booze rather than oak, and sweetness more than saison. Not really one of Holgate's best.
"India Peach Saison". High expectations from both a great brewery and following Burleigh's cracking peach saison at GABS 2015. Tried at GABS 2016 on tap.
Pours a gold colour, slight touch of cloud. Head is foamy, white, and a good crown retaining on the sample. Nice-looking saison.
Smells fruity. Not really getting peach per se, but certainly some droop and stonefruit notes - pear, passionfruit, and maybe a touch of peach as well. Some pine wood and organic barnyard notes.
Barnyard is huge on the palate. Funky and hoppy in equal measure, with passionfruit, pineapple dominate, with some slightly bitter and resinous hopping at the back. Tastes kind of familiar, without putting a huge amount of fruit or hops on a fairly generic saison yeast-flavoured finish. Still, pretty nice construction to make it enjoyable.
Body is surprisingly full. Decent texture.
More saisony than anything else. Could use more hops to cut through. Sinks a little on the funky notes.
61 / 100
On tap at GABS 2016 in Melbourne.
Pours a gold colours, clear with a nice foamy head that sticks around. Could potentially use a bit more cloud for the style, but otherwise looks good.
Smells fairly hoppy, oddly enough. Grapefruit and lemon notes give off a big west coast American character, with a touch of crisp green apple in there as well. At the back it gives off a champagne aroma which is the first primarily saisony note I'm detecting. Still, fruity and pleasant.
Taste is quite sour and citric. Somewhat organic and funky upfront which ticks the saison boxes but little else. Develops a crisp, tart note on the late-mid; green apple and grapefruit astringency towards the back that then gets clipped off to leave the palate feeling a little bland, in the end. Not bad but had a far more exciting prospect on paper.
Decent body, maybe a little sharp form the wild yeast in the end.
Refreshing drop. Not bad at all, but I feel it could have been so much more.
60 / 100
Bottle shared by Jez.
Pours a pale gold colour, clear but a touch of murkiness. Steady bead feeding a thin, disappointing ring of head. No lace. Fairly uninspiring.
Smells funky, with some nice organic barnyard notes, hint of rubber and a nice pleasant fruit salad note on top. Hint of coriander maybe. Pretty nice.
Taste is kind of weird. Fairly sour note but a strange savoury flavour upfront as well. Some salty notes and a touch umami. Gets some sour fruity notes late mid with a hint of banana, paw paw and mostly just underripe apple. Finishes pleasantly with a clipping of the flavour bourgeoning, just turning a touch crisp and tart to finish. Hint of dry white pepper late, too.
A little thin, and lots of texture. Feels a bit raw by the end.
Drinks alright, but doesn't have enough freshness throughout the main palate so the off notes just dictate play. The crisp finish is satisfying but more of that particular tartness would go a long way throughout.
750ml capped, corked and wax-sealed bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a vibrant golden colour, with exceptional clarity. Head fizzes up in a mild white crest, but settles out to nothingness, leaving what looks like a glass of still, aged botrytis semillon. Still, looks pretty decent, and I love the clarity.
Smell is very nice. Mild tartness is softened by some noticeable wood characters, and enlivened by the herbal additions. I certainly get some sage, and I would say something sharper like tarragon, but that's not what the bottle tells me. Some mild hints perhaps of oxidation, turning slightly metallic and flat, but with the number of ways this was sealed, I'm not sure that's what it is.
Taste is rather unexpected, because it's really very flat. It's really very dry and rather thin in the mouth which means the characters have to scream to be heard. But they're there, and they're quite pleasant. Mild tartness zings with a little lemon sherbet flavour, and the herbal notes give a slightly brusque bitterness on the back, almost turning medicinal, but hooked to a pleasant earthy quality. Finish is savoury more than anything, as the herbal notes persist while the tartness and the body in general have dropped away.
Overall, it's a nice drop, but it lacks the depth and complexity of a really good saison. I like the herbal additions though, and to be honest, they're what provide most of the interest in the beer. It's pretty decent in the end.
70 / 100
On tap at Frankie's Pizza; couldn't read the description so I reviewed it as I experienced it, which was basically an IPA. Note I've reviewed my scores down after finding out retroactively it was meant to be a saison, which it wasn't.
Pours a pale amber, very cloudy, nice foamy off-white head, lovely density and retention. Some lace but not much. Generally looks very good, even in plastic.
Smells fruity and hoppy. Tangy sherbet and fruit salad notes but a nice citric twang giving a slight resinous aroma as well. Touch of underlying caramelised note, really pleasant blend of fresh hop fragrance.
Taste is fruity, tangy from get go, with a slight caramel grain note upfront then gets sharp citric twang midway, with lychee, pawpaw and mango that leads to the late-mid. Resinous oily bitterness on the back with enough lemon and grapefruit to freshen and sharpen without going overboard. Big american hop notes all over it, maybe a touch of astringent bitterness on the back but otherwise lovely tangy drop.
Decent texture, gets a bit sharp on the back but enough malt base to carry it off.
I like this a lot. Dirty bitterness with a decent pale but robust malt base to provide the right substance. The right stuff even.
Having said all this, it drowns any saison notes in hops, which isn't a bad thing in terms of enjoying drinking, because the balance is there, but I can't really give it the same mark as a saison and a beer overall.
69 / 100
375ml green bottle, capped and plastic sealed. Purchased from Camperdown Cellars.
Pours a surprisingly bright pink colour (served me right for not reading the rest of the label beyond "saison"), with a pale salmon head that fuzzes out to just a fine ring. Looks pretty flat after this, although there is some very fine carbonation when the glass is tilted. Looks pretty good.
Nose is slightly earthy, but with an underlying suggestion of tartness. Cherry pip and stem notes give notes like cherry cola more than the aroma of a kriek, for instance. Aromatic notes of crushed pepper and a vinous, tannic note. I like it.
Taste is good as well. It's quite light and thin through the centre of the palate, but with a bright burst of cherry towards the back. Again, it's a particular cherry flavour that I associate much more with confectionery and sodas than with beer. It lingers aromatically in the finish, evanescing into more of an aroma as the beer disappears. Finish is a little tart and tannic.
Feel is light and a little bit slick.
Overall, it's an interesting beer, and one with an interesting cherry twist. It tends more towards tannic and vinous than actually sour or even funky, but it's a flavour that works. I was pretty pleased with it.
72 / 100
Bottle shared by Jez. I wondered where in my place he got the wooden backdrop for his photo, then I realised it's my chopping board.
Pours a pale golden colour, very cloudy, still with good head upfront that dissipates to a small, tightly packed film and nice trail of lace left behind. Looks pretty great but maybe body could look a bit less anaemic.
Smells sour, bretty, funky. Big vinegar note with some fresh cut grass, lemon and passionfruit. Yeah, big passionfruit to it and a hint of cakey malt too. Smells very delish.
Taste is quite sour and also quite bitter. Starts tart, vinegary that then gets quite acerbic and a bit astringent midway. Big phenolic bitter sour notes. Somewhat citric and a bit meek on the finish, but fairly nice. Gets a little strong midway so the finish being fairly mild is a good thing.
Body is decent, fairly smooth. Yeah alright, maybe a touch thin though.
Yeah, feels like it might be too much but drinks cleanly. Still could use perhaps a nicer flavour midway as there's plenty to like on the nose and it sets you up for a disappointment slightly.
750ml brown bottle purchased from Ales Unlimited in San Francisco. Shared with Sam in Sydney.
Pours a beautifully light yellow colour, with some minor hazing to capture the light. Head is a fine, frothy cap of white, that leaves excellent lacing. Body is slim. Looks refined and very pleasant.
Nose is decent enough, with a solid basis in that earthy Jolly Pumpkin yeast character. No so much acid, but there's a touch of breathy barnyard funk. A little fruit comes through—not the mango promised, but more like tangerine peel, and perhaps just a touch from the tamarind. Some grape must is also noticeable. The earthier side trends towards green peppercorns and river reeds. It's nice.
Taste is also decent, but a little thinner than is often the case with JP. Slight peppery bite, with more earthiness and little to elevate it. Bitterness is pronounced on the back, with tannins and bitter, leafy herbs. Some oak flavour, but little smoothness in the finish. Feel is quite thin and sharp.
Overall, this is a pretty decent beer, but I'm unconvinced that it's as good as most other Jolly Pumpkin offerings. There's still skill and craft to its constuction, however—it just lacks some of that wonderful complexity and balance that their best beers often showcase.
82 / 100
Bottle served blind by Jez.
Pours a pale gold, clear; head is off-white, foamy with small bubbles. Lacing cradle is pretty nice. Looks pretty good.
Smells like getting dropped into a vat of ripe passionfruits. It's not one-track but that is very dominant. Notes of rose petals and lychee, guava developing as well. Touch sweet, very tangy and very delicious.
Taste is very fruity and oddly complex. Odd kind of palate construction. Has tanginess upfront then gets sweet midway with big lychee character before finish is tangy, with more of that passionfruit, touch of citrus as well that's really quite tart and almost gives a finish like a sour beer but there's not a lot of pull, and there's a lightness on the finish that is a bit soft drink-reminiscent. Faintest touch of amaretto on the very back as well. Tart, refreshing, sweet at times; don't really know how to compartmentalise this beer except under the header "very tasty".
A bit of body; and a bit of pull that then doesn't carry on to the back and confuses me slightly. Still, pretty good.
This is actually a hell of a beer. Blind tasting, it's got me completely bamboozled as it doesn't really conform enough to one style but gives off huge idiosyncratic fruit flavours and plenty of fun. Suffice to say, it's well worth a drink.
90 / 100
750ml brown bottle purchased from Healthy Spirits in San Francisco. Shared with Sam back in Sydney.
Pours a good clear golden hue, with a coarse-bubbled, frothy white head that leaves streaks of lace. Body is fairly light, but the carbonation is fine and tight. Looks pretty good all up.
Smell is phenomenal. Amazingly bright, fresh hop characters giving kiwi, passionfruit and carambola, mingled with some peppery spice from the saison and even a slight twist of funk. It's all very clean, but pungent and punchy from all the aromatics. I love it.
Taste is also superb. And here it comes in unexpected ways. There's a slight funk and tartness to it, but this melds beautifully with the characters of fruity hops, giving guava and passionfruit notes, a bite of acid towards the back, and a clean finish with a linger of sauvignon blanc. It's refreshing as anything as well, and beautifully complex despite this.
Feel is light, a little frothy from carbonation. It's not the beer's best aspect, but it certainly does it no harm.
Overall, this is stunning. It's super refreshing and drinkable, but with mountains of complexity and a beautifully constructed aroma. This is top-notch stuff—highly, highly recommended.
On tap at the Royal Albert.
Pale orangey-amber colour, very cloudy. Dense white head, retaining decently. Bit of feed from below. Pretty sedimenty, but nice overall.
Smells funky and tart. Big wild aroma, bretty with metallic undertones. Slight floral hints and some underripe apple. Pretty decent but can't shake the slight coppery edge which is less desirable.
Taste is a bit tart, but a lot yeasty, especially on the back. Rips into the front with barnyard and bretty funk. Gets some floral notes midway, rosey mostly and some peach, vinegar. Finishes very yeasty though, slightly grainy with a sour mash character overall. Pleasant, but not quite enough body to carry off the full effect of the wild yeasts.
Yeah a fair sizzly bitey tartness, rips back on the tongue. Quite a nice sensation but it could be padded with some more malt presence.
Refreshingg but intriguing. Despite its faults it's very drinkable.
Can gifted me by Jez; shared with Chris.
Can exploded when opened. Head is hugely effervescent, taking up most of the glass and then dissipates to very little. Sparse webs, white. Cloudy body, pale saffron. Static bubbles on the sides. Not bad but the explosion was annoying.
Smells hoppy and pleasant. Fresh fruity, with citrus, passion, some red velvet icing too. Touch of cinnamon and pineapple sorbet. Fresh and pleasant. Touches of Belgium in there but could use more saisonyness. Still, nice.
Taste is better. But also distinctly grainy with a big Maris otter kind of character. Some hop notes on the midway with fresh but sharp citrus and some pineapple. Mild subtle Belgian phenols late-mid, but not a lot of oomph. Feels more like a fruit-tinged Belgian pale rather than a saison. Some herbs, but nothing really typically saisonyness. It's quite nice but not really to style.
OK body, touch of texture. For the size, quite impressive.
Nice Belgian tinged ale with fresh flavours, but as a saison it doesn't really hold up that well I'm afraid.
69 / 100
Oddly tall 330ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a pleasant golden colour, with hints towards orange in the deeper parts, but mostly burnished, slightly hazy and bright. Head is a frothy mass, and almost gushes out of the bottle on opening, leaving some sudsy lace around the edge of the glass. Looks pretty good.
Nose is very pleasant, with some sharp green cut-grass notes across the fairly mellow Belgian malt aroma. Hint of lemon—it's not as ripe, fragrant and funky as some, but it's still pretty classic.
Taste is a little bit less complex and certainly less rounded. There's a sharpness, possibly yeast-based, that lends an earthy bitterness towards the back. There's not much of the roundedness, the sweetness that it really needs to support it. This gives it a tight tartness a little like green appleskin. It's not unpleasant, but it doesn't quite balance itself like some of the better stylistic examples.
Feel is a bit frothy, with some smoothness that helps with much of the palate.
Overall, it's a pleasant beer, and a drinkable one. It's not a stellar example of a saison, but when a saison is stellar the beer as a whole is likely to be world-class. So that's not really a slur on this beer itself.
750ml brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with Sam back in Sydney. Dark rye saison with Brett? Sam's probably going to love it.
Pours a deep brown, dark enough to be fairly black except at the edges. Head is foamy and full, but running out of steam pretty quickly and leaving not a lot behind in its wake. Body has a bit of heft to it, but the carbonation seems to be a bit lacking, and not really sticking around when tilted. Looks decent though.
Nose is a little spicy and dark, with a bit of caraway and anise. Some mild rounded characters give a slightly Belgian yeast edge, but surprisingly not a lot of Brett. There are some interesting deep savoury spice characters which give some interest, but overall it's not very punchy and in your face.
Taste is decent, but surprisingly empty. There's a slightly frothy feeling to the whole thing, as though there's plenty of air in it which stretches out all the other characters. There's some of that caraway spice, a little dark rye bread and some mild dry grain notes. But it also has an emptiness; an ephemeral kind of volume to it that adds time to the palate, but not a lot of new flavours or complexities.
Feel is similar. It feels frothy and empty, which would be good if there were something to fill the void.
Overall. I'm actually a little disappointed. There's some nice characters to it, but it doesn't really integrate into something really interesting. Mostly, it feels like there's a lot of scope for something to be better, and it just doesn't deliver.
79 / 100
Pours a pale golden colour, light bead. Head is very generous: foamy, off-white. Retaining a lovely thick foam on top. Sparse trails of lace. Looks good.
Smells funky, organic, but fruity and sweet. Passionfruit, mango and guava on there with some barnyard and wet hay hints. Lightly tart in a bretty kind of way, and fresh, with an odd caramel note that's only odd because of how well it integrates. Really lovely.
Taste is very heavy on the passionfruit - wow, it's all over that. Tangy passionfruit seeds, with some bitter bite and then blooming with other stonefruit on the back - peach, mango as well. Touch of funky bitterness midway that lingers a little and tastes a little rank, but not unpleasant, and nicely cleaned up by that hoppy tang. Fruity, just slightly barnyardy. Very pleasant.
Slight carb sizzle. Feels a bit thin actually, as it really rakes across the tongue.
Pleasant, fruity, tangy drop. Really light and summery but with enough weirdness to remind you of who's boss, despite its affability.
88 / 100
750ml brown caged and corked bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with Sam back in Sydney.
Pours a beautifully bright and clear golden yellow colour, with a crackling, coarse head of white that settles out to a messy film, leaving some lace in its wake. Body is quite light, but holds fine, slow carbonation when tilted. Looks great.
Nose is exceptional. It's a genuinely gorgeous marriage of hops, funk and oak. It has big bold fruity characters that mesh beautifully with hints of tartness, and smoothed out be a really well integrated wood note. There's lemon peel, orange pith, and deeper sweeter notes of mango and red papaya. Gosh, it's really very good indeed. I could smell this all day without even feeling the need to take a sip.
Taste is also good, but in a very different way—and one which I didn't expect. It actually starts out extremely dry and almost empty. But this is its charm: it's laying down a clean, blank canvas that then allows subtle complexities to come out and play. More sweet citrus notes, tropical fruits dance out in aromatic swirls, while the back has a bit of wood and some dusky, organic notes from the brett. And all of this happens with a crisp, light feel that makes it very drinkable. It's very clever indeed.
Amazingly drinkable, and subtly complex. There is so much to love here. You can love it for its complexity. You can love it for its oakwork and wildness. But most of all you can love it because it's just damn drinkable. All of those things put together make for a truly remarkable beer.
73 / 100
On tap at Maquila.
Pours a burnished amber with thick, almost nitro-ish head when poured, two fingers of off-white foam. Lacing is tiny, sadly, and the head looks odd on a saison but always good.
Smells very funky and phenolic. Big medicinal flavour, touch of honey and orange blossom water. Slight pie spice character too. On point I guess, but I don't love it.
Taste is very sweet upfront, with a cupcake/beignet kind of character. Develops some honey midway as well as some fruity esters - baked pear with cinnamon and apple - then finish is somewhat funky with some horsey notes and a touch of intense spice. Not quite traditional saison but has all the traditional saison flavours and works them interestingly.
Smooth, creamy body. Not sure of this pour, but it almost feels hand pulled or nitro, it's vety smooth and filling. Works great with the style and the sharp spice too.
Pleasant saison, tasty and complex. Maybe just a touch too intense on the back.
750ml brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Refermented in the bottle with Brettanomyces.
Pours a very pleasant hazy pale yellow colour, with a very fine, pure white crest of bubbles that leave excellent, lively lace. Carbonation is very fine and languid, and forms in pleasant powdery streaks when tilted. Looks very good all up.
Nose initially smelled quite pleasant and broadly funky, but given just a little exposure to the air, it takes on some rather disappointing characteristics—specifically, it has a noticeable tart cider-like note, and an even more worrying character of chlorine and chlorophenols. If you swirl it enough, you can mask it—with more of the slightly tart, slightly fruity notes coming through more strongly, but it's a worry that it's there, and it puts me off the beer a little.
Unfortunately, the taste doesn't alleviate this at all. There's an unpleasant plasticky note to it, along with a flavour like bitter almonds and medicine. This lingers on the back while the carbonation tries valiantly to pummel it into a touch more submission. Finish has chloriney notes of bandaids and plasticine.
The body is very fine and the carbonation is beautiful, however. It's a shame it has those unpleasant notes.
Overall. I just don't want to drink it. That's what it comes down to. There's something most certainly offputting about letting this beer linger in your mouth, and even more offputting about swallowing it. I'll pass, thankyou.
500ml brown bottle purchased from Ales Unlimited in San Francisco.
Pours a haze golden amber colour, with a thin, fine head of white that doesn't leave much lacing but stays as a fairly persistent ring. Body has some weight, but surprisingly, the carbonation is a little coarse, forming in moderate streams. Looks okay though.
Nose is a little mild—not properly sour, but not funky and aromatic either. We're given a mild seltzer/carbonic note, which works against a disappointingly prominent malt note, which does seem a little out of place. There's some slightly pleasant peppery notes as it warms, but it's not enough. It's still interesting, but it's not at the peak of what I know Prairie can do.
Palate is similar. There's a thinness that permeates it, and which makes everything seem a little washed out. Sure, there's some mild spicy funk, and a genuine tartness, but there's not the structure or balance to support it—it feels a little like it's slightly acidic for no good reason. That being said, there's nothing unpleasant about it either.
Overall, it's decent enough. I'd certainly not go so far as to say it's not a good beer. Prairie know their shit too well for that to ever happen. But this is not an exciting entry in their oeuvre. I don't mind drinking it, but I'd genuinely prefer... well... almost anything else in their repertoire. They can do better than this—and that's not really much of a slur on this beer.
58 / 100
Dry-hopped saison, you say? Sign me up! 22oz brown bomber purchased from Whole Foods, Los Altos. Bottled on July 10 2015.
Pours a mildly hazed bright yellow colour, almost lurid in the light. Head is a fine white, that settles out to a film without leaving much in the way of lace. Body is surprisingly light for 7.5% ABV. Carbonation is fine, but minimal. All up, there are some good things to it, but it doesn't look the picture all up.
Nose is pleasant enough in certain, slightly awry ways: there's a funk to it, but it gives it a slight wet corn character. There's a greenness from the dry hops, but it does tend towards the grassy. But, everything is subdued, and in a relatively nice balance, so it still feels reasonable.
It's a similar story on the palate. There's a pleasing roundedness to the palate, with a touch of funk and organic haziness to it. But it's hard to deny that this makes it feel overly sweet, and without much in the way of hop character outside the aroma, it feels slightly rank and sickly. And yet, it feels well-structured—nothing is necessarily wrong with it, and the characters feel quite deliberate. I'm just a little unconvinced.
Feel is full and round, with a subversive carbonation which doesn't tingle the palate, but does provoke a lot of burping the more you drink.
Overall. I know it's hard to justify why, but I'm not a fan. There's not anything necessarily wrong with the beer, but all together, I don't necessarily want to drink it. There's pleasant things to it, and a few weirdnesses, but the structure and composition is good. And yet here we are—I don't really like it, and I don't know why.
79 / 100
500ml brown bottle purchased from Whole Foods, Los Altos. Called it a Saison, despite the name, since it's a pilsner/saison hybrid, and fermented with French Saison yeast.
Pours a cloudy yellow colour, with a very nice, full and frothy head of whipped-meringue white that leaves superb lace. Body is crisp, light and fluid, with very swift, somewhat coarse carbonation. It looks really good.
Nose is rather pleasant. It's certainly tending towards the saison end of the mix, with some clean, sprightly tartness, but is refreshed by a clean singing green note of clipped grass and crushed vegetation from the hops. As it warms, the yeast gives off some peppery notes as well, which just works well with the blend. Very nice.
Taste is also very good, and appears to make the case for this being more of a blend. There's a crisp bitterness on the front that gets balanced once the yeast kicks in. Here, the yeast characters are very spicy and peppery, with crushed pepper and coriander seed coming through quite strongly. Body is light, which doesn't allow some of the sweeter smoother esters come through.
Very drinkable, clean and refreshing. It's actually a really nicely put-together saison in its own right, and yet you can still see the pilsener influences in the slight kick of hop bitterness and the very light body. It's really well done.
85 / 100
On-tap at the K&B in Surry Hills, towards the later stages of their Feral 33-tap takeover.
Pours with a genuinely proper colour and haze. Deep, cloudy and yellow, with deeper hints of orange. Full in the body, firm and smooth, with a very fine, minimal head that nonetheless leaves impressive lace. It's a great looking beer.
Nose is tight. There's a little bit of pepper, a bit of crushed greenery and a slight undertone of acid. Fragrant Belgian roundness gives more fullness to the aroma. A little melon comes through, and with the mild tartness, even a suggestion of ketchup. It's very interesting all up, and genuinely pretty close to the style of the Belgian examples.
Taste is great. In fact, it's verging on brilliant. Lovely smoothness through the palate keeps it rich and firm, but the flavours turn mildly spicy, peppery and fresh. Lovely Belgian, rounded characters give is some base, but there's mild astringency, peppery phenols and a dryness on the finish that make it extremely drinkable. Lovely.
Feel is very smooth for the most part, allowing many flavours to be imparted, but is then cleaned up with that tight dryness in the finish. Love it.
Overall, this is a genuinely cracking saison, and absolutely bang on style as far as I'm concerned. La Sirène do a cracking Australian saison as well, but this may have actually pipped it—I'm not sure I've had a better example of the style from our shores.
Pours a bright orange colour. Opaque, so a big, vibrant colour. Trickles of bead. Off-white head is kind of thin. Tiny bubbles. Alright.
Smells fruity. Touch of funk and robust melon. Some medicine. Smells Belgian, not really saisony enough though. Some musk.
Taste is more saisony. Lots of funk; notes of fresh cut grass, hay, some medicinal phenols that aren't too strong. Somewhat to style, and yet has a heavy note late that I don't love. Good flavour profile overall though. Could just use a but of lightening up on the back.
Smooth, good texture. Decent body for the style.
Standard saison character but handled well. Could have been handled better but still, handled well.
85 / 100
"Brewed with cubeb peppercorns, anise seed, lemon zest, and lemon juice". Tried on-tap at Bitter Phew from a rare keg with expensive single pours.
Pours a dusky golden colour, mildly hazed and bright when held to light. Body has a bit of heft to it and holds minimal coarse bubbles of carbonation when tilted. Head is a fine, slightly off-white ring that leaves filmy steaks of lacing. Looks good.
Nose is crisp and sharp, with some mild underripe fruit and a touch of butter or cream. Definitely some oaky smoothness, which gives it a slightly flabby undertone as a counterpoint to the acid. Barrel definitely comes through. Pretty interesting stuff.
Taste is better. Here, there's a lovely fruit character coming through, mingling with some true tartness and pithy funk. Flavours of bitter melon, mandarin skin and kaffir lime give it punch, while the true acidity draws the palate out into a strident length; parched and arid in the finish. Aftertaste gives a few ephemeral, lambent notes of underripe peach and green bark. Yum.
Feel is clean and biting on the front, but with a restrained cleansing dryness on the back.
Overall, cracking stuff. Really well constructed palate for a sour, with some of the subtle complexities you expect from the best blended gueuzes. Its balance is wonderful though, which means it always feels very easy to drink. A really top drop from JK.
75 / 100
750ml classic green Fantôme bottle purchased from Leura Cellars. Shared with Sam and our Dad.
Pours a peachy yellow-orange colour with a massive head of foamy, egg-white crust that settles out to a silky foam. Firm, thick lace that causes a solid basin to form in the head. Body is light and vivid holding some lively carbonation. Looks good overall.
Nose is pleasant rounded classic Belgian characters bright and tending towards the fruity notes. Classic Fantôme notes, with a stewed tomato baked bean note, but dusty with some dry chocolate cocoa hints, and an aroma of rosewater as it warms. It's very interesting.
Taste is also pleasant. It's clean and light, with a quite pronounced fragrant saison character around the back. Slight bubblegum note and something a little bit plastic and green with a sharpness like underripe tropical fruit. There is a hint of spicy bite on the back from the chili, but the chocolate isn't around at all on the palate—it's only there from the nose.
Feel is thin and clean. Fine for a saison, but always surprising for a 8% beer.
Overall, it's really a very interesting beer. It's subtle in its differences from the regular Fantôme range, but enough to make it stand on its own. I like it.
70 / 100
Bottle shared by Jez with me and Father.
Pours a pale amber colour, hugely cloudy: sedimenty in fact. Sudsy head, large bubbles, white. Nice lacing. Pretty good.
Smells saisony. Patented Fantôme yeast character - barnyard, with a slight vanilla sweetness and a touch of berry. Pleasant indeed, even though I don't get a lot of cocoa or chilli.
Taste is big and saisony, with a large cherry ester on the mid-palate. Barnyard, phenols, some rubbery notes on the back, and a very mild chilli warmth on the very back. Not very spicy but a linger. Not a lot of cocoa either. Tangy, funky mostly. Still, enjoyable.
Smooth, substantial body with a bit of a drying and bitty texture.
Lots of nice character, but doesn't really deliver on its promise of chocolate or chilli. It misses an opportunity to make itself something great.
60 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a peach golden colour, very hazy and a bit light in the body. Head is white, forming a lovely meringue-soft crest of solid foam. Looks very good.
Nose is faint and slightly dull. There's a bit of stonefruit to it and a bit of vanilla from the oak, but there's not a great deal going on in general, and it's certainly not broad and potent, which is a bit of a shame.
Light, empty entry on the palate, with some mild, faint, earthy hops coming through on the center. Slight astringency towards the back and a little bit of tannin in the finish. It's quite dry though, especially at the back, and it's not great overall.
Feel is very light, I'm not sure it's even worthy of going into a barrel.
It ends up pretty dull. Not bad, just dull, and it doesn't seem as though there's really much true interest to be gained from its wood aging either.
43 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne. Brewed with carrots, for which it has received a fair bit of media attention after the fact.
Pours a carrot-orange colour, very hazy but light in the body. Head is almost non-existent, but it's probably white. No lace, no noticeable carbonation. Looks pretty underwhelming.
Nose is dull. Maybe there's something slightly vegetative here, but really it smells like nothing. There's some very mild, clean funk or Saison earthiness, but even these are not particularly interesting. It's incredibly bland given what it set out to do.
If anything the palate is worst. Disappointingly thin opening followed by a dull, flat mid-palate and a thin finish that feels more like a bland pale ale than anything with an interesting concept behind it. Aftertaste is watery.
Feel is incredible light.
Is it drinkable? Sure. It's mostly flavourless. This was a really disappointing effort, because I can imagine how to get a carrot beer tasting rather pleasant. This is weak, uninspired stuff.
77 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a yellow straw colour with some hazing to it. Body haz a bit of oomph to it, and holds fine, minimal streams of carbonation. Head is a solid white crest that collapses into a full ring that leaves similar rings of lace. Looks good.
Nose is great. Bright rosewater matched very pleasantly with some saison funk. This gives it a heady pot pourri note cut with some pleasant brighter citrus, and a little spice (perhaps cinnamon) and vanilla. It's very nice all up.
Light and peppery on the front palate, allowing the funk to come through a little more, along with some fruity citrus that stays pretty fragrant. Mid-palate is clean with notes of musk and rose but cut with sharper tones of pepper, marshmallow and sherbet. Back is light fruit and tart funk, but the aftertaste stays clean and lovely.
Feel is very light, with a touch of frothiness to it.
Overall, I think this is really very good. Little Creatures really do know what they're doing, and they've particularly had a couple of GABS beers which have been really fine. This is one of them.
61 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a pale yellow colour with fairly solid haze in the body. Weight is decent, although it only holds some rather weak, insipid carbonation. Head is white, forming a very coarse, dull ring and no lace. I'm not inspired.
Nose has a touch of mild citrus to it, with a touch of hay and tartness giving a hat-tip to the Saison in its name. Some pickle vinegar comes through as well, with a bit of pepper giving it a slight savoury edge. There's some interesting notes here, but I'm not sure I like them.
Light and slightly fruity on the palate with a bit of stonefruit and citrus. Rounded Belgian notes on the mid-palate and an odd peppery sweetness to round out the back. Aftertaste is flat, but with a lingering almost meaty yeast note.
Feel is thick but light.
Eh. Overall, it's not great. It's not bad either, but it doesn't really do anything interesting or provide a truly interesting flavoursome beer either.
61 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a clean yellow colour, with some hazing and a bit of weight to the body. Head is off-white, formed of some coarse bubbles that look like the result of perturbation rather than carbonation. In actual fact it looks almost completely dead and flat, disappointingly.
Nose is slightly vinous but mostly quite flat. There's a hint of something metallic and an odd sensation like the smell of toasted tomato sandwiches. Overall, it's actually fairly dull.
Light and smooth on the front with a vinous quality but nothing truly acidic. Weird vanilla notes through the middle, possibly from the barrel, and just a little bit of chardonnay towards the back. It's also pretty dull though. Smooth enough on the finish at least.
Feel is pretty smooth, but sorely lacking its carbonation, which would lift it a lot.
Overall, it's OK. But it really could be a lot more interesting. The fact that it's not is genuinely a shame.
58 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a very hazy brown colour, with solid weight to it and fine carbonation. Head is beige, forming a firm solid film and ring. Lacing is sheeting and very good. Looks solid all up.
Nose is slightly rubbery and spicy. Slight touch of anise give it a different tone, but the plastic and rubber note really just makes it smell like the inside of a packet of balloons.
The rubbery theme continues on the palate, while the mid palate throws some raw beef into the mix as well. Slightly flabby with a touch of spice. Long finish with some wet grain to it, but it's still quite thin.
Feel is very light.
Overall, it's not actually awful, but there's enough here that's slightly unpleasant, including a touch too much spice that doesn't work. It ends up being slightly dull as well, even though it's not undrinkable.
78 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a lovely bright, deep golden colour, with brilliant clarity in the glass. Fine, decent carbonation swirls through it when tilted. Body is light but smooth. Head is just white, forming a fine ring that leaves solid lace. It's a good-looking beer.
Wow, the nose is impressive, and very peachy. Fragrant and juicy with fruit—it's one note, but it's a good note. Sweet and fragrant, perhaps laced slightly with a hint of graininess to remind yourself you're drinking beer. I like it.
Fragrant, sweet and fruity on the palate too, with a full-bodied mid-section that stays clean despite the fruit character. Drops out a little towards the back with a touch of dusty astringency the only really tip of the hat to the saison in its name. Slight lingering carbonic note in the finish, but theres still plenty of peach fragrance sitting around.
Feel is smooth enough—it works despite the lack of body at the back.
Yes, it smells and tastes like peach. But it does it very well, and it ends up being really drinkable and refreshing. They've hit that on the head at the very least.
8 / 100
(Bottom of the Barrel)
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Very, very pale in the glass, with heavy hazing in a fluid, but solid body. Head is white and forms a lovely thick crest that leaves wonderful sheeting lace. Carbonation is very fine, and looks especially good when tilted. Unfortunately, that's about the last nice thing one can say about this beer.
Nose is immediately attacked by rubbery, burnt, chlorophenolly nastiness, actually amplified to some degree by the presence of the lemongrass. It's really quite awful, although being able to perceive the lemongrass is at least something of a boon. But I just can't get over that burnt plastic note. Nasty.
Flavour is just as bad. Chlorine, band-aids, rubbery, plasticky, bitter and medicinal. There's really nothing going for this.
A write-off. This was a dreadful beer, and easily my least favourite of the festival. If I'd brewed this and tasted it coming off tap like this, I would have scratched it without a moment's hesitation. Nasty stuff.
Pours an amber colour, very clear with nice dense creamy head, both in colour and texture. Could retain more and have more cloud in the body, but not bad.
Smells funky, earthy. Touch of grapefruit and lemon, but mostly just a phenolic barnyard note with a touch of damp wool. Could use moar hop just for the India factor.
Tastes funky, bitter and phenolic. Lots of barnyard notes throughout with a nice subtle citrus lift at the end that clips off the Belgian notes and leaves it quite nicely crisp. Touch of resin. Still, needs a bit more hop.
Decent body, touch of carbonation and a slight alcohol warmth as well. Lots of presence; pretty decent.
Nice drop, very saisony, but it under-delivers on the hops, both for being calls "India" and generally being from Sierra Nevada it doesn't seem very robust.
So they called this a 'wit' at the Taphouse so I reviewed as such.
Pours a champagne colour, clear with just a ring of white foam left around the top. Not head. Not at all. Shakes head. My head.
Smells butterscotchy. Caramel and vanilla with a buttery edge. Touch of mild spice, mostly aniseed and a touch of honey. Meh.
Taste is sweet upfront. Buttery notes with a lot of honey. Weird sweet pie spice mix towards the back - clove and star anise. Tastes OK but not lovely.
Decent body, with slight tingle from carbonation.
Not bad, but as a beer, it's as confused as the internet seems to be trying to determine what this is. It's just a bit of a mess.
39 / 100
A wheat farmhouse ale brewed with white sage. Tried on-tap at the Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst during their 4th of July Spectapular.
Pours a surprisingly clear and deep golden colour, with a minimal head of white that really only stays as a thin ring. Minimal lacing, and almost no carbonation. It looks pretty dead in the glass.
Nose is very disappointing. Slightly syrupy malt sweetness, almost oxidised in character, with a flabby wheat note giving a stinging and overt sugar character to the mass of the aroma. This is only slightly mitigated by a mild peppery herb character—probably the sage. To be honest, I'm not impressed.
Taste is quite similar. Here at least there's a boozy astringency to cut through the sweetness of the malt—but to be honest, it's rare that astringency is a genuinely positive character. Herbal quality is still there around the edges, but it really has to contend with the overt sweetness and the slack, heavy golden malt. I'm unimpressed.
Feel is very thick. It just perpetuates the unpleasant characters of the palate, which doesn't help it at all.
I'm genuinely quite shocked. Stillwater do amazing beers. Is this insanely old? Has it been stored next to a furnace at a abattoir? This is genuinely very unimpressive, and I can only hope this is a result of the journey it's had to have made to Australia—even then I've had much better versions of their beer on our shores.
Tried on-tap at the Local Taphouse during their 2015 US Spectapular.
Pours a pleasant, but rather deep amber colour, magnificently clear in the glass—both the colour and the clarity don't immediately scream farmhouse ale to me, but let's see where we get. Head is a nice fine crest of white that leaves fine sheeting lace that looks pretty solid. Body has some weight to it. Looks good.
Nose is Belgian first and foremost, with a strong rounded yeasty quality bringing a little bit of funk and meatiness to the fore. When you looks for it, there's a slight grassy character that comes around as well, giving a little bit of pepper to sharpen it a little, but it's more of a riff on a Belgian-style nose than a true interoperation between the two elements.
Taste is also pretty reasonable. Pleasant rounded Belgian note on the front, with a touch of pepper more from the yeast than the hops. There is a noticeable bitterness here that would indeed be out of place in a traditional Saison or Farmhouse, but this is pretty much the first time that we've seen this from the amalgam.
Feel is smooth, but with a bit of a bite from the booze, giving even a slight hint of astringency.
Overall, it's not bad. I've had better examples of the style—it's Belgian first and foremost, but I've had numerous hoppy ales from Belgium that are better, and more hoppy and fresh examples of the style from elsewhere that are much more interesting. In the end, it's something of a disappointment.
49 / 100
Pours a dark brown colour, clear with dense beige head. Bit retaining on the top. Looks pretty nice. I don't know what a dark saison is meant to look like, but here it is.
Smells sweet and slightly roasty with a bit of funk. Caramel/vanilla sweetness and a slight barnyard/phenolic character. Not bad.
Taste is...off. Lots of funk but not a palatable, natural or organic kind of funk, tastes kind of chemically and unpleasant. Quite sweet on the front and that retains to the end. Don't know if that unbalance is what's causing the weirdness or if there's a fault here. Either way it's not very nice.
Texture is OK, goes down quite nicely for the size.
Don't know what it is but there's some really weird notes all over this that I just can't reconcile.
Pours a gold colour, mildly hazy. White head, sparsely bubbled that sinks. Pale. Kind of meh.
Smells floral, with some nice piquancy coming through and plenty of funk. Horse blanket with a slightly peppery edge. Not a lot of hop but pretty pleasant.
Caramel malt upfront that needn't be so prominent for as long, before the true heroes take over. Barnyard funk with a slight woody character that then develops a slight damp wool/off note towards the back. Some fruit on the finish but it's weak, and a bit insipid really. Doesn't have the cohesion of the better hoppy saisons out there.
Thin body but works quite well with the flavour.
I've had better beers. Weirdly sweet actually, and saison notes are a bit too weak for me.
74 / 100
Pours a gold colour, touch of haze with lovely head - dense and white. Could use a bit more cloud for the style but otherwise pretty good.
Smells fruity. Peach is foremost and nicely tangy. Not a whole lot of saison character but somehow I get a different aroma vibe than I would if it were just a pale ale with peach. Touch of sourness. Not bad.
Taste also showcases peach in a big way. And yet that peach flavour feeds other flavours: pear, green apple, touch of sourness and barnyard, touch of wood and finishes surprisingly crisp and pleasant, when it could have ended so stodgy and sugary. It's still very sweet, and gives a slight alcopop vibe, but it's a pleasant sweetness, one that I enjoy.
Touch of fizziness on the mouthfeel which mars the beer a little. Adds to the soft drink alcopoppy atmosphere which I'd prefer to be divorced entirely.
Very nice drop overall. Lots of nice characters and drinkable as hell.
This was my #8 beer of the festival.
57 / 100
Champagne coloured, not really the red colour that was promised. Pale beige head, creamy with good retention. Apart from the colour, really nice-looking beer.
Smells of sweet spice. Big cinnamon character but not a lot else going on. Was expecting farmhouse and oak from the description but all I really get is a simplistic pie spice note. Meh.
Taste is similar with notable sweet cinnamon character. Slight rum notes that give notice of oak but the wood itself is not really distinctive. Touch of licorice towards the back and a slight vinous note. Decent beer, but really nothing special.
Decent body, maybe a touch of booze as it goes down?
Perfect description of this is 'decent'. There's nothing particularly wrong with it but I just expect more from Holgate.
Saison brewed with carrots and spices for GABS 2015.
Pours an orangey amber colour, hugely cloudy; almost opaque. Head is white, sparsely webbed and not retaining. Looks OK; intriguing colour.
Smells predominantly of spice. Touch of carrot maybe but then do carrots have a smell? Sweet and vegetative I guess. Touch of cumin, mostly sweet. Surprisingly appealing.
Taste is a bit more saisony than the nose. Slight nutty malt becomes dry and champagney by the mid, and develops a slight barnyard note late. Distinct carroty sweetness from early-mid to the finish that complements it all quite nicely. Actually surprisingly nice, and refreshing.
Decent body, fairly well textured.
Sweet, with some pleasant cut-through notes.
Pours a straw colour, fair bit of cloud in the body. Head is white, sparsely bubbled. Bit pale, but OK.
Smells champagney rather than oaky. That's not such a bad thing though. Vinous, with some funky barnyard characters around the edge. Not bad.
Taste is more on the oaky side. Still quite vinous with a slight chardonnay character, the oak is very French with a fair woody flavour to it. Touch of lemon at the back gives a big tangy character. Yeah, really rather chardonnay-esque and pleasant.
Decent body, not much texture.
Pretty decent vinous brew.
Very, very pale colour. Almost white. Just a touch of cloud that probably has more colour than the body. Foamy white head. Too pale but otherwise quite nice.
Smells off. Not barnyard off, but like rubber and chlorophenols. No lemongrass at all. No anything apart from industrial waste. Ech.
Ech, worse on the palate. I was willing to give this the benefit of any doubt but it's just rubbery, plasticky, gak-like. Masses of chlorophenol. Tastes like the Olida beer, only worse because I didn't make it, and because this is a profesionally-brewed beer on showcase at a big festival. There's no saison and definitely no lemongrass here.
Thin body, flat, yeah goes down nicely provided you can suppress your gag reflex.
Tastes off. Too much in weird saison spectrum. I just think there are flaws here that detract from what might have been OK.
75 / 100
Pours a champagney colour, touch of cloud with large bubbly head that sinks fairly quickly. Not bad, could use a bit more colour given this is a 'rose' saison, and a touch more cloud since this is a 'saison' saison.
Smells saisony, quite decently so. Champagne notes with pear, green apple and a mild funky barnyard hint. Rosewater comes through strongly, however, and it's a surprisingly good combo.
Taste is sweet and rosewatery as well. Lots of sweetness to it, with vanilla, sweet spice coming through as well, then a slight tilt towards the funky late. Chardonnay oak, champagne, green apple and a touch of citrus. Not hugely saisony though, just some touches of farmyard around the edges of this rosewater through line. Still, pleasant drop.
Thin body, fairly decent texture though.
Not hugely saisony, but a really nice beer. This was an honourable mention for me at the festival.
76 / 100
Pale orangey-amber colour, fairly cloudy. Head is white, small bubbles. Generous and sinking nicely, although not perfectly. Lace left is nice. Looks pretty good.
Smells tart, vinegary. Funny kind of musty smell, but lots of grapefruit and vinous notes. Barnyard funk, wet lucerne. Quite acidic-smelling without a lot else on there.
Taste is nicely balanced, actually. Decent malt notes with a bit of honey upfront. Gets tart midway, some ascerbic vinegar character that mellows out with some nice barnyard characters and a touch of Chardonnay oak. Yeah, quite French-seeming. Reminiscent of the Russian River Temptation. Could maybe use a bit more tartness, but I'm willing to make that compliment. Tasty.
Full-bodied, doesn't have much texture. Again, could use more tartness. I expect it, but I don't hate that it isn't there.
Very tasty beer. Not over the top at all, and I'm grateful. Really well-handled.
(Note I didn't know this was the Jolly Pumpkin/Anchorage collaboration while reviewing. In hindsight I should have guessed)
82 / 100
750ml brown bottle purchased from Southwest Parkway Market in Austin TX. A collaboration between Jolly Pumpkin and Anchorage was way too good to pass up, even if where I bought it was far from the breweries' homes. Shared with Sam and Rich.
Pours a pleasant deep golden colour, suggesting orange when it's not in the dark, but otherwise more yellow. Head is a pleasant frothy crest—quite thick and full initially, settling out to a foamy mass that forms islands on the top of the glass. Body is very light, and there's almost no visible carbonation—mostly because it moves so quickly. Looks pretty good.
Nose has classic Jolly Pumpkin funk to it—certainly more the JP yeast character than the Anchorage version. It has a rubbery, almost gueuze-like quality to it that suggests a particular type of funk to come. It tends towards pepper as well, giving a light, green peppercorn note, smoothed by some oaky characters of vanilla or jasmine. It's very pleasant.
Taste is also very good, and is much more restrained than it might have been in the hands of two less-competent brewers. There's a mild peppery sharpness on the front, but this is smoothed away masterfully into a rather clean, oaky flavour. There's a slight kick of tartness on the back, but this is worked into the pepper note, and leavened with some fragrant coconut.
Feel is smooth but very light. It's a soft touch—almost evanescent, but providing enough hidden weight to support what they want to do.
This is very good—it's not the brash, bold complexity you get in some of these guys' beers, but it shows a deep understanding of the characters they're working with. This almost feels like the beer that these two breweries always wanted to brew to show their subtlety and sophistication, like they want everyone to love this beer as much as they do. And maybe I'm a suck-up for saying if this is the case, they've absolutely nailed it. I loved it.
71 / 100
Bottle gifted by Jez, shared with Andrew.
Pours a bright orange colour, slight haze. Head is off-white, a bit whispy and sparse. Slight cloud on the top, bit of lace around. Not bad.
Smells Bretty and oaky. Fair acid to it with pear notes, and decent vinous oak. Bit subdued, but very very nice for what's there.
Taste is even more subdued. Fair saison character to it, with some buttery chardonnay oak on the back. Some brett, some citrus, but yeah it just feels empty like there are big holes in the palate that are just missing. There's no reason at 7% it should be so empty. Nice flavours but I need more.
A bit of carb, slight pullback from the brett. Nice texture.
Drinkable, enjoyable. But makes me wonder what else could/should have been there.
88 / 100
750ml caged and corked bottle purchased from Southwest Parkway Market in Austin, TX.
Pours a pleasant deep black colour with an initially very frothy head of tan that settles out as a rather coarse-bubbled film and stacks of streaky rings of lace. Body is very light, which is quite suitable for the style, and the carbonation is swift but fine. Overall: fits the bill nicely for a black saison.
Nose is phenomenal. Wonderfully blended fruit from the hops with the fragrant, funky tones from the yeast. Galaxy gives some deep mango and passionfruit tones, while the yeast allows for some sharper fruit tones like persimmon and feijoa. And then, there's a noticeable dark tone from the malt, giving a subtle earthiness and mild toasted depth to the beer as a whole. It's so complex and so beautiful, and yet all of the aromas work in concert to create a perfectly balanced whole. Amazing stuff.
Taste is almost as good. Light prickly entry, accentuated by some forthright carbonation makes way for some fragrant saison tones, bringing to bear all of Prairie's most excellent skills in this area. But in true style, everything is kept light and approachable, without the dank wet hay stank you can get in the more intense saisons. This is partially due to the hops, which are fragrant and fruity throughout, and elevate the beer to a richer place. The back is a little dry and light, which helps persist this as well. Only in the very finish do we get a faint hint of toastiness from the dark malts, and this melds beautifully into the dryness from the yeast and the low body.
Feel is indeed light. It's certainly what you'll get from a beer like this, and it suits it well enough.
Overall: this is brilliant stuff. It's a wonderful integration of disparate elements that just works into a harmonious whole. This is the sort of beer Prairie does so well, especially with their gorgeous control on the wilder, funkier elements. I really loved it a lot. My only regret is that I didn't buy a second bottle to bring back to Australia with me: Sam would have loved it.
79 / 100
Served from a bottle at the brewery in Austin, TX. This is a saison brewed with beets, oranges and local thyme, and fermented using JK's blend of local wild yeasts and bacteria.
Pours a deep beet-red, but light and clear in the body. Weight is also fairly light and fluid as it swirls. Head is just off-white tending towards pink, forming a filmy bubbled cap. Lace is thin and sketchy in patches. Carbonation is very fine giving the suggestion that there's a bit more weight to it. Looks good.
Nose is very rustic in classic Jester King style. Vegetative and herbal with big root veg characters coming through. Definitely some beetroot, but also a savoury richness reminiscent of carrot soup or vegetable stew. And yet, it's also bright with zesty acidic characters. It's really unique and really very interesting.
Light and clean entry on the palate, getting a little peppery with some notes of medicinal herbs. In the mid-palate, we get more of those root vegetable characters, almost sweet, while the body stays clean and pithy with a spicy acidity. Back is quite dry with just a bit of lingering pepper, which builds up in the aftertaste to something slightly astringent.
Feel is light and crisp, which suits it well.
Overall, it's remarkable and quite unique. It works on its own terms, and I really like that it's so different. Definitely one of my picks from Jester King.
70 / 100
Tried on-tap at the brewery in the Hill Country outside Austin, TX.
Pours a light golden colour, with a slightly cloudy body of moderated weight. Head is a very minimal ring of almost white that only leaves small specks of lacing. Carbonation is fine but minimal. Looks decent enough.
Nose is surprisingly pleasant and unexpected. Pearskin and peach come through strongly, with a weird rounded sharpness like fermented melon. There's also a touch of complex minerally qualities, all wrapped up with plenty of straight farmhouse funk. I like it a lot.
Palate is light and crisp on entry, but gains a pithy bitterness by the middle, maybe from the herbal tarragon additions. This almost makes it feel slight medicinal. Subtle fruit on the back with some acid from the funk, which also makes it quite dry. Aftertaste has touches of grit and pepper, but it maintains a lightness that stops it from being too much.
Feel is very light. It doesn't add much to the beer overall, but keeps it approachable at the least.
It's light enough and fairly easy to quaff. But for a low ABV, drinkable brew from JK, I'd definitely stick with Le Petit Prince.
74 / 100
Tried on-tap at the brewery outside of Austin, TX. A saison brewed with squash (by which I believe they mean butternut pumpkin), long pepper and sage.
Pours a musty light brown colour, very thick and cloudy with haze. Body is quite lightweight and promotes only a thin ring of head, pale beige in colour with a hint of orange to it. Lace forms in specks, and the carbonation is coarse. It's a bit of an inauspicious start, to be honest.
It's uphill from here though. Pleasant sweetly spicy aromas punctuate the first whiff, and then the warmer roast pumpkin characters come through to create some heady depth. Mild acidity comes through as well, perhaps a touch vinous, and some roasted or cooked herbs. It gives a pleasant sensation of herbal wine, perhaps like white vermouth.
Sharp, clean entry on the palate with some noticeable tartness. The mid-palate is smoother, and richer with flavours of the squash and toasted spices. This leads into a pleasantly smooth back palate with some lingering sweetness. This is balanced somewhat from the fact that the body is still very light—it's not really acidity, but it performs the same function, much in the way carbonation often does.
Feel is light and pleasant.
Overall, after an initial hiccup, this ended up being a pretty fine beer. I liked the way some smoothness and sweetness was incorporated in a way that really nicely balanced with the spices. It's a great aid to a beer like this.
84 / 100
22oz brown bomber purchased from Whole Foods Lamar in Austin, TX. Style on the label is a Saison-Brett Golden Ale. Collaboration between Epic and Crooked Stave.
Pours a clear and indeed quite yellow golden colour, with a small white head that persists as a faint filmy but creamy ring, which even provides a little patchy tight lace. Body is lightweight, which isn't unexpected for a Bretty beer, but is surprising given this beer's weight. Overall, looks pretty good.
Nose is interesting—sharp with a little crushed vegetative character, a little like tomato stems. A little pepper comes through as well, but it's wrapped with some mild fruitiness that gives it a little sweetness. Again, I get a little tomato and maybe a little carrot juice, again accentuating that vegetative quality. It's really very interesting.
Taste is even better. In fact, this is a cracking palate. Here there's a beautifully tempered tartness, giving a direction through the centre of the palate, leaving behind some mild vinous qualities like oak-aged chardonnay. Around this are some of those vegetative characters, leading to a slightly woody, slightly drying finish. Plus there are other overtones: perhaps a touch of pepper, something slightly herbal and aromatic. It's a complex and really quite wonderful combination.
Feel is very light and slick. It helps assist the crispness of the beer, and also masks the alcohol. Nicely done.
Really refreshing, supremely drinkable for what it is, and with wonderful balance. Here, the Brett is used to great advantage, and with purpose, to add that crisp acidity, and lighten the body and drive the beer towards being so easy to drink. It's dangerous but wonderful in equal measure.
(Interesting many-days-after-the-fact fact: this was my 3000th beer review. How time flies...)
77 / 100
On tap at the Union hotel.
Pours very pale, cloudy cider colour. Steady bead is still visible. Head is gorgeously dense, retains too solidly though. Looks unnaturally augmented, would like some gradual sinkage at least. Looks nice though.
Smells saisony. Rich, earthy funk with wet grass, dank blanket and dank memes. Yes, good work, Sam, people will get that reference for years to come. Touch of acid, lots of phenol. Standard saison, but loads of it and totally unpretentious.
Taste is similar. Slight grain undertones, with loads of funk over the top. Horsey, barnyardy. Funky that peaks in the middle and could last longer. Finish is clean which might be crowd pleasing but I just wish it was amped up throughout the whole adventure. Still, good flavoursome saison.
A bit of texture, body is solid. Feels a bit dry and possibly boozey at the back. Don't love it.
Tasty, classic saison. Nothing flashy on there, just solid old world characters.
73 / 100
Pours an amber colour, steady bead. Small white head, just a thin crown, light lacing. Decent saison.
Smells funky but sweet. Light tartness with cherry notes and raspberry. Some mild sweet spice, mild barnyard. Very pleasant but could up the funk a bit.
Taste is more funky. Big rubbery notes and some champagne character with barnyard notes. Fair boozey whack late-mid, and trails off with berry and mild coconut flavour. Bit big, but lots of pleasant saison character. Not too phenolic or strong but a big bold palate overall.
Decent carbonation texture, bit of booze warmth on the mid. Bit too much going on for me but not bad for the style.
Nice big saison; classic flavours dialled up. Pleasant vinous drinking.
69 / 100
On tap at the Quarrymans sometime in December 2014.
Pours a darkish amber colour with some bead, nice residual head of white thin foam. Some decent lacing. Bit dark maybe, and a bit clear but OK.
Smells saisony and rich. Barnyard, organic with wet lucerne and a rich spice note of nutmeg and cinnamon, touch of star anise. Slight rubbery hint but nicely handled; saison with spice notes.
Taste is quite saisony. Barnyard early with organic horsey notes, some spice comes through at the same time. Cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, some mild banana ester and a touch of dried fruit - raisins and currants mainly. Goes well with saisony character. Good blend. Yet nice saison.
Too fizzy, which I feel is an issue with many 4 Pines beers. Body is a bit thin maybe. Texture is there; it's just the wrong kind for the style.
Nice saison; nice Christmas. Pretty nice beer.
On tap at the brewery.
Pours a pale gold, quite opaque but translucent. Head is decent when poured; sinks to a ring of small white bubbles. Not much lace. Looks OK.
Smells like rubber. This is not a bad thing. Big organic rubber note with some farmhouse characters and yet a light elderflower note as well. Still predominantly rubbery. Floral but rubbery. Enjoyable.
Taste is saisony upfront, gets very rubbery towards the back. It's still not a bad thing but this time it's a bit too much. Saisony notes are there: lucerne, horse blanket characters, notes of soil and fresh cut grass, and maybe a touch of lemon. Finish is very rubbery, kind of cleans up the freshness in a way that isn't welcome. Could retain more of the more fresh notes late and that'd be great.
Decent body, but a bit too much fizz. Think the ABV could be upped a bit to provide more body. Just a bit.
Good amount of saison characters but leans on the wrong ones in a way that makes them a bit unbalanced.
69 / 100
Pours a pale yellow colour, lots of sediment. Cloudy throughout. Small white bubbly head. Sinks very slowly; not bad.
Smells wheaty; fruity. Nice tangy hops, some guava, kiwi and passionfruit in there. Citrus, a touch of medicine on the back. Pretty decent drop.
Taste is more weizeny. Notes of banana upfront with some cherry-tinged phenols on the back, giving a slight root beer note. Some fruit and spice notes on the back - apple, pear and pepper with a whisper of fennel. Light; fairly refreshing; bit too much spicy potency though, a bit unbalanced.
Fairly light and insubstantial but some decent bitty texture. OK for style.
Nice summery drop, could have dialled up the fruity esters a bit and gotten some more quenching character.
77 / 100
On tap at the brewery.
Pours a lovely red-tinged amber colour, steady bead. Head is white, small bubbles retaining a thin crown very nicely. Odd colour, but very appealing and intriguing.
Smells saisony. Funky, with barnyard, rubber and lucerne. Up close there's a fruity twang to it; raspberry and a faint twinge of coconut. Very pleasant and great saisony nose.
Taste is funky and saisony from the get go. Touch of acid on there with fresh citrus zest. Notes of raspberry, passionfruit and vanilla. Finishes quite phenolic, bitter but funky. Tasty.
A bit sharp, lots of carbonation for a bit too much texture. Finishes very dry.
More of a bière de garde maybe, but an intriguinng fruit note provides a smooth balance to an otherwise excellent Belgian flavour.
750ml green bottle purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney.
Pours a massively effervescent pale straw, with massive numbers of carbonation streams racing through the light body. Head is crackly and very full, fed by those relentless bubbles. At 3.8%, it's unsurprising that it's light-bodied, but even so when tilting the beer looks like it moves in fast motion.
Nose is great. Peppery and green, with a lot of pleasant, fragrant herbal characters to it. I get a little crushed lime leaf, green pickled peppercorns, Granny Smith apple and a touch of dried oregano. Carbonation is noticeable too, with a mild carbonic acid quality in the edges. Nice stuff.
Taste is much lighter in terms of complexity. But it has only a short period to work with, so it's understandable. Light crisp entry gives a suggestion of acidity and a little aspirin bitterness, which develops to a vague phenolic character on the back—almost a little rubbery or chlorine like. It's the only unpleasant note, though. The rest is light and quaffable, if a little bloating from all the carbonation.
Feel is certainly hindered a little by the excessive bubbling—it makes it prickly, while also lessening the drinkability a little as well.
But I love that La Sirène is getting a lower ABV beer in this style out there. This is a very worthy beer, and most certainly worth trying. I guess I'm a little disappointing it didn't hit all of its notes just right—I have an image in my head of how good a sessionable beer this could be, and that would have been truly phenomenal.
A "Corn, Guava + Lime Lambic Saison" according to the bottle. I do wish Red Duck would stop trying to reclaim the word "lambic" to mean anything with Brett. lambicus in it, but whatever. 500ml brown bottle purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney.
Pours a rather dark, amber-orange colour. Quite clear with a rocky, very coarse, aerated head that eventually just puffs itself out and only remains as a tingle of carbonation around the edge of the glass. Body is fairly heavy, although the flighty carbonation streams persistently through it.
Nose is quite interesting. Certainly some funky, weirdly acidic characters come through, but it's hard to separate what comes from the yeast and what comes from the lime. There's certainly a citric quality to the brew, but with a very generic Brett note that leaves it feeling a bit flat and overly earthy. Otherwise it has some leafy notes, and perhaps a suggestion of tropical sweetness from the guava—I may just be expecting it. Some unusual notes at least—I'm not sure how they'll all work together though.
And to answer that, on the palate: not that well. There's a thickness to the beer, a sweetness that seems to permeate everything, and it links just slightly with the lingering guava note to make it seem like the fruit is sitting in a big clump on the palate. And from that basis, the other notes seem cacophonic. There is a thin acidity throughout leaving a reedy bite through the centre. This mingles with a very bitter herbal character that leaves it feeling like you're not just getting the flavour of lime, you're chewing on great clumps of the white pith as well. I genuinely don't like it very much.
I guess I should give my standard Red Duck disclaimer on this one. I really love that Scott and his crew bring out so many beers in a year. And they're always interesting, if not—as in this case—always successful. My interest will always be piqued by a lineup of Red Duck beers in a bottle store fridge, and I'll continue to try them out. But this one's certainly a miss for me—and not a beer I'll be buying again.
87 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne. Pours a light and hazy orange-yellow colour, with a huge and boisterous head of fluffy white. Lacing is complex and confusing. Refined fine bubbling of carbonation through the body. Looks lively; a great look for a saison.
Smell is exquisite. Lots of white wine cork, crushed lemon myrtle, slight vegetative funk and a crisp acidity. A little deeper, there's a rough meatiness to it as well, adding a round Belgian yeast note to the already pungent characters. What a ripe and raucous Saison aroma.
Taste is clear and biting, with a crisp savoury note through the centre that blossoms into a lingering and freshly smooth bitterness on the back. Minimal acidity, but there's lots of organics - big crushed vegetation characters, a woody earthiness lending a slight almond flavour midway through and a crispness on the palate which excites the taste buds. It's a fabulous saison.
An exceptional drop of beer, and a fantastic example of the style. The complexity and the subtlety work beautifully in tandem to make this exciting and drinkable in equal proportions. Ah, no one beats the Belgians at a good saison. And this isn't just good - it's magnificent.
80 / 100
12oz squat brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars and shared with Sam.
Pours initially very clear and pale golden, but about a third of the way from the bottom of the bottle is Sediment City, so the beer ends up with a fine hazing all the way through. Head forms a rambunctious crest of frothy white, that ends up settling out to a persistent centimetre or so. No lacing but lots of fine vibrant carbonation. Looks good.
Nose is excellent. Crisp, lemon and seltzer brightness, with a touch of deeper vegetative funk. There's a smooth, slightly buttery note underneath, giving a hint of curd-like sweetness and creaminess which wonderfully balances it all. I like it a lot.
Taste is a lot lighter, but still extremely well-balanced and very drinkable. Light, slightly still entry with hints of lemon curd, backed by a brighter bust of pepper. Smooth mid-palate stops it from going flat, but the back is punctuated by a pleasant mild vegetative bitterness, which makes the finish very refreshing.
Feel is light but smooth, never feeling overly thin or too effervescent.
Cracking. I really like it. It's so clean, drinkable and refreshing, and for a sessionable ABV has a good deal of complexity and interest. Another fine beer from Prairie.
375ml dark green bottle purchased from Barny's in Alexandria.
Pours like it says on the bottle, a deep, blooded hazy red colour, with a very full and frothy head of off-white, almost tinged with pale orange. Body is light, almost thin in its fluidity. Carbonation is also quite fast. It looks quite vivacious.
Nose is pleasant enough, without really grabbing my attention. There's a nice mild saison funk to it, with a good dose of black pepper. But there's a sweetness and thickness suggested by the malt character, which is certainly more present than in their regular saison. It's an interesting twist, but I'm not sure one that does it any favours over the original.
Taste follows a similar path, but with a diversion of fruit that I didn't expect from the nose. Here, there's a fragrant sweetness, almost like hibiscus or karkadeh, that's actually a nice addition to the palette of flavours. Otherwise, there are some nice mildly floral characters bringing some more aromatics like a true saison, and some deeper, maltier notes that still, I'll admit, feels a little out of place. Carbonation is very high, which gives an unpleasant bite on the palate.
Overall, it's a decent brew, but were it not for that mild floral character it would almost certainly seem like a fairly pointless beer. It feels something like the less attractive sibling of La Sirène's regular saison for the most part, but there's just enough lurking under the surface to pique my interest nonetheless.
57 / 100
Pale champagne colour, fair sediment in there. Head is off-white, small crown of loosely packed bubbles. Nice lace is nice. Decent beer is decent.
Smells a little odd. Grainy at first, but then gets a strong caramel note with a touch of corn, then a bit of earthy funk and maybe even some smoke. Not rich and complex, though. It's light, but definitely a fair bit going on.
Tastes decides on somewhat funky. Sadly it's yeasty, more than anything: has a strong bread yeast note with a touch of pull. Some lactic acid to it, again a touch of corn and maybe a slight lemony edge to the finish. Light, somewhat refreshing but certainly other characters could have been accentuated to prevent the yeasty stronghold.
Bit of bacterial pull in the mouth, actually feels quite lively. Is otherwise fairly flat.
Decent enough as a cleanser, but just doesn't have a lot of character.
77 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased from the brewery in Bermondsey earlier in the year, and I hadn't got around to drinking it yet, so thought I'd crack it open to cleanse after drinking a bottle of Tactical Nuclear Penguin with Sam and Rich.
Pours a pleasing mildly hazed, but stable pale yellow, with a fine ring of white as a crest. Some mild lacing, but mostly the foam seems quite light. Carbonation is beautifully fine, holding steady when tilted despite the fact that the body is quite light.
Nose is a pleasant, with a mild sweet tartness like lemon curd, mingled with a more organic, rustic grain character. Light carbonic character comes through as well, giving it a kind of soda bite. Mostly, though, it's very clean and bright. I like it.
Taste is very similar, but it's very much designed to be a drinkin' beer, clearly. Light, slightly bitter acidity, a touch of grapefruit and lemon pith, with a very light body. Carbonation is fine, but it does have a seltzer like quality to the flavour that adds to the suggestion of spritz. The back has more mild citrus characters and a very clean finish. It's really very nice.
Feel is good. Light in the body, but with a fine carbonation to keep it elevated.
Overall, a very drinkable beer indeed. I split this bottle three ways, but that's really not the way to do it. This is the sort of beer that's easily drinkable by the pint, and I can imagine nothing better than having a free-flowing font of this on a warm summer's day.
75 / 100
Vibrant orange colour, with slight cloud. Head is foamy, off-white, gorgeous lacing. Great retention. Looks fab.
Smells funky, earthy. Lots of savoury notes with a touch of tangy fruit - clementine and pear, lots of spice, barnyard funk. Yum. Plenty going on here.
Taste is a bit disappointing. Just doesn't burst with flavour like the aroma predicted. Notes of citrus pith, some earthy barnyard funk, peppery spice. More bitter, spicy, organic and lacks the pop of freshness. Somewhat tannic, too. Feels like it needs an orange character. It's just subdued behind a bit of organic funk. Nicely balanced, though I guess.
Lots of texture, body goes down easily so though there's an edge here and there it feels pleasant.
Could definitely be drunk all night. Feel it falls short of true greatness in terms of flavour, but bags of pleasant character still remains.
Pours a pale golden colour with white rim of small bubbles. Small lace but not too sticky. A bit dull-looking.
Smells sweet with big honey notes but blending with a nice belt of earthy funk. Touch of spice, bit of rubber and wattle as well. Vanilla as well. Impressed; I get something new each time.
Taste is very funky and phenolic. Huge rubber note with astringent pepper, barnyard and some odd tangy notes on top giving raspberries and cream, even. At the same time it's quite bottom heavy with a touch of booze to it. Fermented simple sugar finishes it off, sadly. There are lovely flavours in there but it doesn't finish with them. Decent overall.
Swills with a slight bitty texture. Slight pull on the back.
Nice saison notes, but tastes a wee bit unhinged at times.
73 / 100
Pale straw with a light haze; thin white head. Not bad.
Smells orangey with big note of funk. Touch of dusty pepper as well. Earthy; spicy, citric. Pleasant.
Taste is OK, lots of orange and fair funk. Spicy pepper, touch of lucerne and fair citric character. Not a huge saison; orange tempers it a lot in a good way. Excellent gateway saison.
Fizzy feel; decent texture. Not much else.
Nice saison with a twist.
72 / 100
750ml corked and capped green bottle purchased from Ales Unlimited in San Francisco. Brought back to Sydney and shared with Sam on a brew day, coincidentally, right after Halloween, which seemed appropriate.
Pours a hazy coppery golden colour, with a very fine and firm head of off-white, that sits as a pleasantly thick film across the top, even in the humidity of an early Sydney summer. Lacing is great as well, forming in wide but intricate streaks. Body is very solid, and holds nice powdery carbonation. Overall, it's a good looking beer.
Nose is mild, but pleasant. I wasn't actually convinced that this beer had pumpkin in it, but there's definitely a rather vegetative sweetness to the nose that could well be pumpkin. It's balanced by the classic clean and slightly funky Fantôme saison acidity and a slightly rubbery tone. The sweetness tends to win out though, and leaves a rather full-bodied aroma. I like it.
Taste is definitely drier, and slightly more phenolic, with a definite rubbery character running through the mid-palate. There is some fruitiness around the edges, and a full-bodied feel that allows some of the other complexities to come through. There's definitely some of the classic Fantôme saison characters, but softened and perhaps dampened somewhat by the vegetative sweetness. It's not bad, but the aroma was better.
Feel is good—there's a thickness to it that really supports the characters, and yet the suggestion of acidity stops it from feeling too heavy.
Overall, it's really very drinkable, and another example of how Fantôme do such a good job of playing within one particular style. I'm still not convinced this actually has pumpkin in it, but in any case, they do a good job of invoking some of that type of character within the confines of their classic saison structure.
Pours a nice rich red colour, somewhat cloudy. Head is nice and dense, settled out to a thin film. Swill revives it well; looks good, and nice lace. I like it a lot.
Smells weizeny. Good amount of banana ester on there, with some medicinal notes, and sweet spice - vanilla, clove, maybe a touch of cardamom astringency. Slight fruit, mostly desserty sweetness. Bit pedestrian, but nice.
Taste is a bit more spice-forward. Notes of pepper come through strongly, mixing with that clove and cinnamon character. Backbone is banana, seems to be heading to nice, sweet back palate but it has a twist too much spice, and gets somewhat astringent to cut the fruit esters short. Kind of aniseedy and a touch of fenugreek. Green, herbal at times too. Good weizeny character, touch of medicine, but leans a little too heavily on some and leaves me wanting more sweetness.
Nice body, dries up a bit at the end but leaves a bitty texture. Booze is not detectable.
Very weizenbocky. Bit sharp on the finish, but nice complexity. Almost a total winner for me, but some noticeable flaws.
69 / 100
12oz brown bottle purchased from Ledgers Liquors in Berkeley, CA. This is another in the three-way collaborations that Stone does so well. This one with two particularly fine other breweries. Shared this bottle with Sam and Rich during a Jabberwock brewday.
Pours a pleasing deep brown—still with a little clarity in the thinner parts of the glass, but deep with colour elsewhere. Head is a bit flimsy, forming a moderate head of pale beige that leaves only a few specs of lacing as it goes. Body is quite light, which is not unexpected. Looks nice.
Nose is quite pleasantly smoked, in a dry, free kind of way. There's a hint of charred wood to it, a little like an open fire on a clear night. But there's other qualities to it—a pleasant yeast tone suggests its genesis as a saison, and even adds a little stonefruit. It's rather pleasant all up.
Taste is initially quite smoky and a little bitter—with the smoke and the roast it almost comes across as ashy. This is subdued quite quickly however by a pleasant upkick from the yeast which lends a little fruity note and even a suggestion of tartness. The back is still quite bitter, but the fruitiness turns slightly medicinal, giving it a flavour like children's Panadol. This lingers a little on the back, almost with an astringency given the lingering smoke as well. It's certainly very interesting.
Feel is light but clinging. Not bad at all.
Overall, this is interesting stuff. And I guess you'd want something interesting from these three breweries coming together, but it's not a beer that really surprised me. I guess what would have been truly unexpected would have been a Stone / Stillwater / Evil Twin Light Lager. And I'm glad we have this beer instead.
78 / 100
750ml brown wax-capped bottle purchased from Healthy Spirits in San Francisco. Brought back to Sydney, where I cracked it open with Sam. Unfortunately, it uncaps with a mighty froth, gushing over the table until saved by a convenient glass.
Eventually, it does settle down, leaving a beer in the glass that's a cloudy dull orange hue, with a big crackling head of off-white that leaves messes of loose lace around the outside of the glass. Body is light, particularly for 8% ABV. Looks good though apart from that uncapping.
Nose is very pleasant. Initial fresh semi-sour saison characters dissipate quickly, leaving behind a refined, dusty sort of aroma with overtones of clipped grass and lucerne. Slightly herbal or peppery notes come through as well along with something sweeter, almost a hint of pineapple, as it warms up a little. Very nice stuff.
Taste is also good. Refined, but dry saison, with a little bit of yeast-driven tartness, some dusty funk and a pleasant aspirin-like aridity towards the back. There are a few interesting notes around the back of the palate, light touches of herbs and pepper, but not much of that suggested fruit from the nose. Overall though, it's very pleasant—the dryness makes it feel rather champagne-like. Feel also helps in this respect, giving it a nice crispness with the carbonation, while remaining light and dry.
Overall, this is a very nice beer. Indeed, it might be my favourite from the Logsdon stables. Although I'm not sure the oak comes through all that much, there's a refinement to this beer that makes it seem perhaps better than its non-oaked counterpart.
750ml swing-top brown bottle purchased from Ales Unlimited in San Francisco. Muled back to Sydney where I cracked it open on a brewday with the Jabberwock brewing crew.
Pours a deep, reddish amber hue, with a fine, but somewhat insubstantial head of just off-white. Body has a little bit of weight to it, but it stays pretty fluid. Lacing forms in nice sticky, complex streaks. Carbonation is very low. Looks pretty decent all up.
Nose is actually a little muted. Some mild malt with a slight clean overtone of something green and vegetative. There's also a slightly loamy earth character as well, which is quite pleasant. But there's clearly not much of those big bright saison characters that so enamoured me of Fanôme's original beers. Overall, it ends up a little bit underwhelming for what it is.
Palate is quite interesting. It's more malty than many of Fantôme's regular saisons, and it has a depth of sweetness that is a little unusual. But it's balanced with a very fine and rather pleasant Asian pepper character through the mid- to back-palate. The finish has a slight kick of something grassy or vegetative, which is just enough to clean it up. It's rather pleasant.
Feel definitely seems a little heavy. It's a bit like they have really over-accentuated the malt over ever aspect.
Overall, in the scheme of things I'm disappointed. I feel like it's one of the weaker entries from Fantôme, who are usually the benefactors of superb beers. There are some interesting things to it, but it's much the lesser of their regular saison, for interest, and at something like triple the price, I'm left a little bemused.
86 / 100
Tried on-tap at the Great Australasian Beer SpecTapular in Melbourne.
Pours a very pale yellow colour with solid hazing throughout. Body is very light and fluid. Head is a fine, solid crest of purest white that leaves some solid, sheeting lacing. Lots of fine, refined carbonation too. Looks very good.
Nose is great. Funky and organic and raw. Slight peppery characters like crushed leaves and the suggestion of menthol. Underneath this though is a smoothness that manages to tie it all together. Lovely stuff.
Light, pithy entry on the palate that gives up some fragrant Brett characters and the suggestion of cherry. Smooth and clean through the centre, it allows a crispness and orange citric note to finish it off. Afterpalate is smooth and complex. Grassiness, organic but mild acidity and plenty of funk. Lovely stuff.
Feel is incredibly smooth for all of this, and the carbonation is wonderfully restrained.
Overall, this was a cracking beer. It relies on subtlety and complexity rather than out-and-out flavour, but it really did bring the business to the festival. This was my #2 pick of the 100+ beers I tried there.
Tried on-tap at the Quarrymans in Pyrmont. This version is apparently 10% ABV, although it appear the beer fluctuates from batch to batch.
Pours a hazy Turkish-delight colour, slightly red-brown with a fizzy head of pale bubbles. Body is wickedly light for 10% ABV although the carbonation is fine. Overall though, it's hard to deny it looks a little bit like a soft drink.
Nose is quite pleasant. There's a touch of acidity and a sweet tartness like karkadeh with some rounded cherry characters adding a slight headiness. There's a pronounced banana stink coming through too, a little like jelly candy, and a touch of breadiness as it warms. The saison nuances are lost, in any case.
Taste is heavy with that banana character—almost steamrolling everything else. This is quickly followed by a great deal of bitter, astringent booze: stinky permanent marker, banana lollies and dirt. There's no acidity here, despite the aroma. Feel is tight and astringent, but really quite light in weight throughout.
Nope, sorry guys. This is a rare miss for Bacchus. At 10% it's way over the top and almost undrinkable. The idea is sound though—seriously, make it 5% and get some of the booze under control and this would probably be a refreshing little drop.
71 / 100
375ml green bottle, as is La Sirène's wont. Purchased from Barny's Fine Wines & Ales in Alexandria.
Uncaps with an almighty hiss that immediately gave me the adrenaline rush of a potential gusher. Fortunately, that doesn't happen, but it does form a massive head despite a delicate pour down the side of the glass. Body is a fine, cloudy yellow-golden with lots of streaming carbonation through it. The head is frothy and crackling initially, but this settles out to a slight foamy mess after a few minutes. Looks pretty good—certainly as alive as La Sirène often is.
Nose had lots of hay and dry grain characters, laced with a weird perfumey sweetness—possibly honey or elderflower. It gives it a slightly organic edge that's quite different from the standard funky organics you can get in a saison. Very bright and aromatic, and a pleasing twist on their standard saison.
Taste is also pretty good: light and fragrant for the most part, but with the organics lending a slight astringency towards the back, and a weird metallic character around the edges of the palate. Back is frothy with carbonation, which masks a lot of the aftertaste, but there is a fair bit of that astringency sitting around. Feel is frothy for the most part, and very highly carbonated.
Overall, though, this is yet another very interesting beer from La Sirène, who are one of the more interesting breweries in Australia right now, even though (or perhaps because) they focus on one particular style. I'm always pleased to drink more of them.
61 / 100
From a squealer purchased from the brewery by Sam, who shared it with me. Brewed with peppercorns and rye.
Pours a dusky golden hue with a minimal, thin head of white that sits in a tiny ring around the edge of the glass. Body is fairly light and mild, with some fine carbonation running through it. Head retention is minimal, as is the lacing. Looks pretty standard, but not bad.
Nose is slightly gritty and grainy, with a bit of earthy funk and a suggestion of dried apricots. On the back is something a little floral as well. Not much hint of the pepper. There's some interest there, but overall it's not something that has really gripped me by the balls from first try.
Taste is a little better. Here there's a slightly clean acidity towards the back, giving a lightness and bite that counterbalances some of the earthiness. Some very faint zestiness runs through the centre of the palate as well—which is another good balance because the body feels a little dank and grainy. Overall, it's not bad.
Feel is mild, but with a bit of weight through the centre.
Overall, it's a pretty drinkable brew. As the first beer I've had from a new brewery, it's a little underwhelming, but it's a solid enough Saison.
76 / 100
750ml brown corked and caged bottle purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA. Brought back to Sydney where I cracked it with Sam and Chris during a brewday.
Pours a bright yellow-golden colour, with solid hazing and a crackling, aerated head that foams itself out of existence pretty quickly. A fine mesh of white lace lingers atop the glass. Body is light and fluid. Carbonation is fine. Looks pretty good overall.
Nose is clean and bright, with some crisp funk that doesn't really get earthy or horsey. Some peach character comes through with a sweetness that reminds me a little of clipped grass. High carbonation is also noticeable here until it runs out of steam. Overall, it's a very pleasant nose though.
Taste is clean and bright, but certainly sweeter than many saisons. The peach character again runs through from middle to back, giving a slightly jammy character on the finish. Beyond this is a hint of pepper, and on the front is the earthiness of the funk that never really expressed itself fully on the palate. Alcohol is very well hidden—American saisons can often feel a little blunt, which allows the booze to show a little more, but there's none of that here.
Feel is great. Smooth but bright.
Overall, this is a really drinkable, and very enjoyable saison. There's a cleanness to the funk, and a smoothness from the additional sweetness. The peach character is what sets it apart, and it's a fine character for a saison. Very nice indeed.
76 / 100
750ml brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Brought back to Sydney and shared with Sam.
Pours a hazy golden colour, with a firm froth of white that stays persistently even as it gets pocked with larger and larger bubbles. Lace forms cottony patterns down the inside of the glass. Body is a bit light, but with this style of beer that's not necessarily all that unnatural. Looks pretty good.
Nose is quite funky right of the bat, almost heading towards funky, plasticky, crushed vegetation and lambic-style bite. There's some citric tones though as well, giving a slight zesty, peppery aroma to the mix. In the sinuses the funk almost turns to tomato-plant-crush in its sharpness. I like it a lot.
Taste is also good, but a lot thinner in the body than it could be, so the flavours don't express themselves with the complexity the might otherwise have done. Clean, sharp, slightly metallic bite on the front, with a lingering bitter character that runs through the centre. This gives it a rather vinous brut champagne note towards the back, especially with the carbonation. Light, metallic and somewhat medicinal in the finish. Feel is dry and sparkling, just like a very dry champagne.
Overall, it's an impressive beer, although exceedingly dry. As long as you're along for the ride and accept that the super-sec character is going to drive it, there's an awful lot to enjoy about it.
75 / 100
375ml caged and corked bottle purchased somewhere in Massachusetts by my mum, shared with Sam in Sydney.
Pours a pleasingly hazed yellow colour with a massively frothy, coarse-bubbled and rocky head of white that crackles and aerates its way down to nothing. Carbonation is also fairly coarse, and a little bit sparse. Body is fairly light. Looks pretty good overall though.
Nose is also pleasant. Some stonefruit and banana characters with a hint of something sharper: perhaps some dry-hopping. Really very rounded with some deep sweetness to it. It's very nice.
Taste is a little bit stranger. Here there is a pronounced wheatiness, which stretches the palate a little, adding some acidity and a slight metallic character. Under this is the sweetness and the banana fruitiness from the nose, which creates quite a broad basis. Slight pepper on the finish almost turns slightly medicinal—along with the mild tartness it gives even a suggestion of cherries.
Feel is silky and fairly broad, despite feeling as though it's rather light.
Overall, I liked it a lot. It was full-flavoured with some complexity and interest. A bit more sharpness would really complete the package—some spice or pepper through the centre of the palate would be a great addition. But even as it is it's pretty tasty.
Tried on-tap at GABS 2014 in Melbourne. This was a collaboration between Thunder Road and Yoshi Kurasawa, a cocktail expert from Tokyo, and infused with Japanese botanicals.
Pours a very, very pale lemon colour with a tinge of green to it. Very clear and light in the body. Head is firm, forming a solid white crest above the beer that leaves a little streaky lace. Looks okay, but very, very light.
Initially, this had a big thunk of yeasty dankness, but once the botanicals get going there are things to enjoy in it. Sharp greenery and a suggestion of citrus. It grew on my after a while, but the initial impression wasn't good.
Light, clean entry on the palate lends itself to an almost lemonade sweetness through the centre. Brightness from the botanicals and the greenery lifts it so it doesn't get bogged down. Finish is zesty and dry, with a very clean, very light aftertaste. It's pretty decent by the end.
Eventually, I liked it, although there were a few wobbles along the way. While I had a couple of questions, I think eventually in answered them and we got a decent beer out of it. Not bad at all.
92 / 100
750ml green bottle capped and corked as is the Fantôme way. Purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA and shared with Sam back in Sydney.
Pours a wonderfully clear and bright pale straw colour, almost like a fine pilsener. Head forms a fairly coarse-bubbled, but substantial and frothy head of pure white that settles out to a persistent half-centimetre of foam. Lacing is great. Body looks fairly light, but it has a hidden weight to it that forces some fairly languid carbonation. Looks really very good indeed.
Nose is wonderful. Bright, gripping funk that's clean and green, giving a crispness and vitality to the beer. There's a slight organic character to it that comes through, with a bit more earthiness and a sense of weird aromatics. It's mostly just bright and very clean—a really lovely aroma.
Taste is also extremely clean and bright, with a moderated funk that lends a crispness and a touch of acidity. Then all of a sudden, the green organic note evokes a hint of smokiness which is completely unexpected, but with the crispness of the body, and the mild acidity works really well. Finish is minerally and bright, with an almost salty accent to really clean things up. Quite remarkable stuff.
Feel is light and crisp throughout, with a slight frothiness that expresses some of the more delicate flavours.
Overall, this is gorgeous stuff, getting towards Fantôme at the top of their game. And with a brewery this good, their top game is fairly spectacular.
69 / 100
Even Red Duck can't decide what this is. The call it a Red Saison / Japanese Brown Ale, made with dark malts, red, black and white rice, oats, wattleseed and Nori seaweed and fermented with a sake yeast. Yeah, this sounds like one of Scott's ideas. Tried on-tap at GABS 2014 in Melbourne.
Pours a deep, turbid brown with very solid hazing. Body has a bit of heft and weight behind it, and holds fine carbonation when tilted. Head is beige in colour, and leaves bits of broken ringing lace as it goes down. Looks good overall.
Nose is initially toasty, with a bit of cherry coming through and a nutty quality that seems to get mixed up in the funk. As it warms, sharper characters of anise and ink come through as well. It's certainly unusual.
Light toasty entry on the palate, with a smooth middle section that releases some rounded Belgian tones and a little grassy funk, possibly from the rice and sake yeast. Back is very light with a bit of buttery smoothness that turns into a light nutty character in the aftertaste. Feel is smooth but with a generous amount of carbonation.
Overall, this is a good beer. It's not necessarily outside the general oeuvre of Red Duck, but that's a pretty broad space to work in.
75 / 100
A musk saison brewed for GABS 2014 in Melbourne, which is where I sampled it on tap.
Pours a pale straw colour, very solidly hazed with a pretty light body. Head forms a very fine, firm ring of white that leaves a little patchy lace. Looks decent enough.
Very herbal and spicy on the nose with a definitely pronounced musk character coming through pretty strongly. Alongside this are complexities of crushed rosemary and a little Vietnamese pepper. Very nice.
Definite musk on the palate, light and fragrant and sweet-spicy. Clean and light through the centre with the saison character giving a light dry back. Lingering fragrance of musk mingles with a residual sweetness that evanesces on the finish—the beer still feels quite light towards the back but the aromatics keep it tasty.
I was quite surprised with this beer overall. The musk and herbal aromatics work really quite well with the saison character. It's certainly an unusual beer, but one that I really took to.
78 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2014 in Melbourne. This was billed as a Barrel-aged Brett Blood Orange Saison.
Pours a very pale orange golden colour with some hazing. Body is pretty light, especially for the ABV. Head forms a firm ring of white that leaves a little minor lacing. Carbonation is fine but fast when the glass is tilted. Looks good.
Light fragrant tones on the nose develop into full-blown bretted oak-barrels. Pepper and spice mingle with acidity and wood and a bright, light astringency. Yep, it pretty much delivers what you expect.
Light acid on the front of the palate, moving into a rather earthy, dusty tone much like a bière de garde. Sharpness and spice and more earthy funk towards the back along with a long, flat bitterness. More lingering earth in the aftertaste. Feel is pretty light, but suitable for the style.
Very solid drop and really nice to drink. A very pleasant brett-heavy barrel-aged brew that draws favourable comparisons to Jolly Pumpkin, in my mind. Keep doing what you're doing, HopDog boys.
57 / 100
From a 16oz can, purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Brought back to Sydney and shared with Sam & Rich.
Pours a creamy, solid, hazy straw colour, with a coarse-bubbled, but extremely persistent head of white that leaves some faint streaks of fine lace. Body is light, but fluid and holds some fine carbonation. Looks pretty good.
Nose is lovely. Bright lemon sherbet sweetness, Belgian yeast funkiness, and a pleasant peppery note. Acidity is clean and bright. It's very aromatic and very well-integrated. I like it a lot.
Taste is most certainly disappointing after the aroma. Definite yeasty, bready characters come through, without any sense of bright acidity. Instead, it's slightly flat and floury, with a long, drawn-out watery weakness towards the finish. Really low on flavour and complexity. I'm extremely unimpressed—the aroma was so good, the palate was so not.
Feel is smooth and long. It would really work if there were more flavours to expose, but it feels a bit of a waste here.
Overall, wow—this is surely a disappointment. The aroma is so good, and it has so much potential. But at the end of the day, it really ends up pretty mundane and not that interesting. It's such a shame.
Tried on-tap at the brewery on the Bermondsey Beer Mile. This beer was apparently different again from their bottled "Bière de Table - Oak Aged Saison". This brewery has too many different beers... Wait, I don't mean that.
Pours a pale gold like fake jewelery. Very clear in the body and very light in weight. Head is a fine white, eggy mess, turning filmy at the edges. Lace forms in rings. Lots of coarse carbonation. Looks pretty decent.
Nice tartness on the nose. Apples come through along with a touch of grain, some lemon and sour worms candy. Vinous characters are also noticeable—there's the oak which gives a woody chardonnay note and a tartness like Sauvignon Blanc. Nice.
Zesty entry on the palate with an aspirin zing and green vinous characters. It's a bit down from here though as the body evaporates, and leaves behind a slight yoghurty lacto character. Sweeter notes on the finish: chalky candy hearts and light oaky wine.
Feel is very light. It's okay—it helps the drinkability but diminishes the potential complexity.
Very light and fairly easy to drink. The aspirin character bites and gets a bit tiresome after a while, otherwise though it's pretty good.
Tried on-tap at Partizan Brewing in Bermondsey while doing the Bermondsey Beer Mile.
Pours a pale lemon-yellow/straw colour with solid hazing. Head is white with a yellow tinge, forming a ring of fine bubbles as a head. Patchy but sticky lace forms. Body is fairly fluid, but solid, and holds very fine carbonation. Looks good.
Slightly funky notes on the nose, sweet lemongrass coming through as well above a beer basis that's more grassy and green. Rounded yeast and a bit of weird corny sweetness. It's solidly weighted at least.
Rounded Belgian notes on the front palate, turning smooth and slightly buttery. Light candy characters like Redskins lollies. Lemongrass on the back with some bright spice and a lingering sweetness. Aftertaste is a little watery. It's pleasant and light at least.
Feel is a little bit weak, but with length to it.
Very drinkable overall—it's smooth and light, and some of the weakness actually aids the drinkability of the brew overall. Fairly nice all up.
12oz brown bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a very clear golden yellow colour, with a very light and airy body. Head forms a fine brilliant white, but settles out to little more than a minimal ring. Lacing forms spot and nothing more. The colour is nice, but otherwise it looks like a fairly forgettable beer.
Nose is clean and bright, but reliant on a spice addition that a really classic saison would not. It smells a little like pot-pourri, with a slight twinge towards more zesty citrus. It's not unpleasant, but it's also quite clearly not like a regular saison. Peppery and fake.
Taste is similar or slightly worse. Here there's a genuine lagery character to it: like what you get with a hint too much sugar in the mash—it's both too sweet and too light. There's a noticeable spice character that comes through, but it really doesn't feel much like the yeast is making itself felt. Back is a little harsh, despite the fact it's only 6% ABV.
Feel is heavy. It really has that over-drawn thickness that is acceptable in a big hoppy ale like Stone does so well—but in a delicate beer like this, it just doesn't work.
Nup. It's okay, but only okay. Stone are good craftsmen—they have the skill to get the fundamentals right—but there's absolutely no art to the beer, and this is a style that demands it. It's a weak, disappointing echo of a great style, and there are far better examples out there for you to find.
47 / 100
33cl brown bottle purchased from Domus Birrae in Rome.
Pours a very hazed, fairly dark golden colour, murky and still in the body. Head forms a very coarse-bubbled crest of whitethat settles out to some filmy pocked bubbles. Lacing forms patchily. It doesn't look all that great. Acceptable though.
Nose is fairly muted, but it has some rounded Belgian tones at least. Slight herbal qualities come through a little, and a suggestion of peppery spice. But there's not a lot to it overall, and to be honest, I'm a little unenthused.
Taste is also uninspiring. Spicy, peppery notes on the mid palate give some bitterness, and a rather harsh, medicinal herbal character sticks around to propagate this bitterness right to the end. Body is very light, with no trace of that rounded sweetness the yeast suggested on the nose. Overall, it's a bit dead, and a little difficult to drink.
Overall, this is a disappointing effort from Extraomnes, who generally do good things. This is a lethargic attempt at a saison, that only really barely scrapes over the genre line.
80 / 100
Tried on-tap at Open Baladin in Rome.
Pours a lovely burnished, bright golden colour. Haze is solid in the rounded, light but hefty body. Head forms a frothy creasy of white, but persists well, leaving streaks of solid lace. Looks good.
Nose is great. Spicy and bright initially, with peppery, earthy undertones to it. Hints of ester notes from the yeast come through along with some banana/clove phenols. Clean and grassy all up, but with some rounded sweetness as well. Very good.
Taste is also very good indeed. Sweet and spicy, clean but bright, and filled with classic farmhouse characters. Spicy, pepper and a noticeable dash of grains of paradise. Slight rosewater notes, earthiness and herbal undertones. Despite all this, it's not terribly funky or organic: it just uses the style and additions to its advantage.
Biting finish gives it more organic notes, but it's smooth in the feel—the sweetness holds it together but the spice breaks out and punches through with its intensity. It's a nice combination. The feel is slightly prickly from the spice characters.
Superbly drinkable stuff—it's really very drinkable indeed, and really genuinely well-crafted. It's a saison near the top of its game, with so many of the characters that make a saison such an amazing style of beer. I love it.
33cl brown bottle purchased from Cave à Bulles in Paris. A collaboration with Jester King, and a somewhat counterpart to Jester King's Petit Prince. Drunk at my hotel in Amboise in the Loire Valley.
Pours a very hazy blonde colour, with a hint of pink to it. Head forms a frothy, insubstantial mass that settles out to some fine-bubbled lacing. Body is very light, not unexpectedly. Looks pretty good though.
Nose is really very pleasant, if quite restrained and light. Pleasant yeasty characters of dry cider, a little pepper and dust, and some other restrained fruit characters. There's not a lot going on, but it gives the sense of a very refreshing beer.
And refreshing indeed it is. Clear, light palate of mild fruity tones balanced by a slight earthy bitterness that gives a little fruit skin and herbs. Peppery tones finish it off, with that earthiness still forming the bulk of the beer. Again, it's limited in what it can achieve at only 2.9% ABV, but it still does pretty well for what it's got.
Very drinkable, quaffable, indeed a table beer, but a good one—one I perhaps wish I had two or three bottles of in front of me instead of the one.
75 / 100
33cl brown bottle purchased from Cave à Bulles in Paris.
Pours a bright, slightly hazed golden colour with a bit of orange in its depths. Head forms a solid fine film that leaves great, intricate lace. Body is quite fine but light, and holds powdery carbonation. Looks good.
Nose is dirty, earthy and vegetative: exactly the sort of robust characters you get from slamming a beer with stacks of European hops, and I love it. Freshly snapped celery, wet soil, mushroom mold, with a lilting fragrance from the yeast that makes it a bit sweeter and fruitier. Great stuff.
Taste starts out very clean, but the hop characters here almost come out harsh. Strong tobacco ash bitterness on the mid-palate along with vegetative or bitter herbal notes. Luckily, these clear up towards the back with a fragrant buoyant yeast tone to provide and end to the ash character. The bitterness continues, but it's fortunately very clean by the end, leaving a lingering resinous character that builds up the more you drink.
Feel is light and very clean. It makes it very, very easy to drink.
Don't think I'm slamming the characters on the palate: this is just the sort of bitterness I'm not used to, but it most certainly has its merits, and it's certainly the type of thing I think I could grow to love. Right now, an overhopping with these earthier hops seems like an acquired taste that I don't have, but give me a few more of this beer and I'll probably be extolling its virtues until the end of time.
76 / 100
750ml green bottle purchased from Cave à Bulles in Paris. Simon, the owner of Cave à Bulles is also involved in the brewing of this beer. My bottle says 5.5% ABV, but he said that that's a misprint, and it's actually only 5%.
Pours a clear and vibrant golden colour, with a frothy, firm head of white. Lacing is superb, leaving lovely messy streaks and pattern down the glass. Carbonation is very fine, and although there's a lightness to the body, the bubbles linger when tilted. Looks very nice. Very refined and sophisticated.
Nose is great. Big on both the funk and the hops. Initial whiff gives huge, pungent, almost gueuze-like funkiness and a little light-struck skunk from the green bottle (which I'll admit actually doesn't hurt this beer). A little sulphur comes through, but it works in with the funk nicely. But as well as all of this rustic organicness, you have the hops, which are bright and powerful. Mosaic, Aramis and Simcoe are used in this, and I think the Aramis is most noticeable, giving a clean, slightly herbal but fresh green character to the beer. It works well with the funky saison base, giving it a brightness to complement the earthiness of the yeast. Great stuff.
Taste is much, much more simple, which is a shame, but it's perhaps only disappointing because the nose was so good. Clean entry with a thin lagery-grain character like a southern German pils. The hops come through fairly well, giving a crispness to the backbone of the beer. Funk is much more subdued, and the body is very light, meaning that that rich, earthy character is very much curtailed here. Bitterness is restrained throughout, but persists longer than the rest of the flavours, meaning it has quite a bite of hops in the aftertaste.
Feel is crisp and light. It makes it extremely drinkable, even as many of the contrasting flavours seek to overwhelm the senses.
This is great stuff. It's extremely interesting, which always gets me, and it's a lovely weaving together of hops and funk. The aroma is magnificent, which makes everything else seem a little pale by comparison, but altogether it's really wonderful stuff.
62 / 100
330ml brown bottle purchased from Oak Barrel in Sydney.
Pours a faintly hazed bright golden colour, with twinges of orange at the deeper portions of the glass. Head forms solidly, creating a coarse, but persistent head of white. Carbonation is minimal. Body is light. Looks decent enough.
Nose is quite pleasant: initially, a sweet vegetative character comes through, almost giving a gueuze-like funk, but this disappears quickly, leaving a more rugged earthy tone to the aroma. As it warms, it becomes a bit simpler and more subtle but still very pleasant.
Taste is also decent, but missing some of the refinement that made the aroma so good. Slight herbal tones of rosemary and pine come through, but the basis is a rather flat sweetness with some granary overtones. Light yeast characters give it a zest at the end, but it also feels a little bit thin. It's a shame: while it's certainly drinkable, the aroma was suggestive of something much better.
Certainly drinkable, and enjoyable to a good degree, but there were hints it was going to be a lot better than it ultimately ended up. Still worth trying, but it could have been much more.
Cheers to @headlessclown for sharing this one. Drunk with him and @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a dirty dark brown colour, very hazed, but turning to a dark red when held to the light. Head is very fizzy, and forms a large crest that runs out of puff and leaves a slight foamy film. Lacing forms in large, indulgent streaks. Looks decent enough.
Nose is certainly dark, leavened with funky, bretty characters that leave it somewhere between liquorice and fairy floss. Some vegetative, herbal characters come through too, like fresh mint and crushed leaves. I don't get much in the way of actual acidity, but it's a nice melange even so.
Taste has the acidity a little more: leaving a metallic twang throughout. The toasty roast character comes through pleasantly, but with the coppery note it almost tastes meaty and bloody like a rare steak. Body is very light, meaning it leaves very little on the back palate. Some peppery and spritz is the only thing to provide some punctuation on the back.
Overall, it has some strange parts to it, some of which work, and some of which don't. I'm not quite sure it's as good as many of Fantôme's other offerings, but it's an interesting diversion.
81 / 100
750ml caged and corked bottle purchased in California, and brought back to Sydney, where I shared it with Rich and Sam.
Pours a bright golden colour with a hazy, solid body. Head is a creamy white, creating a full and frothy crest that's quite gorgeous. Lacing forms in streaky patterns down the glass. Light carbonation forms when tilted. Looks good.
Earthy basis on the nose, sprinkled with lemony hops trending towards a noble overtone: slightly herbal. Some clean acid comes through, sharper notes like fizzing aspirin and round mulchy hay. Very solid and big. Great stuff.
Taste is wonderful. Light, clean, zesty entry with characters of apricot and peach coming through, before the middle smooths out beautifully. Here there's a rounded complexity, green herbal tones, a touch of buttery sweetness cleaned up by a clean acidity. Finish has pepper and spice, a little funk-like acidity, green tomatoes, more apricot. It's just fresh and delicious, with an afterpalate that lingers for a long time.
Feel is bright and buoyant. A wonderful counterpart to the flavours.
This is a superb saison in any case: the hops just raise it to the level where it's genuinely exciting. It's a gorgeous beer.
3 / 100
(Bottom of the Barrel)
This was a collaboration between The Monk and Restaurant Amuse in Perth, brewed for and served at the Beer Mimics Food event at Sydney Craft Beer Week. This was a somewhat ill-advised Kim Chi saison, Kim Chi being a Korean dish of fermented cabbage in a spicy chilli paste.
Pours a burnt yellow colour, solidly hazed but light in the body. Head is a bubbly ring of white that stays rather thin across the top of the glass. Looks okay, no better though.
And from here, it's all downhill. Nose is, quite honestly, revolting. Sauerkraut, stewed pongy cabbage rotting sweetness. It smells like a rubbish bin. Worse: it smells like a rubbish bin that's been sitting in the hot sun for a while. Awful.
Taste is just as bad. Fermented garbage water, slightly salty, more of that pongy off cabbage. There's a bit of spiciness on the back, but you can't bear waiting for it to arrive though. Aftertaste is raw and foul.
I don't care. I want not to put it in my mouth any more. This was a big, misguided failure as far as I was concerned. No beer should taste like this. Kim Chi doesn't taste like this. This was quite seriously undrinkable. A woefully awry experiment.
Barrel-aged farmhouse ale brewed (or at least, barrel-aged) for GABS Festival in Melbourne, May 2013. Tried there on tap.
Pours a brown colour; far more brown/dark than it should be. Cream-coloured head, webbed lace that doesn't stick around. A bit still.
Smells nice: definite vinous notes with some aspects of barnyard, horse blanket and a belt of oak for good measure. Smells like funky grape juice. Pleasant.
Taste is a disappointment. French oak notes with a slight shiraz character, but also plenty of malt that doesn't really fit in. Definitely lacking on the farmhouse notes, just a touch of barnyard character creeping into the back. Maybe the French oak strangled it all but ultimately it tastes more malty than anything else. Underwhelming.
No trace of carbonation and luckily the alcohol doesn't show through. Body is OK, bit bitty as you'd expect.
Bit of shiraz notes, but leaves me wanting on the farmhouse side.
60 / 100
Pours a champagne colour, slightly cloudy with small crown of white foam. Not bad; could be even cloudier and I'd be OK with that.
Smells funky, with some horse blanket a touch of wet lucerne, some apple/pear fruity notes and a slight phenolic character. For the ostensible style, could be fresher. But not bad.
Taste is quite dry, and earthy. Buttery notes with a touch of French chardonnay oak, some moist lucerne and dry grass clippings, plus a decent belt of earthy barnyard funk. Again, I'm sort of missing the fresher, summery notes. It's a decent saison but no cigar in terms of the 'summer' factor.
Mouthfeel is OK - moderate body with slight carbonation.
Tastes like a very standard beer fermented with saison yeast. Not bad, but nothing special and I'm just failing to see the summery twist.
Pours a champagne/saffron kind of colour, huge haze throughout. Head is foamy, off-white, decent retention. Pretty nice-looking saison.
Smells saisony. Lots of funk with barnyard, horse characters and a touch of cedar wood. Some dry chardonnay-oak characters with a touch of rubber on the back. Savoury, funky, good.
Lots of rubber on the palate as well. That vinous character continues with chardonnay oak and some dry champagne notes. Lots of barnyard funk throughout but particularly on the back - funky, a little bit off, but fresh and pleasant. Not much peach which is a shame but it's a very decent saison.
Mouthfeel is surprisingly full, quite bitty from all the cloudy suspension. Not bad.
Tastes a little like an aged riesling, but plenty of decent beery saison characters as well. Nice.
Pale champagne colour, cloudy with floaties. Head is foamy, white and like an obliging madam - reassuring and sexy. Looks good.
Smells tart and funky. Citric, acidic with a decent, earthy barnyard funk. Touch of caramel vanilla in there, and green apple. Funky, but inviting, like a lonely John Travolta c. 1978.
Taste is buttery, funky. Lots of Chardonnay oak with that smooth buttery flavour that gets a little sweet at the back. Notes of horse blanket, damp basement and some mild peppery dry spice. That buttery oak is a little strong; could use more tartness in the back (not just funk) to freshen it up.
Bit of pull from yeasts, but also a little fizzy. Not enough body to carry it off.
Nice enough, but leans quite heavily on some strong flavours which end up subjugating the overall drinkability.
Pours a gold colour, clear, with light bead. Head is lovely, generous with good fluffy density, clumpy lace. Looks great.
Smells pleasant: fairly fresh. Light grain and distinct fruity hop - citrus, pineapple, pear. Could use more edge, all very light and airy and a little lacking in substance.
Taste has more edge. Very hoppy from the start, resiny and woody with at times a chemically dank bitterness. Some lemon pith, roasted coriander seed, wattle and soil notes. Decent flavours, but very one-sided, some more sweetness or just grain upfront wouldn't go amiss.
Quite nice mouthfeel, actually. Bit of pull from the yeast, but it fills out the mouth nicely. Could use a bit more substance from this body in flavour form.
Nice-tasting beer, but not amazing drinking.
73 / 100
330ml bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with Sam and Rich in Sydney.
Pours a quite cloudy dusty yellow colour with a slightly foamy head of white. This settles to a decent centimetre of persistent head. Carbonation is powdery, and roils and froths in the body when swirled or tilted. Lacing is good, forming slick streaks. Overall, it looks pretty good.
Nose is dusty and minerally, with a slight earthiness and a green vegetative note. Some pepper and an aroma like old orange peel. It's a bit light on, but it's relatively pleasant and captures some good Saison qualities.
Taste is much better, with a fullness in the body, and a fruity vegetative character like green capsicum and celery leaf. The yeast lends peppery tones to the beer while a wheatiness lends some mild fine acidity underneath. There's a clinging plasticky tone on the finish which is almost like the opening aroma of a lambic, but it also suggests a bit of alcohol heat. Feel is quite smooth for the most part, with a crispness on the back to complement the heat that arises.
Overall, very drinkable, with complexity and a good deal of sophistication. There are a few oddities, but they seem well-placed to create interest. I did enjoy this a lot.
69 / 100
750ml caged and corked bottle purchased from Healthy Spirits in San Francisco. Shared in Sydney with Sam and Rich.
Pours a bright, slightly hazed, but extremely pale yellow colour, only a notch above a witbier. Head is a fine but relatively persistent film of white. Some spotty lacing forms on the glass. Carbonation is extremely fine but a little listless. Looks pretty good overall though.
Nose is bright with fresh crisp vegetative characters and classic saison notes, and undertoned slightly by a very earthy, almost savoury character. There's a straight yeastiness to it which gives it a bit more of a meaty tone than I'd really like, but it's all wrapped up in the same package so perhaps it can be forgiven somewhat. Some oak comes through a little, but so does a slight oxidative character. It's okay all up, but it should be better.
Taste is much cleaner though, and indeed a great deal tarter than I expected. Pronounced, slightly metallic sharpness through the centre of the palate that drags along some classic Bretted characters with it. Bitterness on the back is noticeable: with the Brett it gives it a slightly harsh, somewhat medicinal flavour—something like unripe peachskin and aspirin. It makes it feel a little more like an acquired taste: something perhaps I'll come back to and enjoy more the second time.
Feel is clean and bright, but a touch watery.
Pretty drinkable for all of this though, and there's something that enamours me of the whole more than the individual parts suggest. I think I've enjoyed Prairie's other beers more than this one, but when this is the low point, you're on to a good thing.
81 / 100
12oz bottle purchased from Whole Foods in Los Altos, CA. Brought to Sydney and shared with Sam and Rich.
Pours lovely and clear yellow, with a rocky, frothy head of pure white that leaves chunks of lace behind. Body is light and fresh. Clarity is surprisingly good: there's a slight haze to it, but it's much clearer than I expect for a Saison. That's actually no bad thing. Fine carbonation. Overall, it looks really good.
Nose is bright and clean, with a fresh green hoppiness that reminds me of New Zealand hops: crisp and very slightly herbal. Under it is a slight earthiness from the saison yeast, along with a touch of something savoury.
Taste is lovely. The saison body gives it a pleasant smoothness along with some floral rosewater characteristics, while the hops give flavour through the centre and towards the back without providing an overt bitterness. Slight frothiness in the feel lightens everything and helps accentuate some of the faint sweet floral characters and hop notes.
Overall, this is really gorgeous stuff, although why I'm still surprised that Another Beer From Prairie Is Gorgeous I don't really know. This is the third or fourth of theirs I've tried, and they just have such a knack for providing beautifully subdued complexity and wonderful drinkability to their beers. Top notch.
88 / 100
750ml caged and corked bottle purchased from Whole Foods SoMa in San Francisco. Brought back to Sydney and shared with Rich and Sam.
Pours a solidly hazed bright yellow with a full and frothy head of white that leaves rich sudsy lace. Body is quite light, but pleasant, holding its fine carbonation well enough. Colour is so consistent: it looks really very good.
Nose is wonderful. Big, fresh funk and acidity, with a crisp citrus character coming through and some brighter coconut characters. Slight solvent character comes through giving a hint of putty or plastic—it sharpens the olfactory nerves, which makes me more receptive to the other characters. Indeed, it at once smells rustic and dry, and humid and tropical. It's quite an amazing aroma.
Taste is smooth and fresh, with some vegetative crispness around the edges which gives it a container for the slightly funky tones which play around on the mid-palate. Peppery tones move in towards the back, but there's a slick citrus to counterbalance it, leaving the back supremely refreshing and bright. Awesome.
Feel is smooth but bright, with a lightness to the body accentuated by some supple, fine carbonation.
This is an absolutely cracking Saison. This is superbly made stuff that shows its craft and skill throughout. It's so well integrated, but with such lovely characters dancing around to explore. And it's so fresh, bright and wonderfully drinkable. Stunning stuff.
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.
76 / 100
Pours a pink-tinged amber. Head is white, nice and foamy, great lace. Looks good; colour's a bit vague though.
Smells hoppy. Citric, zesty, fairly tart actually and a little wild. Bretty, barnyardy, hints of spice. Some currant notes and cinnamon. Sweet, touch of sour. Nice.
Tastes earthy, funky, spicy. Lots of star anise, pepper, a bit of barnyard, lemon zest, clove and a decent vanilla-tinged malt base. Pleasant, bit phenolic and a bit tangy. Nice.
Foamy, decent body. Nice texture but a bit of a pull.
Drinks quite nicely, fair freshness and zest balanced with a good earthiness. This is clever brewing, and a very nice introduction to the world of Oklahoma beer. Brew on, Sooner State.
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.
72 / 100
12oz short brown bottle purchased from Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley, CA. Shared with Rich in Sydney.
Pours a bright, clear yellow colour, with a full, persistent and rather rich head of white that stays around for quite some time. Lacing forms in large dots, quite persistently. Body is pleasingly fluid, but holds fine carbonation well. Looks good.
Nose is bright with crisp fruit of peaches and pears, and a slightly woody vinous character like oaky chardonnay. Some of the earthy, saison tones come through as well giving a slightly organic aroma with more wood and smooth sweet herbs. It's all quite rounded and well-integrated, making it seem very refined. Good stuff.
Taste is also quite refined and well integrated. Here, however, it makes the flavours seem slightly flatter: the fragrant, earthier notes are gone, leaving it smooth and drinkable, but leaving much less complexity. Some crispness on the back helps the palate from sip to sip: cleaning out the back from some of the rounder sweeter notes on the front.
Feel is good. Clean and light, but with a slight crispness towards the back.
Overall, this is a very well made saison with some classic characters wrapped into a very neat and coherent package. It perhaps doesn't have some of the most fragrant, flavoursome or intense characters that you can get from the style, but it's very solidly done—one of the better "classic" saisons I've had from the US.
750ml brown bottle purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA. Shared with @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a clear, extremely pale yellow with a fine and relatively steady head of white. Lacing is messy and streaky. Fine carbonation, although the body looks rather thin, so it doesn't stick around much.
Nose is indeed white vinous, and I can believe viognier, with a clean crisp acid coming through strongly. Some slightly earthy characters come through as well, more like oak though than botrytis. Dusty, dry and quite crisp throughout. It's a very well put-together aroma.
Taste is lighter, and without much acid, which is a bit of a shame. In fact, the back palate doesn't have much of anything, besides a musty grapeskin character and a hint of metal. Most of the roundness comes on the front, with a slightly fruity Belgian pale sort of basis that sets sweetness against the very light and rather dry body. It's a little bit disappointing after the aroma.
Overall, it's pretty decent, and the 9% is masterfully hidden at least. It promised a bit more than it delivered though, and it ended up being less exciting than I thought it might be. Lower your expectations, and you'll probably have a great time with it.
62 / 100
Had on tap at the brasserie on Rue St Denis.
Pour a weird red colour, clear. Head is white, pretty creamy, but sinks quickly. Lace is sticky and nice. OK, but weird colour.
Smells fairly Belgian. Quite phenolic with deep malts. Touch of grass, herbs, vanilla. Lacking in classic saison notes, but pleasant enough.
Tastes quite malty with mediciney notes along the palate. Gets some mild barnyard funk midway along with dry peppery spice to finish. Not hugely saisony, and quite rich and malty. Very much biere de gardey rather than saison. Decent palate though.
Body is OK, a bit of texture to it.
Some more fresh notes would be good, but overall it drinks OK.
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.
59 / 100
On tap at Vices & Versa.
Pours a pale straw colour with mild haze. Bubbly white head decent retention, with foamy lace. Steady bead. Bit pale, but decent.
Smells slightly rustic but mostly vinous. Touch of Chardonnay oak, dried grass and rosemary. Bit simple, but decent enough characters.
Taste is funky, barnyardy upfront. Develops vinous grape notes midway, slightly tart, then a bitter but also slightly yeasty and almost chalky finish. Still retains some funk, but doesn't quite burst with fresh flavours. Alright.
Bit of sizzle, OK body but not great.
Seems a little like a homebrew saison, with a saison yeast strain and not much else crafting wise. Drinkable enough.
71 / 100
Strangely sized 300ml brown bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne. Appears to be bottle-conditioned, but I left the sediment in the bottle for the pour.
Clear champagne golden colour on the pour, with a massively frothy, possibly over-carbonated head of white that stays frothy for a very long time. Carbonation is certainly streaming and abundant, although the body has a bit of heft, meaning the carbonation is slightly more languid. Once the head has run itself out there's some patchy, sudsy lace. Looks pretty good.
Nose is rounded and slightly funky. I get some olive juice, a slight biting pepper and fresh over-ripe watermelon. There's also a slight fishy character, mingled with a sweetness like clear apple juice. There's also a yeastiness at it's core, not just providing some of those classic Belgian rounded characters, but also bringing a slight dryness and an earthy charm. It's interesting, and mostly quite pleasant.
Taste is cleaner and crisper than I expected on the front, although strangely enough, those Belgian esters and a full sweetness comes through late on the palate, bringing with it a touch of savoury cracker saltiness. There's a slight phenol bit through the centre of the palate, conjuring those peppery notes on the nose, but not quite reaching them. It has some length, which is unexpectedly compelling.
It is perhaps a tad over-carbonated, as expected from the appearance, leaving the mouthfeel a little bit fluffier and woolly than it could have been.
Overall, though, this is pretty good stuff. I'm actually not familiar with the particular flavours of the old Red Bush tea, but I'm putting down this beer's little eccentricities to this addition. Otherwise, it's a pretty solid Saison, which picks up a lot of character from the yeast. As a result, I'm pretty happy with it.
59 / 100
They call this a "Eurasian summer saison", brewed with Chinese green tea, lemon grass and Sorachi Ace. Tried on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne.
Pours a deep golden colour with some haze in the body. Decent weight behind it, especially for its low ABV. Head is a solid frosted cap of off-white that leaves sheeting lace. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is slightly musty and mushroomy. Some earthy characters and a bit of spice, but very little attributable to the ingredients they mention. Overall, as well, it's pretty light meaning that it's less interesting than it could be.
Sweet entry on the palate, with very little weight and a pleasant cleanness. Slightly plasticky from then on, though—some cloying artificial character becoming actually sweet and brittle like crispy toffee towards the back. Some drying earthy characters on the back maybe do something to bring it back towards saison territory, but the finish ends up weak, with a flavour like plaster.
Feel is light but buoyant. Not bad.
Overall, it is drinkable enough, but it doesn't do enough, or else it takes the flavours in weird directions that don't necessarily work. It's also not really much of a saison at its heart. It should have been better.
This was a version of SBB's regular Petit Tronc saison that had been matured on peaches. I heard a rumour that Southern Bay's original beer for GABS had not worked out, so they just threw this together with some Petit Tronc they already had sitting around. But it was just a rumour. Tried on-tap at GABS 2013 in Melbourne.
Pours an orange-tinted yellow with solid hazing. Body is solid enough for its 6.6% weight. Head is a fine white, full, but filmy crest that leaves lacing in minimal streaks down the glass. Looks decent.
Sharp metallic characters on the nose, slightly yeasty and intense, with some overlaid characters of fruit skin. From here comes a hint of funk and acidity that works brashly against the metallic character. The fruit character is more apricot than peach to me. Some saltiness comes through as well. Not bad.
Spicy and plastic on the front-palate, before the sharp fruit comes through mid palate with a slightly unsavoury over-ripe, rotting, fermenting character. Most everything drops out on the back, leaving it light and quite crisp, with some lingering fruit, and a strange metallic aftertaste.
Feel is light, but rounded.
Overall, yeah, it's interesting enough. Not bad, but also weak in some places. Although I've Le Petit Tronc before, I don't really remember it (and didn't review it), but I'd like to see how the peach version compares.
82 / 100
250ml bottle purchased from Red Bottle Alexandria in Sydney.
Pours a pleasant burnished golden colour, with some flecks of disturbed sediment. Head is a moderate, fine white, which sits as a solid ring and bubbly film atop the glass. Carbonation is lively, forming in rapid streams through the glass. Looks good.
Nose is extremely pleasant: dusty and earthy, with a rugged wholesomeness. This is contrasted with a pleasant lemon and pepper spice character which provides life to the earthiness. Some floral notes come through as well, and the piquant spicy characters take on a crushed herbal aroma as it goes on. Overall, it's a really lovely aroma.
Taste is also very good. It has a solid basis of malt, with a creamy honey tone underneath. This is bolstered by a savoury, earthy flavour from the yeast, which morphs into a respectable drying, vegetative character towards the back. Everything is extremely smooth, though: the characters transition seamlessly into one another, and the back fades with a supple, haunting delicacy into the finish. This is a really excellent Saison.
Feel is gorgeous, smooth but light, supporting those silky transitions from flavour to flavour.
Wow. This is fantastic stuff. Smooth, clean, drinkable, approachable, but with loads of flavour. The craft is deeply apparent here: there's no harshness, no imbalance, no awkward flavours to detract from the whole. This is just plain good stuff.
78 / 100
Bottle purchased from Whole Foods Soma in San Francisco.
Pours a dull yellow colour, extremely hazed with decent weight and fine carbonation to the body. Head is a solid meringue of white, with some lemon tinged colouring to it. Overall, it looks very solid.
Earthy, aromatic characters on the nose. A touch of sulphur, some mushroom, along with sharped characters of sawn wood and resin. It's very pleasant.
Light, earthy entry again: mushroom, soil, but clean and brusque. Smooth mid-palate, with a clean, velvety character through the centre and some estery notes from the yeast. Finish is extremely smooth and supple.
Feel is amazing. Soft, smooth and light. Delicate but structural. Lovely.
Overall, this is a really gorgeous beer. Smooth, lovely and amazingly drinkable. It's velvety, it's caressing, it's calming. Wonderful stuff.
72 / 100
Tried at Kumo Izakaya in Melbourne during GBW2013 as part of the Herkimer/Kumo Beer and Sake evening. This beer is a "Cöttbusser", an old German style brewed with oats and honey, and fermented with Belgian Saison yeast (although I assume traditionally it was not brewed this way).
Pours a very clear golden colour with a very fine white head. Some streaking lace gives it an undoubtedly German appearance. Fine carbonation. Overall, it looks pretty good.
Nose is disappointingly mild. A bit of grain and some faint, slightly carbonic acid to it: direct and sharp. There's a slightly briny suggestion of seafood and some apple characters as well. But these are looking for ripples in a pretty banal surface. Mostly, it's just clean and flat.
Taste is much better, though. There's a faint prickle of acidity to kick things off before some robust German grain notes give some body and power to the mid-palate. Crisp and bright towards the finish and a little bit fuller towards the back than I expected. I like it: you can almost taste the booze and it makes it feel like a broader, more expressive beer as a result.
Feel is very clean and pleasant. Nice stuff.
Overall, I really like it. It's clean and well made, with German influences but a rugged individualism.
Pours a golden colour, clear, light bead. Head is lovely, generous with good fluffy density, clumpy lace. looks great.
Smells pleasant, fairly fresh. Light grain and distinct fruity notes - citrus, pineapple, pear. Could use more edge, particularly on the funky side. Seems a bit light and airy.
Taste has more edge. Very hoppy from the start, resiny and woody with at times a chemically dank bitterness. Some lemon pith, roasted coriander seed, wattle and soil notes. Decent flavours but a bit one-sided, some more sweetness is needed here or just more malt upfront.
Quite a nice texture actually. Bit of pull from the yeast, but it fills out the mouth nicely. Shame there's not such a malt presence in the flavour.
Tastes nice, but it's not an amazing drinker. Just pleasant.
69 / 100
Pours a bronze colour, slight cloud. Head is white, bit thin but lacing is nice. Looks alright.
Smells saisony and nice. Funky, but sweet, with brown sugar on there, notes of cherry, horse blanket and even salt. Very intriguing, but highly pleasant as well.
Taste is a little bit disappointing. Tastes quite yeasty for the most part with notes of tart, vinous characters upfront and some cherry on the back, with champagne and some of that brown sugar note. Very decent saison, with a bit of richness to it as well. Could use maybe more full flavour, and a bit more balance away from the yeast.
Bit of sizzle, but nicely padded by the body.
Fruity notes on an otherwise standard saison. Not bad at all.
69 / 100
Pours a vibrant red colour, cloudy but bright. Beige head, dense and thick, good retention. Lacing is decent.
Smells odd. Very sweet, with poached apple, cherry notes and merlot. Hint of barnyard funk on the midpoint. Otherwise, sweet.
Taste is more fruity again, with cherry, blackberry and some hints of peach. slightly dark, and mildly funky on the back with light phenolic notes. Coffee on here as well, otherwise all dark fruits and tart. The sourness comes as a bit of a surprise, but it's a welcome one.
Smooth enough, bit of fizz, bit dry, but alright.
Weird beer, no doubt. But balanced enough to be enjoyed.
50 / 100
Pours a shiny gold colour with no head. Thin film around the edge with dense bubbles. Decent lace. Not bad, but not great.
Smells sweet, honey and nutty. Lots of almondy notes. Sweet predominantly with hints of Belgian phenols on the back. Marzipan, pecan and peanut. I'm definitely missing the funk here.
Wow, world of difference on the palate. So sour. A lot better, and yet still a bit simple and underdeveloped. Peanut notes, some chestnut, with tart vinegar character and some lemon/apple cider notes. Not particularly interesting, just tastes a little unnuanced to me.
Tart mouthfeel with pull from the yeast. A bit dry and acidic, but not bad.
Maybe it was a mistake following Logsdon's excellent Seizoen with this, as this just doesn't taste right to me. Tartness is there but there doesn't seem to be much else.
Pale gold colour, thin head. Lace is OK. Yeah, looks OK
Smells sweet. Honey with some rubbery notes; quite unpleasant. Royal jelly and wax notes on there. Nothing else to it, really. Meh.
Tastes like honey. Sweet, cloying honey. Lots of cereal, light, sweet, mild. Also unpleasant, it tastes like soft drink, in the sense that it's just sweetness with fizz. Some cloying yeast on the back. Yuck.
Not a bad body, actually. Bit squishy on the back.
Brewers, the equation is simple: don't put honey in beer. I'll say it again: don't put honey in beer. It will either ferment out the uncomplex sugars and taste ethanoic, or it will just taste. like. honey.
Far be it from me to tell you how to run your businesses, but if you put honey into your beer you will get a bad review from me. Not out of spite, but because I won't like it.
81 / 100
Pours a dark, dark shiraz colour. Off-white head is thin, but with decent lace. Not bad.
Smells just lovely; tartness, bit of funk and a bit of chocolate sweetness. Touch of lychee and plenty of berry. Just gorgeous. I'm loath to grant the taphouse staff a perfect score but dayum!
Taste is saisony, a bit dark. Lots of berry, raspberry and strawberry. Apple as well. Touch of cinnamon. Pepper, some roasty chocolate. Touch of citric hop as well. Oh yeah this is some beer. The bridge rd saison strain comes through all the hop notes, and darkness exists in beautiful conplementary balance. Yum. This is the best beer I've had since my last Bridge Rd beer.*
Bit of pull on the mouthfeel. Verges on sharp. Not bad texture though.
Lovely style-bender. Bits of everything in there but none of the junk. Great brew.
* The Aurora Borealis, about half an hour before this.
48 / 100
12oz bottle purchased from Berkeley Bowl West in Berkeley, CA.
Pours a hazed yellow-gold colour, with a frothy head of white that stays around quite persistently with large-bubbled foam. Lacing is patchy, but decent where it forms. Body is light, with the haze giving it a suggestion that it's thicker than it is. Overall, it looks pretty decent.
Nose is earthy and rustic, ostensibly, but picks up a big vulcanised rubber character which gives it a pungent overtone that's not altogether pleasant. Under this are sub-characters of honey, wheat germ and a little lemon. There are some characteristic earthy, funky and slightly sweaty tones, but they're not altogether there as a whole package.
Taste is similar, or worse. Things start out ok, with a mild, slightly peppery tone above some neutral malt, but this devolves rapidly into a big upswell of bread-yeast and white corn flavours. These overpower the beer, leaving a powdery dryness in the mouth, and providing an unappetising residual character on the palate. After a while, they get muted a little bit (or I just get used to them), meaning some other flavours come through: oddly I get lavender and cork. It's just not very appealing, although the bizarreness has some esoteric appeal.
Feel is light and prickly.
Overall, I can't really endorse this: I find it either unpleasant or weird, and certainly not a good Saison. The characters are off-kilter, the flavour is unpleasant and the aroma is disconcerting at least. At least it's interesting.
330ml bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a cloudy dull orange colour, with a mild head of white that eventuates in a mild ring and very solid lacing. Body has some weight behind it and it holds some large-bubbled carbonation when tilted. Overall, it looks pretty decent. Perfectly serviceable in any case.
Nose is powerful: lemony, green, almost skunky in places. It's quite fresh and bright: I wonder if that's truly due to the yeast though, or if this has been heavily late hopped as well. It seems like a shame to mask the yeast characters if so, but if not, this yeast is providing a really exceptional ride. As it settles, there's a danker character like wet cardboard, but it stays still fresh and bright above this. It's a lovely aroma.
Taste is a lot drier, with a clinging lemon bitterness towards the back, and a slightly organic funk that holds on to the finish. But yeah, boy is it dry. It clings with bitterness around the edge of a hollow tunnel, and the yeast tries vainly to provide much structure other than that the hops provide. But then, it's probably the yeast which has made this beer so dry.
Feel is also extremely light. I imagine the FG on this one is very low indeed.
Overall, there's some interest here, and the nose is really excellent, although I don't believe the base beer here is a really good way to show off the yeast. I'll reserve my judgement on the choice overall until I've tried a couple more, but in this one the yeast just makes for a very dry beer whose subtleties are lost amongst the hops.
500ml bottle purchased from Whole Foods, Los Altos, CA.
Pours a faintly hazed golden yellow colour, with a foamy but light head of white. Carbonation is strong and persistent, forming constant streams up the inside of the glass. Very light body, minimal lace. Overall, it looks pretty generic: indeed you'd be forgiven for mistaking this for a bland lager. Not that that's so bad in appearance.
Nose starts off with some spice: a little peppery with a note of crushed grass. Later, as it warms, and as it's swirled, there's a duskier character: some Belgian yeast characters, a dusty earth aroma, and some seedy, vegetative notes. It's actually rather pleasant, if a little light.
Taste is clean and crisp, with a light spice giving some dusky peppery notes on the front. This develops into a spicy, phenolic and slightly over-bitter character on the back, as it mingles from some of the esters and phenols from the yeast. The yeast itself owns the finish, with a combination of sharp phenols and rounded smoothness. The sharpness actually starts to build up after a while, meaning that it's more biting than it needs to be, and it ends up being the dominant character.
Feel is light and crisp, but with that roundness from the yeast in the flavour, which helps make it feel smoother.
Overall, it's quite pleasant, but with some detractions. I think it's a reasonably well-made saison, but it's a style that seems easy to do "reasonably well", and extremely difficult to do "extremely well". So this is probably only so good.
Pours a pale golden colour, slight cloud. Head is white and fluffy. Lace is fairly sparse, but still looks nice.
Smells spicy, with wildish barnyard characters. Slight cherry back note, with pepper, a touch of vanilla and almond meal. Phenolic tartness on the back. Decent but standard.
Taste is big and saisony. Odd sort of funk throughout, with tangy peach overtones, crisp apple and mediciney, cherry-cola notes. Red pepper, capsicum and beetroot, even. A little too phenolic on the back for my liking, but nice natural flavours and esters coming through.
Fluid body, with a bit of texture. Not bad.
Decent, but quite phenolic saison. Very Belgian in style.
90 / 100
Pours a pale golden colour with a slight cloud. Head is off-white, light specks of lace but big, fluffy, generous look otherwise. Great.
Smells saisony, but sweet. Cinnamon toast with notes of quince, peach and raspberry. Horsey funk as well, oxidised vinegar, but all very well balanced to entice and uplift. A treat.
Taste starts off quite tarts, and gets even more so. Vinous with champagney notes, lemon curd, raspberry vinegar and of course that organic barnyard funk. Light spice notes, peach fruit and even guava. Vanilla comes through on the back, providing some sweetness late. Lovely mix, really as though it were deliberately and cleverly thrown together, but still with a rough, untamed edge.
A bit of pull on the mouthfeel but it works well. Nice and dry on the finish which helps to counteract that late sweetness.
Clever beer. All the right funky notes but patched up in all its oddities to make it refreshing and supremely drinkable. A memorable drinking experience.
88 / 100
Orangey cloudy appearance, head is dense, just a thin crown but loads of lacing left behind wherever it's been. Looks nice.
Smells funky, but so inviting. She's fresh (exciting). Peach, nectar, green apple, some nutmeg and cinnamon. Yeah, slight tartness to balance out an otherwise sweet and lovely aroma.
Taste is also sweet and spicy. Cinnamon with sultanas, cake batter upfront, then green apples and barnyard funk come through with a touch of coriander, grains of paradise and balsamic. Ends with this sweet, yet phenolic flavour in perfect harmony with the other components. Yum.
Foams a little in the mouth. A bit sharp, but drinks well.
A cracking saison. Funky, refreshing, sublimely complex and yet so much finesse. We have here an absolute weiner.
81 / 100
Pours a deep golden colour, still but massive, and celestially beautiful head - off-white, fluffy, serene. Just impeccable look.
Smells lovely too. Funky, but fresh with apricot, lemongrass and pepper at the back. Slight vinous bordering on white wine vinegar, just a touch of acidity. Beautiful.
Taste is vinous upfront, bit of oaky chardonnay that develops malty sweetness with a touch of fennel, clove and overcooked sweet pastry. Nice crispness at the back, just a whisper of tart on an otherwise funky palate. Bit metallic as well? Very nice, anyway.
Bit of sizzle on the mouthfeel but not harsh. Works quite nicely with the body.
Lovely saisony notes. Fresh, complex and enjoyable.
61 / 100
The beer pours a dark brown colour. Head is over-generous but beautiful, sinking slowly to form a marshmallowy lump on the top - lacing left behind is gorgeous, beige and sticky. Looks fantastic.
Smells strongly funky, with a rich, comforting dark roastiness. Strong star anise notes as well, a touch of nutmeg and maybe some fennel. Spice has a slight sour note to it, and could use maybe some more sweetness on the nose. Just a tad overdone on the spice to make it keel off-balance.
Taste is slightly more in balance. Roastiness underlies it all, slight char note with light coffee grounds. Spice is there too - anise, clove and some pepper. Still has that slight sour, raw spice kind of flavour, unbridled, but the roast malt makes a decent complement.
Thinnish feel; no real presence in the mouth. A little bland, but OK for the palate that goes along with it.
If it were stronger it might make a more interesting blend, or if there were more Belgian yeast notes, too. The spice is the dominant figure throughout, and the beer seems a bit uninteresting in what it does with it.
Collaboration between Bridge Road and Edge (which is itself a collaboration between Northdown and Beer Here). Brewed at Bridge Road. Tall 750ml bottle with a lurid pink label, purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne. Shared with Sam.
Pours a vaguely pink hued amber, much more golden when held to the light. Head is off-white to pink, quite frothy and fine, and reasonably persistent. Some faint speckled lace, but not a lot. The body seems quite light and a little flat. Carbonation is fine however, and stays pretty static when tilted. Looks decent enough, I guess.
Nose is fruity with pink berries, and tart from the saison yeast. It strongly reminds me of another beer: almost certainly another berry saison, but I can't recall what it was. It's this slight acidity, the flavours of the berries without the sweetness, and the tartness that seems to accentuate, or be accentuated by, the carbonation. Slight banana esters come through as well. It's ok, but nothing that really excites me.
Taste is similar, although here there's a most definite banana character coming through quite strongly, leaving a sweet, fragrant bomb of overripe fruit on the palate before disappearing in a hurry. The berry character is muted, although the aromatics stick around when it's in my mouth. Finish is dry and a little astringent: some tartness, and a slight aspirin character. There's also a slight medicinal hint towards the back, something like American cherry. After it's all gone, there's a vague fragrance like pink marshmallows left in the mouth. Interesting, in any case.
Feel is light, but clean, with perhaps just a little too much carbonation.
Overall, it's not an astonishing beer. The berry adds something, but it's perhaps a failure of the underlying saison: it's pretty dry, light and straight, not aided by the reasonably aggressive carbonation. In the end, I'm a little bit underwhelmed.
Had on tap at the brewery.
Pours a pale gold colour, maybe a touch of haze. No head left, which is a shame (Chris the brewer tells me they need to change dishwasher liquid). It looks pretty bland, really.
Smell picks up a lot of that slack. Lovely aromatic, organic barnyard funk with notes of rubber, some fresh lychee, rosewater and big peachy stonefruit at the back. Summery and fresh and lovely; could maybe lean a bit heavier on the true saisony notes, but still very enjoyable.
Taste unfortunately dips a bit from the aromatics. Bit light on the funk, with more of a German banana ester. Spice notes, clove and aniseed as well and a touch of nutmeg. Light rubber on the back. Pleasant beer, but a little lacking in the big saison notes the nose promised.
Light carbonation sizzle, a bit drying towards the back. Not bad.
Decent beer, but could be improved as a saison.
77 / 100
Pours a cloudy orange colour with stupidly generous head. Sinking marshmallow style with intricate ace weavings. A thing of beauty, really.
Smells funky and tasty. Slight vanilla cream on the front and then a sour, lemony/barnyard funk on the back. Touch of redcurrant and strawberry. Lovely.
Tastes quite odd, actually. Far sweeter, with creme custardy malt upfront. Funk is earthier, with wet lucerne, mould and damp characters, slight moonshine flavour on the back and only a hint of tartness. Bit astringent, but overall still very pleasant and enjoyable.
A bit of sizzle and slightly dry on the back. Not bad, though.
Good organic brew with a lot of natural flaws and inconsistencies, which aren't a problem; they just keep you intrigued.
75 / 100
Pours a vibrant, burnished orange, with slight haze. Tightly-packed head, off-white, not too glamorous. Looks acceptable.
Smells kinda Belgian, with noticeable but subtle phenols. Strong cinnamon character coming through, with notes of poached apple and quince as well. Sweet; very pleasant. Could use a little more saisony funk though.
Taste is more of the same. Cinnamon apple notes, with sweetish spice throughout, and a nice cinnamon back. Fruit on the back is a bit more tart and green than it perhaps should be, quite a touch of acidity to an otherwise pleasant apple/pear palate. Still, very tasty overall.
Again, a bit of a pull from the astringency on the back. Body maybe a little too thin to handle it.
I love the idea here, and wish the execution was better. Just tastes a little undercooked; otherwise very nice.
Pours a healthy umber colour, with some unfortunate chunks of unavoidable yeast. Beige head, nice and fluffy. Lace is pretty decent. Looks good.
Sour smell; pretty pungent. Bit of solventy goodness with licorice, unfermented cacao and a Chinese medicine shop as well. Oddly sweet, too, a funky mix.
Taste is really smoky upfront; about the only possible beer character I'm yet to get on this beer. Suffocated wood smoke, black pepper and juniper, with a touch of balsamic and fig on the back. Decidedly odd, not really accessible in some ways.
Pretty decent texture. Full, bitty, almost gritty, and somewhat dry on the back. Good.
Really extreme beer when it comes down to it. Funky, pungent, spicy and weird.
75 / 100
Tall 750ml bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne. Shared with Sam. Freshness date sometime in early 2014.
Pours a vaguely hazed golden colour, with a fine egg-like foam of off-white. Lacing is frothy and quite sticky. Carbonation forms in a few disparate streams up the edges of the glass. Body looks fluid but with some depth to it. Not bad at all.
Nose is round but flat, with a faint oxidised grain character to it. There's a suggestion of refreshing sharpness, perhaps some slight citrus or some sharp stonefruit. It also has a tad more maltiness than I was expecting. It's not bad, but it's not particularly special either.
Taste is similar, but for a refreshing sharpness on the back that blends acidity, carbonation and booze. Light, fruity entry, definitely stonefruit this time, perhaps some apricot or peach. Very clean palate for the rest of it, smooth, slightly fruity and clear, singing almost. Slight bitter, faintly phenolic bite on the back: it's that combination of booze and faint acidity, perhaps tainted with a little hop character, muted as it is. It's actually pretty good all up.
Feel is lovely. Clean, glassy almost, with enough weight to support the flavours.
Yeah, this is a nice beer. Restrained and balanced, but with some interesting flavour developments. The cleanness is really very nice, it makes it extremely drinkable despite it's 8% ABV. Very nice stuff.
Pours a burnished bronze-ish colour, fairly sedimenty. Lovely dense pillow of white head. Looks very nice.
Smells spicy, lots of nutmeg, star anise. Funky saison notes on there as well; fresh grass clippings and some stewed stone fruit. Nice, but a bit by-the-numbers saison, I would like the spice to pop out a bit more.
Lots of star anise on the palate. Quite peppery upfront, slightly tart. Aniseed myrtle, some nutmeg, cinnamon that blends well into the funky saison back. Quite fresh and pleasant towards the finish, but darker and more complex upfront. Bit of sweetness underlying with a touch of rubber on the back. Yeah... not bad. Again, delivers what it promises but only the minimum, doesn't really go further.
Smooth texture, bit of champagney edge to it as well.
Tastes like you'd expect; drinks like it too. Nice beer.
355ml bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne. A black saison, brewed with (unspecified) spices, as a collaboration between Green Flash in California and St. Feuillien in Belgium.
Pours, indeed, rather black: certainly darker than many Black Saisons I've had. Firm and deep body, that sloshes rather fluidly. Head is a toasty pale brown colour, pocked with large bubbles. Lacing forms in long ribbons as the head goes down. Looks pretty good.
Nose is spicy and slightly tangy, with aniseed and fennel coming through. Some mild peppery characters, and a hint of cola or candy sweetness. Liquorice is the main event though, and it's pleasant: it wafts in an out amongst the mild acidity and the roast to make a pleasant concert.
Taste is also heavy on the aniseed, but here it's much less dominant. Instead, there are big biting, bitter characters which seem to take over: quite pronounced hop bitterness, mixed with roasted astringency turning ashy towards the back. The saison character perhaps is only felt as a soapy lemony character, very reminiscent of detergent, on the mid palate, although the spices give a continuing peppery buoyancy through to the end.
Overall, it's not bad, but it feels a bit out of balance. There's a lot going on, in ways that aren't always in harmony. It creates something of a cacophonous whole that doesn't work as well as it might have.
79 / 100
A collaboration between Bridge Road and the Local Taphouses, this is a Black India Saison, pretty much brewed with everything: juniper, nutmeg cloves and a stack of Australian, Kiwi and US hops. Tried on-tap the the Taphouse in Sydney.
Pours a deep, ruddy red-black colour with a surprisingly clear body. Weight is decent, but it stays quite fluid. Head is a beige to off-white colour, leaving a fine persistent ring. Lace is bubbly and streaky. Looks decent enough.
Nose is wonderful: candy-like it gives a sharp sweet/sour blend, hints of apricot, fragrant fresh, fruity hops, green lollies and a sharpness like cola and wintergreen. It's awesome: very different, but it works really well.
Light hint of fungus on the front, with a crispy, buoyant vivacity. Some sharp hops come through that drop just before the mid palate. Here there's some rosewater, more suggestion of cola and a vegetative bite. It drops out a bit at the end of the palate, but by then it's done a pretty decent job all up.
Feel is slightly thin and light, but it works well enough with the style.
It's a really fun beer. It's amazingly drinkable and really quite refreshing. Definitely a bunch of strangeness to it, but it works, and provides something that's not only tasty, but tasty and unique. That's a really great thing.
62 / 100
A honey Saison with one of Evil Twin's customarily weird names. Sign me up. Had on-tap at the Local Taphouse in Sydney as part of their Scandinavian Tap Takeover.
Pours a pale gold colour with some hazing. Body is solid, which is not surprising given its ABV. Head forms a firm ring of white that leaves some sudsy, reasonably solid lacing. Carbonation is fine, and stays pretty static when tilted, even though there's not a lot of it. It's a little strange.
Nose is veering from strange into genuinely weird. Big floral characters and earthy manuka honey aromas giving soil and smoke notes. Deep rindy citrus gets a look in as well, but everything is trumped by the fluffy, almost cloying floral sweetness. It's weird but not necessarily in a good way: in fact, it's almost suffocating.
Light, sharp entry on the palate at least cuts through the cloy and ensures that it doesn't sicken with sweetness. Some funky flowery overtones mid-palate leave a rather dry and floury (ho ho) finish. It's rounded enough, but feels rather flat and limp by the end. Feel is smooth and fluid. Not bad.
It does end up being a little bit too cloying despite the lightness the palate brings. There's a stack of honey in this, and it persists right through into the finished product. Even though you respect the power it squeezes out of it, it does end up being a bit hard to drink.
Pours a dark cherry colour, with nice beige thin crown of head. Bit of sediment that accidentally fell into the glass. Looks nice, though.
Smells fairly funky. Slight toastiness with sour cherry, raspberry and a touch of coconut (without being sweet). Could have more layers to it, but what's there is nice.
Taste is spicy, fairly toasty with a dry grain flavour upfront. Touch of coffee on there, some rye and mild smoke towards the back. Slight charry character and fair funk towards the back as well. Bit of a hodgepodge really, I'd like it better if it chose one flavour line and followed it. A bit too much of everything, but then I feel a bit of a broken record saying that as it's my criticism of every Moon Dog beer.
Decent body, a bit sharp towards the back with the pull from the wilder yeasts.
Alright beer; it's enjoyable enough but I'd really applaud Moon Dog if they pared their approach back a bit and made simpler beers. Little less eye of newt, maybe.
Bottle purchased from Leura Cellars in the Blue Mountains. I love saisons, and I love Temple. I probably already have unreasonably high expectations for this beer.
Pours a perfectly clear pure golden colour, with a really disappointingly minimal head of white, that forms a fine ring after it settles down. Carbonation is also pretty minimal, and a little bit limpid. Patchy lace. Looks ok. When I swirl in the yeast we get a bit of haze, minimal other change.
Nose is a little sweet with some clean, generic malt characters providing the bulk of the aroma: it's almost like a strong German aroma, perhaps a helles bock. Some faint green tinges to it, a little skunky funk, but little spice, little organics, and to be honest, very little that's clean or refreshing. Pretty pedestrian, unfortunately.
Taste is marginally better, but still not much in the way of Saison. Some grainy chewy malt characters, along with some green, faintly herbal European hop flavours and some phenolic bite on the back palate. Again, it reminds me of a German lager more than anything along the lines of a Saison. The phenolic characters on the back perhaps morph into something slightly peppery, but that feels like I'm clutching at straws knowing what style it's meant to be. It's disappointing.
Yes indeed, disappointing. Temple should be able to do better than this, surely? Did I just get an bad or old bottle? I note that it's a bit better with the yeast sediment, but perhaps it's just adding character to a beer that's otherwise pretty bland.
Pours a pale golden colour, quite clear. Steady bubbling up to a white foamy head. Nice lacing. I wouldn't mind seeing a bit of cloud so I know it's all natural and farmhousey, but quite nice.
Belgian nose; fruity, sour and fresh. Organic funk with hints of phenols around the edge. Citrus and slight vanilla hiding at the back and a touch of fresh wood. Pleasant.
Taste is very Belgian. More bitter/phenolic with a mediciney edge towards the mid. Lightens off to a citric note, touch of herbs as well with basil and betel leaf. Generic Belgian, could use ramping up in the funky stakes for a saison.
Foamy and smooth in the mouth. A little dry at the end. Ideal for the style.
Decent saison but fairly generic.
76 / 100
Bottle purchased at the Hunter Brewing Co. Shared with beer buds Adrian and Sam and whoever else took a sample. I believe it was $16 for a 750ml bottle, which let's face it is a bargain.
Pours a very pale lemony yellow colour, almost the colour of a witbier. It's less cloudy though, and more vivacious with very effusive carbonation. Head is pale and firm, like beaten egg-whites. Lace forms rings as the beer goes down. It looks damn good.
Nose is sharp, but rounded. There's a depth to the aroma, and a little funk, but then it's all about the cutting characteristics: biting lemon, salt and a minerally crystalline structure. It's different to what I expected, and different to the majority of saisons I've had. That in itself is a novelty, and it's good in its own right.
Taste is light but crisp. Spiciness comes through, with herbal, vaguely sharp characters, perhaps a bit of rosemary, layered with soapy, slippery lemon skin and more of those mineral characters. Hint of chlorine backs it out, not in a bad way. Again, it's really very nice.
Feel is light and smooth, and yet bubbly with the carbonation, giving it a pleasant crispness.
Yeah nice saison. Not as full or as funky as some, but it's crisp and prickly throughout—perhaps one of the drier and more refreshing saisons I've had. Not bad at all.
76 / 100
Purchased on a recommendation from Adam at Platinum Liquor.
Pours a pale gold colour; cloudy. Head is cream-coloured, dense and fluffy on top. Retaining well. Lace is clingy and producing some inspiring patterns. Lovely.
Smells quite nice. Funky and organic, with notes of soil, farm animals and earthy spice, with a nice floating fruit aroma as well - some packham pear, apricot and underfermented champagne. Pleasant, but par for the saison course.
Taste is more saisony, even. Rubbery upfront, with some barnyard funk - soil and coriander characters, grains of paradise and, and some lighter floral notes of lavender and maybe frangipani. Very nice mix, lots of organic flavours. Quite an earthy funk, especially on the bitter back, but overall a very nice, drinkable BElgian palate, with lots of flavour.
Swills nicely in the mouth. Not too dry on the back. Really quite pleasant.
Textbook saison, really. All the weird yeasty notes are present and vibrant, and overall it's tasty and drinkable. Recommended.
Pours a pale straw-gold colour, massive haze through the body, almost opaque. Head is white, foamy, retaining really nice and thick. Looks like a great saison.
Smells very Belgian. Lots of spicy phenols, with a touch of barnyard funk. Heavy on the yeast but still smells a bit more on the side of Belgian Pale than Saison, could use more of that organic funk character and a bit more freshness.
Taste is a little sweet. Quite malty with a touch of banana as well. A little bit of funk towards the back and some light spice esters. Little bit phenolic on the finish but not really enough to tame the sweetness. Ironically after the nose the palate needs more of those Belgian phenols to ground it. Or more funk.
A little bit of bite from the carbonation; good enough body.
Not a bad beer but nothing spesh and a bit lacking in the saison stakes. More organic funk and possible tang would amp it up big time.
Pours a straw-gold colour, slight haze in the body. Head is cream-white, quite foamy but retaining well. Nice-looking saison.
Smells quite metallic, with a Belgian edge. Quite phenolic and to be honest a little lacking in saisony funk. Slight spice to it. Quite pleasant Belgian smells, but not particularly saisony.
Taste is fairly fruity, with plenty of complex tang and a little bit of organic funk on the mid-to-late palate. Bitter spice, Belgian phenols finish up. Yeah, there's a bit of that barnyard saison character, but it's not big. Decent, complex Belgian brew otherwise.
Nice body, nice texture. Bitty, full, but goes down easily.
Drinks like a saison but doesn't emphasise the saison notes enough on the palate. Otherwise I could really like this beer.
78 / 100
375ml green bottle, similar to the regular saison, but capped and covered with gold foil. Available during the Australian summer.
Pours a gorgeous deep golden colour, with solid hazing and a very fine bead. Head forms a pleasantly fine crest of just off-white; it crackles down to a solid persistence. Body is light bit smooth. Very solid stuff for the style.
Nose is clean but clear. Bright sweet stonefruit aromas, some spicy pepper, but very minimal funk. Smooth malt forms a slightly earthy, grainy basis, but it's subdued, and just provides structure to the aroma. It's very good stuff.
Taste is clear and sweet on the front: light but with a pleasant depth from the malt. Mild astringency, some slight slight spicy overtones, but with a big, pleasant marzipan sweetness pulling it back and making it comforting and warm. Feel is very smooth, but frothy and light.
The delineation between this beer and the regular Saison does indeed seem to be the sweetness: clear fruity characters tends to dominate this beer, whereas the regular has a pleasant funk underlining everything. This beer seems less of a saison as a result, but damn it's still very, very good.
75 / 100
330ml bottle purchased from Slowbeer by @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a solidly hazed peachy golden colour, with a frothy, rocky head of white. Minimal lace, possibly due to the relatively light body. Minimal carbonation, but everything else looks the business.
Nose is round and pleasant with Belgian characters coming through strongly. Decent peppery note as well, perhaps even a bush spice darkness. Slight juniper notes and a bunch of herbal notes—maybe basil. It's quite fragrant and bright—good stuff.
Taste is very similar, with that peppery spice and clean fragrant herbal notes coming through strongly, but it's backed up with a very nice sweet apricot character. Feel is very smooth and clear. It could use a little bit more rustic fragrance, or even a touch of acidity, but as it is, it's simple, but smooth and really quite pleasant.
Yep, this is good stuff. I'm really happy with it overall. It's solidly in style, albeit an approachable and pretty simple interpretation. But this simplicity makes it really very drinkable and enjoyable. Very good stuff.
75 / 100
Pours a gold colour, lacking in cloud which I would have expected. White head, really rather dense and sticks around nicely.
Rubbery nose, with nice fruit characters and lots of spice. Anise, banana and clove, touch of vanilla. Decent, but a little bit lacking maybe.
Spicy and fruity on the nose with a touch of funk. Slightly metallic at times, all very subtle with slight spice and slight funk. Just a hint of banana towards the back. Not bad at all.
Nice texture, with slight carbonation but a bit bitty as well to create a solid body that still goes down easily.
Very drinkable, has the hallmarks of a big Belgian ale without the booziness.
75 / 100
Pours a reddish-brown colour; bit darker than I expected but appealing. Slightly cloudy, with creamy beige head of decent thickness. Good.
Smells sweet and spicy with a hint of Belgian funk. Anise, clove and a hint of banana on there. Loads of character nicely handled. Again, very appealing.
Palate is all fruit and spice; lacking a little of that organic funk which may have complemented this all really nicely. Bit sweet, with lots of star anise, some clove, nutmeg, banana and a hint of ginger. Could use a few more Belgian esters in there as it's mostly spice. I like it, but I've had quite a few from Mountain Goat like this, and would have liked more invention.
Quite dry texture, little bitty but goes down fairly well.
Aussie-spice-style Belgian brew. I like what they've done here, but I can't silence that whingey little bastard inside me that thinks they could have done more.
Pours a pale straw colour, slightly cloudy with off-white foamy head. Decent saison, not brilliant.
Spicy notes with plenty of Belgian funk. Fruity as well and slightly sweet, with cinnamon, hint of passion, kiwi and mango. Quite nice.
Simple palate, all the characters you'd expect. Fruity, funky and slightly yeasty with nice notes. Quite Belgian and a little lacking in the typical saison funk notes, but nice phenols and a hint of rubber. Not bad.
Bitty texture, a little bit dry on the back. Not bad.
Yeah, could use more genuine organic saison funk. A nice drinkable Belgian ale otherwise though.
Pours a straw-gold colour, slightly cloudy with off-white foamy head, decent retention. Nice haze, looks like a decent farmhouse ale.
Fruity and slightly malty on the nose. Plenty of funky and floral characters backing up to a decent saison-style complexity. Quite subtle oak with a nice slightly sour funk. Not bad.
Spice dominates the palate with lots of saisony organic funk as well. Slight alcohol warmth as it travels through. Rubbery, sprucey and quite herbal overall. Oak comes through more as a subtle dryness than as a big bold flavour that I'm used to. I could use more oak flavour to be honest, but otherwise it's a nice decent saison.
Bit of warmth from the booze, lots of pull from yeast on the mouthfeel. Alright.
Decent saison, but I kind of have a high yardstick for Murray's beers. It all seems a bit subdued here and in the company it's keeping it could really have made a bigger, more explosive impression.
76 / 100
Pours a gold/amber colour, hugely cloudy, almost opaque. Cream-coloured head is foamy and sticks around OK. Not quite red, more of a standard saison colour, but nice.
Spicy nose with lots of funky phenols. Rubber, funky with very nice complexity and lots of it. Saisony, pleasant.
Palate is more fruity, particularly upfront. Again huge saisony complexity: fresh, fruity and pleasant. Backs up with a nice organic funk towards the back, more of that rubber and spice. Complex, interesting and pleasant.
Bitty mouthfeel, nice dryness. Great saison texture.
Nice take on the style. Again not quite red, brewed more to saison style, but brewed well.
375ml green bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Uncaps with an elongated hiss, followed by several inches of foam out of the bottle and onto the table top. Once it's caught, it's a pale, slightly cloudy, and incredibly effervescent golden hue, with a crackling, frothy head of white. Lacing sits in clumpy chunks across the inside of the glass, but clearly the main event in the appearance are those bubbles: masses of tiny streams running through the beer and making it look wild and alive.
Nose is clear and slightly acidic, with a hint of almost lambic-like funk to it. Slight apple cider characters come through, along with a zest of carbonated water, even a puff of chlorine. Something peppery as well. It's quite subdued, but reasonably pleasant.
Taste is very mild and light, surprisingly, much more so than their regular Saison. Slight pepper notes around the edge of the palate, and on the back, with a rounded Belgian fullness to the palate. But apart from the feel, and the structure, there's not an awful lot of real flavour to it. That's really quite strange because I expected this to be amped up over the regular.
Feel is good, however. Smooth and clear throughout, despite the visible carbonation.
Overall, this is solid, drinkable and enjoyable stuff. It's clear and clean and quite refreshing. However, it also seems more bland and tepid than the original La Sirène Saison—I was expecting this to be more extreme, and more risky (and hence potentially less successful). I was a little disappointed that it was less successful just because it's less interesting.
89 / 100
750ml capped and corked bottle purchased from K & L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Brought back to Sydney, where I shared it with Rich and Sam for our FantÃ´me tasting day.
Pours a mildly hazed but very pleasant deep golden colour, with a fine bit slightly filmy head of white. The head really only consists at the edges, forming some pocked bubbles in a pleasant ring, but feeling a little lacklustre elsewhere. Body is solid and holds some nice carbonation. Some patchy but inconsistent lacing. Not one of the better looks of the FantÃ´me range.
Nose is pleasant and clean, with a mild chamomile sweetness and a slightly green herbal quality. Clean and very pleasant funk comes through lending some crispness and a touch of acidity. Underneath is a very nice sweetness, almost a honey character: this is subtle, but it really provides a lovely basis for the other characters. Very pleasant indeed.
Taste is also very good: clean, light, really well-balanced acidity, bouncing off the other complexities that flit and dive in and out of the palate. There's herbal qualities, sweetness, faint pepper, even a pleasant carbonic character that works very nicely with the beer. Pearskin rounds it out, but really, the flavour keeps going for much longer, with a dance of acidity and tartness cavorting right to the very end. Lovely stuff.
Feel is great: smooth but with a clean acidity to cut through it very nicely.
Overall, this is a fantastic beer. It's so refreshing and very, very drinkable. 8% ABV? Not a hint of it: this looks like a clean, summer session beer, and seriously I would drink it as such. It's so very, very drinkable and so very delicious.
89 / 100
750ml capped and corked bottle purchased from K & L in Redwood City, CA around a year before reviewing. Shared with @tobeerornottobe and @LaitueGonflable in Sydney during our FantÃ´me tasting day.
Pours a lovely slightly hazed red-amber colour with a fine but subdued head of yellow-beige. Minimal lacing, and really surprisingly little retention given the other FantÃ´me beers we've had today. Body is solid and heavy, with a pleasant effervescent but fine carbonation throughout. Looks very good indeed. A bigger head would have given it a 5.
Nose is sticky and sweet, but with an underlying earthy funk and a hint of acidity that really lends some oddity and some depth to it. Strawberry jam laced with sawdust, or sweet fermenting fruit. Some dustiness comes through, suggesting a pleasant age that has perhaps integrated the characters a little more.
Taste is deeper and darker than the other beers we've had today, with the malt taking a more prominent role, and the yeast providing a more deep dark fruit and pudding character. Some pepper and a hint of antiseptic towards the finish, along with a wash of funk and organics that sets this apart from another big dark Belgian brew.
Feel is lovely. Smooth and rich, but with a lightness from the acidity which allows the beer to express itself, and lightens the load of the complexity.
Overall, this is really good, and a very nice diversion from the regular FantÃ´me range. The depth is very, very good indeed, but the omnipresent acidity really cuts it back and makes it accessible and refreshing. Really very good stuff indeed.
750ml capped and corked bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with @tobeerornottobe and @LaitueGonflable in Sydney as part of our FantÃ´me tasting day.
It uncaps without as much as a thunk, and pours similarly: rather flat and heavy. A mild ring of white forms around the edge, but otherwise it looks uncarbonated and pretty dense. Colour is a pleasant slightly hazed golden hue, and it picks up the light nicely: giving it a glow. Overall, it's not bad-looking, but is missing some of the key points of the style and the brewery.
Holy crap, what's going on here? Sweet and sour intensity, like heavily oaked botrytis semillon, with a hint of earthiness and a phenolic, gueuze-like bite. Some marzipan almond acridity. This is very strange: possibly just wrong.
Taste is similar, but maybe a bit better: apple and pear cider characters come through along with a pronounced acidity, and a slightly herbal and slightly carbonic bite on the finish. It feels rather thin, however, and has very little residual body: it's this more than anything that makes me believe this is not how it was supposed to be.
To be honest, I didn't hate it, even though it feels like this sample is infected with something that wasn't meant to be there: the stronger acidity is actually an interesting addition to the base FantÃ´me beer, which still managed to retain some character. But this is less good than it should have been, I feel, and I wonder just how much this has veered off from its goal.
Purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Opened during our FantÃ´me tasting day with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe, just to throw them off the scent. Upon uncapping, despite the gentle treatment and the solid chilling it received, it gushes out in waves onto my table-top, probably losing about a quarter of the bottle. Inauspicious start.
Colour is a cloudy but bright orange-yellow colour, with a very pronounced, and frothy, crackling head of white. Lacing is messy, anarchic and very full, when it forms. Decent weight to the body, with a nice amount of fine carbonation. Looks pretty good.
Nose has a solid, pleasant greenness to it, a touch of pepper and phenolics and a hint towards acidity. Some sweeter characters sit around on the back as well, perhaps the fragrance of fresh vanilla orchids, but overall it doesn't adapt and express itself an awful lot: it feels like it dumps everything it has on you in the aroma and then disappears. It's still pleasant, but you feel like it could have been excellent.
Taste is clean and mild, with some slight phenols on the back. Slight bite and a clean cider character, and not unpleasantly. Some phenols, and appleskin on the finish, which gives it a slightly biting and almost bitter finish. Perhaps a bit too sharp and bitter, in fact, which gives it a harshness on the back.
Feel is clean but quite light.
Overall, this is decent, but really not exciting, and perhaps even not that great a Saison. Their "Bretta" version is better. It also didn't explode all over my furniture.
83 / 100
750ml capped and corked bottle purchased from K & L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Brought back to share with Sam & Rich during our FantÃ´me tasting day.
Pours a very light and pleasantly clear golden hue, with a frothy, messy and rather sticky head of pure white, bubbly foam. Lacing is chunk and forms honeycombed patterns across the inside of the glass. Some fine carbonation, but surprisingly little. Body is quite light. It looks quite refined, but a little bit aloof, like it has hidden secrets.
Nose is smooth, classic and very pleasant. Slight green vegetative bite, with a smooth, rounded Belgian yeast overtone. Light, lilting citrus characters, with an underlying sweetness that gives a sherbet or fairy-floss undertone. It's really very nice, if lacking some real bang.
Taste is clean and crisp, with some mild lemon pith characters around the edges of the palate, and a direct, mildly bitter note through the centre. Some peppery characters come through on the end, along with the first truly earthy, rustic characterâbut even then it's quite subdued for a Saison; it comes through as a strong Belgian golden ale would.
Feel is light, but a little bit acidic: even though there's not a lot of tartness or true acidity in the flavour.
Overall, this is a really very nice Saison indeed. It's clean and fragrant and classic, and superbly refreshing. It's light, but it has subtle complexity throughout. A real winner, as far as I'm concerned.
77 / 100
Purchased at K & L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Brought back to Australia to share with Sam & Rich as part of our FantÃ´me tasting day.
Pours an incredibly dense and cloudy deep golden colour, with a fine bubbled and reasonably frothy head of pure white. Minimal lacing, and carbonation. Looks decent enough. I like the colour and the haze.
Acidic, vinous and oaky on the nose, with dusty organic characters and a slight herbal uplift. Some appleskin characters and a sharp point of phenolic spice. Lots of interest, and a good amount of stylistic Saison aroma.
Taste is oddly balanced between a number of conflicting and slightly unusual flavour vectors. Lots of coppery metallic bite on the front, with the initial flavour of acidity, although not the onrush of tartness on the back. A bready, savoury character comes through as well, and the finish is high on phenols, giving a light astringency. It's sharp in places, smooth in places and acidic in places, but all the characters never seem to blend, they stay separate, merely activating different parts of the palate. Weird.
It's a decent brew, but a weird skew for a Saison. I'm not sure they'll ever top their regular FantÃ´me Saison in my mind, which is so stylistically perfect it has become the epitome of the style for me, but this is a decent crack at doing something a little different with it.
71 / 100
Bottle purchased from K&L Win Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with Rich and Sam in Sydney during our FantÃ´me Tasting Day.
Pours a very deep coppery orange colour, with surprisingly good clarity. Head is foamy like uncooked meringue, and a similar mildly creamy colour. Lace forms in great swathes down the glass. Body is very light, but the carbonation seems quite static when the glass is tilted. It looks good, I'm tempted to say very good.
Nose is quite sweet, and with some sweet spices to match it, but it is brushed with the Saison palette as well, leaving some nice green funk underneath, and a touch of tart acidity. Spices become more prominent as it warms: some cinammon, perhaps cardamom and something vaguely zingy and citric. It's very pleasant stuff.
Taste is not unexpectedly rather light (it being only 4% ABV), with a very mild phenolic bitterness through the centre. Dried apricot characters come through towards the back. Lingering acidity and a faint spritz of carbonation keep it alive for longer than it has a right to be. It's quite refreshing, but it doesn't have much in the way of structure or depth to the palate.
It's very drinkable, however, and rather pleasant, if falling short of some of the other FantÃ´me beers. Then again, if you raised this one up to the level of the others, you might end up with a very similar beer--I can see how this one fits into the range.
72 / 100
Tried on tap at Harts Pub's Sydney Craft Beer Week event, which was one of the first places to have it on. I've been a fan of Red Hill since stumbling upon them when they were relatively new when we were on the Mornington Peninsula, and I trust them to do a good stylistic beer.
Indeed, the early signs are good with this one as well: a pale golden hue, almost the colour of cloudy apple juice, with solid haze and a decent heft behind it. Head is white tinged with a touch of yellow, and forms a firm, slightly silky ring. Lace forms in specks. Not bad at all.
Nose is very solid for the style as well, with a rounded, muted, peppery spice leading to a slight green vegetation character. Some banana esters and an overall mild fruitiness. A bit of that more rustic armpit-style funk to it as well, which adds some earthiness, and even a hint of smoke.
The flavour starts on similar lines, with some mild spicy characters and a fragrant vegetative character that melds nicely with some of the rounded Belgian yeast tones mid-palate. It veers a little towards the end, with a quite pronounced bitterness which feels a little bit out of place, and finishes with a touch of acidity which tastes a little like carbonation rather than something from the yeast. It has an aspirin character at the end rather than a clear Saison acidity.
Feel is very smooth, with that carbonation lending some flavour but not much texture to the brew.
Overall, this is very solid stuff, and probably only inferior to La SirÃ¨ne in terms of Australian saisons. It's extremely drinkable, light and quite quaffable for its 6%, but still has a bunch of classic Saison characters.
78 / 100
Bottle purchased from Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley, CA, brought back to Sydney and shared with @laituegonflable and @tobeerornottobe.
Explodes on uncapping, fortunately not gushing, but with enough foam to provide a solid pool on the top of my table-top. When poured, the head is massive, but fine, collapsing after a while to leave a sticky mess of complex, webbed lacing. Body is a smooth, solid orange, and the head is a mildly orange-tinged beige. I expected raging carbonation, but in fact the bubbles are fine and languidâif you swirl the glass just a little bit, they end up going sideways.
Nose is fruity, but tart and crisp. Plenty of apple-and-pears, with a hint of crushed greenery and a solid woodiness. There's a freshness to it as well, like scraped citrus peel: in fact, there's almost a crisp West Coast hop character to it, despite the fact that I almost solely attribute the citric bite to the yeast. Fascinating.
Taste is also good: firm bretty characters give an earthy wholeness to the beer, along with some peppery bite on the back, while more fruity characters fill out the edges. I get apricot, pear and a touch of unripe banana. There's an odd smoothness to it, almost like a vanilla note, that is accentuated by the feelâdespite the overt carbonation on opening, it almost feels completely flat. Crispness on the finish accentuates the lingering pepper, and gives a slightly brusque bitterness.
Overall, very good stuff. It's a ripe and appropriate saison, in the very best traditions of the style. When it's done well, it's a beautiful thing.
74 / 100
Bottle purchased from Belmont Station in Portland, OR. Shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a pretty chunky brown colour, with plenty of yeast floaties. Head is frothy enough, and forms a bubbly mess of beige. Body is pretty light and fluid, but holds erratic fine carbonation. Not much in the way of lacing. It's solid enough, but I can't say it's enticing me with looks alone.
Nose is biting, herbal, slightly astringent and almost with a hint of smoke. Slightly minerally, almost chlorine character comes through, along with some hints of roast, and the antiseptic aroma of a hospital. This is so weird.
Taste blends that antiseptic bite with a really confusingly smooth and rich chocolate malt character, which gives a toasty depth to the palate. Astringency on the end tries to dry things out and create a bit of a pucker, but oddly the malt wins out, leaving a smooth and long finish of roast and toast. There's perhaps a slight boozy/peppery/antiseptic character at the very end, but it's disconnected somehow from the rest of the beer. Weird, weird stuff.
OK, I really like it, probably because it's so weird and so disconnected from the regular standard beers that you can find anywhere you go. But that doesn't mean I'm not confused and aggravated by it. Keep it up.
87 / 100
Bottle purchased from Beermongers in Portland, OR. Brought back to Sydney and shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.
Uncaps with a massive fizz, but fortunately no foaming. Pours a lovely bright yellow-golden colour, very cloudy, but pleasantly light-bodied. Head is a smooth, egg-white sheen across the top of the glass. Some patchy, streaking lace. Looks pretty good.
I immediately get coconut on the nose, but it has an odd greenness to it, perhaps like coconut water, or the coconut that would lace a Thai stir-fryâbecause under it is layers of biting acid and mild astringency, that suggest citrus pith, plantain and an almost pine or cedar wood character. Wowee. This is expressive and exciting stuff.
Taste is also extremely good. There's not the mouth-ripping acidity of a straight Cantillon lambic, but it plays along with the other characters, suggesting that it could destroy your mouth if it wanted to: it's just that right now, it's feeling generous.Instead, we get a lovely buoyancy of mild citrus along with more oaky coconut, pithy greens, a touch of white grape juice, with a faintly fruity freshness to finish with. Wow. This is exceptionally good.
Feel is clean, but very, very smooth. It creates yet another wonderful balm to the acidity.
This is a truly wonderful beer, but it's unsurprising given the two breweries who gave birth to it. Birra del Borgo are now well on-top when it comes to Italian craft beer for me, this being just another in a great line of good beers.
58 / 100
Pours a deep, murky brown colour, with a fizzling, but fine-bubbled head of beige. It sits around really only as a ring, with some middling bubbles in the centre. Body is pretty fluid and light. Minimal lacing. Overall, I'm not overly impressed.
Nose is funky and yeasty, with a slight overtone of olives. There's something tannic about the darkness, and something acidic about the lightness. A hint of something meaty and porky (perhaps the touch of peated malt) comes through, but the sharp, almost piercing astringency seems to win out.
Taste is a little better, maybe because of the darker malts, which actually get a look-in here, leaving some dark fruits and a broader sweetness. Still, the yeast dominates again, and not in a way that's beneficial to the beer overall. Slightly piercing lightness streaks through to the backâit doesn't provide a true acidity, but it weakens the structure of the rest of the palate. This is not aided by the rye, which gives a spicy emptiness.
Feel is very light as a result.
Overall, I just don't know about Moon Dog. I love their concept, but I'm truly beginning to find a lot of their beers very samey. It's like they've made experimentation the new grey. The new dull. The new generic.
75 / 100
Bottle shared with @tobeerornottobe and @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a clear, bright, spring-like golden colour, with a fine, frothy and pretty persistent head of pure white. Where the head doesn't persist as head proper, it persists as lace, forming solid, chunky sheets down the inside of the glass. Carbonation is high, and it streams through the relatively light body very quickly. Looks fresh and good.
Nose is clean and bright, but with a fresh funk to it, giving a little bit of fuggy sweetness, and a light vegetative character. It also has a touch of acidity to it, but this is tightly coupled with the sweetness, giving it the suggestion of sour lollies. Not bad.
Taste is brusquer, peppery, sharper and with a vegetative bitterness. And to be honest, it works well. The sweetness is still noticeable, but it is drawn back and balanced by the biting rawness of the bitterness and the earthy funk. Little true acidity here, but the rustic, primal nature of the other characters work well. And despite these flavours, it ends up being surprisingly crisp, and easy to drink. Lovely stuff.
Overall, I really enjoyed this. It has some lovely rustic, earthy and dependable flavours to it, but manages to amalgamate them all into a clean, very drinkable beer. Good stuff.
85 / 100
Bottle purchased for me by @LaitueGonflable. I'd previously had this at Beer Deluxe in Melbourne, but had not reviewed it.
Pours a lovely clear golden colour, with a massive foamy heady of snow white. Lace is webbing and thick, leaving big streaky lacework down the inside of the glass. Body is pretty light, which is good for the style. Overall, I really couldn't hope for better appearance.
Nose is bright and fresh, with a clean crisp funk and a crushed vegetative aroma. Some mild grainy malt gives its odd earthiness: its connection to the farmhouse. It's quite pleasant.
Taste is better. It has a sweaty sweetness to it, mingled with all the sharp, crisp but fresh characters apparent on the nose. The funk is just right, it gives it an oddity, a sharp rustic note like ripe cheese, but it also leavens the palate while giving it its purpose, its gravity.
Feel is light, but pleasant, and perfectly suited to the beer.
Yes indeed. This is a very, very good saison. I'm impressed (and let's face it, a little proud) that Australia has produced such an exemplary Saison. This is easily the best Saison I've had from our shores, and it's a very, very damn good one too.
83 / 100
Bottle purchased from Belmont Station in Portland, OR. Shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe in Sydney, Australia.
Pours an immediately odd color: bright rose-like red, with a huge, frothing head of pink bubbles. Lacing forms in chunky patches down the glass. Body is very light, as you'd expect from a wild ale, or anything from Jolly Pumpkin's stable. Really good stuff.
Nose is intense: big, funky oak-barrel acidity with a touch of lactic to it. Everything is mellowed, however, by a bright and fragrant floral note from the rosehips and perhaps the hibiscus. The hibiscus, though, is more an afterthought: a clear, sweeter karkadeh note that sits around while the other character evanesce and dissipate. It's absolutely gorgeous.
Taste is lighter than I expected, and is a little disappointing for it (if you can ever call such a beer disappointing). There's a bright fragrance on the front: more rose and floral notes, but this doesn't translate into much in the flavour proper. Mid-way through we're left with a much lighter, slightly woody and carbonic emptiness, with just a sting of pepper in its tail. Don't get me wrong, this is still a very good brew, but I feel like it's "good" where it could have been "exceptional".
Feel is also light. Again, it's not unexpected, but I feel as though a bit more sharpness, even a slice of true acidity would have helped here.
I loved this beer. This is despite my feeling that I've said some less than complimentary things about it in this review. But like all really good things, I want it to be as good as it can be; and this beer is so close to perfection that I wanted it to get there for real.
90 / 100
Man I love that label. Maybe my favourite beer label of all time. I bought this bottle at The Beermongers in Portland, then brought it back to Sydney, Australia to drink with @tobeerornottobe and @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a surprisingly deep and rather opaque brown, with a filmy, but solidly fine head of mocha-brown foam. Speckled lacing form as it goes down. Body is quite fluid and light. Overall, looks pretty good.
Nose is roasted, but with a lightness or freshness to itâin this case it's almost certainly the Saison yeast, but I could believe a similar effect would come from a nice black lager. Here, we just get a touch more organics, a little coconut, and a touch of citrus. Not bad at all.
Taste is very, very smooth. In fact, I took a sip and thought it must have fallen out of my mouth. The roast flavour is there, but there's absolutely no bite or astringency to it at all. Instead, there's a creamy, slick, soft and supple sweetness and a faint caramelised nut character. Feel is beautifully matched with this. Holy crap: I have literally no idea how they achieved this with that aroma and that weight in the body. I'm fascinated.
Overall, mildness aside, this is a captivating brew. It's really mellow and light, but so coherent and integrated. I'm still a little bit wowed by it.
59 / 100
On-tap at the Italian SpecTapular festival held at the Local Taphouse in Sydney.
Pours an opaque yellow colour, with huge hazing to the body. Weight is very light, not unexpected for the style. Head is a pocked, but firm white, that leaves some patchy sheets of lacing. Looks pretty good.
Nose is bright and slightly piquant with coconut, brusque funk and a vegetative aroma like frozen peas. This melds with some other sweeter characters like vanilla. It's weird, even for such a lively style as a saison.
Palate is light and smooth on the entry, but a little bit flat, before the suggestion of proper saison-ness comes through on the mid-palate. Here we get some grassiness, a little bit more veggie character, and an earthy, grounded funk. However, this funk sits initially above an oddly sweet body that feels a little wrong, and then drops out entirely, leaving the finish dry, with floury pastry notes.
Feel is light with a hint of astringency that's not present in the flavour itself.
Overall, this is a fractured and fractious beer. The weirdnesses to it just go a little far, and make you feel as though this beer is erratic and uncontrolled. The novelty of this almost saves it, but I can't help feel that overall it's just wack.
Had on-tap at the Italiano SpecTapular at the Local Taphouse in Sydney.
Pours a bright, hazy golden colour, with a light white head. Very solid body. Spidery lace forms as the beer goes down. Not bad.
Nose is bright and spicy with some Belgian roundness coming through. Some pungent astringent herbs add a bit of interest, above a mild, smooth lemony character. Not bad.
Taste is similar, but lighter. The clean herbs come through giving a bite, but the roundness manages to smooth everything over. It's pretty clean and light. Not bad. Feel is clingy but ultimately clean.
Overall, this isn't a bad beer. There's not a whole lot going on, but it has something to say at least.
73 / 100
Had on-tap at the Local Taphouse's GABS festival in Melbourne.
Pours a golden hue, tending to bronze, with very high hazing. Head is an eggy white, leaving huge lace as it goes down. Nice carbonation through the full body. Looks good.
Firm Belgian characters on the nose, giving some rounded estery notes with a hint of spicy cinnamon and some pleasant light sweetness. It works well together, despite not really bringing much Saison.
Round Belgian flavours again on the palate, starting light and smooth on the front. These develop into some phenols and peppery characters mid-palate, before a dry, clinging bite on the back finally brings some brisk funk to the table. Feel is smooth but peppery.
Overall, this is a nice drop. Good drinkability, and solid enough
across the board. Not the most interesting beer I had at the festival, but very decent and well-made.
Had on-tap at GABS in Melbourne.
Pours a light yellow colour, fully hazed and with good weight behind it. Head is full and pleasant, and a bright white that almost strains towards pink. Looks good.
Bit of acid on the nose, but only a light, barnyard or rustic funk to it. The yeast is relatively clean and crisp, leaving just a bit of dustiness in the aroma. It's smooth enough overall, but not all that complex.
Light pepper comes forward on the front palate, before we get that bane of Murray's Belgian styles: the big phenolic upswell mid-palate, which really seems characteristic of all their Belgian-style beers. It really pushes the Belgian characters without subtlety. Finish is peppery and spicy, with some vegetal finishes.
Feel is peppery but in some way muted and blunted.
Overall: yeah, it's not bad. But Murray's seem to be doing a lot of Belgians in styles that are very difficult to get right. This is a classic example of that, and shows what a big gap there is between a "decent" Saison, and a "good" one.
On-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne. No Grisette style on BA, but it falls in a similar niche to a Saison, hence the classification.
Pours a pale golden colour, quite clear, with a white head formed solidly of large bubbles that crackly and pop their way out of existence. Lace is patchy as a result. Lots of fine carbonation. Looks pretty good.
Nose is fine in a generic Belgian sort of way. Slightly spicy with a hint of rubber and some banana esters. Overall, it's clean, but not huge, and not overly exciting.
Light grain on the front with some faint funky characters. This develops into a wheat-beer-like bubblegum character further on, with a clean but smooth finish. Very little crispness on the finish, allowing the rubbery character to come through in the aftertaste. Feel is clean and clear, and gives a polished professional edge to the beer.
Overall, this is very drinkable. I can't say categorically what a Grisette is after having tried this beerâin many respects it feels like a saison or a Belgian Paleâbut that's not a bad thing. This still feels solidly made.
On-tap at Alibi Room in Vancouver, BC.
Pours a deep amber colour, almost flecked with copper. Head is a mild, filmy white that leaves some spidery fine lace. The worst part, however is that it just looks flat and still. C'mon, this is a saison! I want it Alive!
Nose is lean and soft, without much funk or acid (or acid funk?). Some honeydew melon rind and a bit of green organics is as close as it gets. It's pretty mild all up, without a lot going on.
Taste is similar. Smooth, mild Belgian notes, backed with just a touch of green vegetative organics. No funk, no yeast notes (apart from a hint of that round Belgian sweetness), no real saison character. It feels very weak, limp and insipid.
This is a very average saison, without much going for it. It's drinkable in its way, but it's a poor example of the style. Once again, I'm at odds with the general consensus around Driftwood, but I just couldn't see the appeal in either of the beers of theirs I tried.
Had on-tap at the brewery in Seattle.
Pours a deep golden hue, almost hinting at bronze. Very solid hazing and a decent weight. Head is a disappointing faint ring of white. No lace or visible carbonation. Looks a bit insipid overall.
Nose is pleasant: mild pepper mingles with dandelion and earthiness to give a vegetative brusqueness that seems to birth the funk. This is mild, but pleasant and hints at deeper complexities to come. Not bad at all.
Smooth, creamy entry on the palate that repidly devolves into a vegetative bite, giving pepper, spice and lemon. Some honey comes through on the finish, but the aftertaste is bone dry. It's interesting and a little odd. Not complex, mind you, but interesting. Feel is very smooth.
Overall, there are some weird dichotomies about this beer. On one hand it feels very smooth, on the other if feels vegetative and bone-dry. In some senses it's quite refreshing, in others it feels rich and bloating. I can't quite wrap my head around it: any beer that can do that is at least worthwhile, even when it's not necessarily pleasurable.
69 / 100
On-tap at the brewery in Santa Rosa.
Pours a light yellow hue, with solid haze leaving the beer rather translucent. Light body, with only a ring of clear white foam around it. Minimal lace. Decent, but not spectacular.
Nose is excellent, however. Round Belgian tones, with a genuine hint of funk and some sweet acidity that gives hints of balsamic vinegar. It's sweet, full and oaky, with a directness of acidity that's very pleasant and very welcome in a saison, in my opinion.
Light crisp entry on the palate, but a lot blander than I expected. There's a rounded smoothness through the centre, and a touch of funk, but not a lot of complexity. Finish is funky, meaty and a little coarse, with gritty yeast bringing up the rear.
Feel is light, but liquid and smooth.
It's not bad all up, but I feel like it could have delivered more. The harshness on the back palate builds, and the overall character gets skewed from what it feels like it wants to be. There are some nice motifs here, and a lot of interest to be had. It just feels a bit wayward.
77 / 100
On-tap at Bailey's Taproom in Portland, OR.
Pours a bright orange-amber hue, with relatively good clarity. Head is a wonderful creamy egg-white consistency. Lace is sheeting and full, almost forming a perfect, persistent circle. Looks really good.
Nose is smoky but sweet, with a touch of acid and funk. Yep, that's a delivery of pretty much what I wanted from a smoked Saison. It's organics, huskiness and green-tinged acid, all with a sweet coherent smokiness over the top. Good stuff.
Light entry on the palate. some floral organics start up with a crisp, green, sharp fragrance, layered with smoke and funk. It's pretty light overall, but it really delivers on its promise. Light but rounded and classy feel.
Yeah, this is really good stuff. It's bright, light and drinkable, with genuine interest. It almost makes you think it's actually just weak and light given it's so drinkable, but the complexity is there.
78 / 100
Bottle purchased from Beermongers in Portland, OR.
Pours a very fine-bodied golden yeloow colour, with an exceptionally frothy and rocky head of white. Slight haze to the body, accompanying some fine suspended sediment. Body is pleasantly light for its ABV. It has good signs that it could be a good Saison...
Nose is excellent, exceptional even: crisp vegetative bite, with plenty of rustic funk and a clean, fresh citrus note that seems to come all from the yeast, and not at all from dry hop additions. It's fresh, and delicious, if perhaps simplistic. But then again, that's the style: it's a simple beer, and this is one that's done well.
Taste is similarly crisp, pleasant, and simplistic. Light vegetative greenness on the front, with a pleasant buoyant hint of funk which gives a touch of interest. Feel is clean, and bright. It meshes well with the light fragrant flavours on the palate.
Overall, yes, it's a good saison: but perhaps a saison needs to do something exceptional to break it out of the banal. Still, I've had very few saisons this good outside of Belgium, and the smoothness, crispness and general drinkability of this one is commendable.
74 / 100
750ml bottle purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA. Unfortunately, this looks as though it spent some proportion of its life on its side, as the cap and neck has a significant yeast sediment inside it.
However, with some careful wiping, this is removed, leaving the beer that pours a brilliantly clear light yellow colour, with a very frothy, aerated head of white. This collapses after a while, but it almost collapses sideways, sticking to the edges of the glass; it leaves such intense lacing. Great looking beer.
Nose is crisp and bright, with a clean, precise, almost clinical application of funk and oak. It has such a zesty, sparkling acidity, but it's broadened and brought back to earth so perfectly by an earthy oak character. It's not as complex and intense as some Jolly Pumpkin, but it sure shares its stablemates' class.
Taste is much lighter than the nose suggests, and much much lighter than the usual JP beer. There's a light apple-skin acidity on the front, that quickly dissipates, leaving a very empty, if smooth, mid and back palate. Boisterous carbonation makes it feel slightly bloating. Hint of pepper and a slight metallic twang on the finish, but it's not much. Overall, the palate feels a little weak, even though I appreciate the fact that the lighter style probably fits into their overall offering.
It's exceptionally drinkable. Yes, it is. It's a very, very good beer. Yes, it is. I just have such a high bar for Jolly Pumpkin that I want them to hit me out of the park with every brew they make. This is their standard beer.
Rye Saison? Sure, sign me up for that. Bomber purchased from Whole Foods, Los Altos, CA.
Pours a very clear deep yellow colour, with a very fizzy and insubstantial head of white, that expends itself after very little time. No lacing, very light body. Overall, it looks really quite weak and insipid. Not impressed.
Grainy, adjuncty, corny on the nose. Oddly sweet lager characters, and no hint of funk, spice, organics or anything truly saison-y. No, perhaps untrue: there is a hint of peppery spice to it, but it's the only notable thing in an otherwise very, very forgettable aroma.
Taste is similar, indeedâI feel like it might actually be worse. Here the adjunct character really comes to the fore, leading with a strong grainy corny character, with cooked green veggies and only a hint of that spice on the back. The only contrast comes from the overzealous carbonation, which is not helpful except that it makes you forget the cloying vaguely unpleasant sweetness.
Far from pleasant: I feel like this used an unusual amount of rye, which is where that unpleasant adjunct character comes from. Overall, it comes across as bland, unfortunate and unnecessary. Really not a good saison, really not a good rye beer.
78 / 100
Purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.
Pours a really light yellow colour, with a very faint haze to it and really light weight. Head is an enormous frothy mound of pure white. It certainly looks lively and vibrant.
Nose is round, slightly funky and slightly sweet, with some plasticky notes, a hint of appleskin and a rubbed sweet citrus tone. It has some fragrant sweet herbs like asian mint or Thai basil as well. It's pretty fresh, lively and pleasant.
Taste is similarly light and pleasant, with a really pleasant cleanness, no phenolics and no excess of yeast on the back. Hints of funk, minimal acidity, but a pleasant roundness and more of that fragrant herbal crispness. Really, it's quite tasty, and stylistically pretty good.
Very drinkable, and almost excruciatingly refreshing. Really, you just want to drink this down. Moreover, it's a pretty well-made Saisonâa style that I feel is rarely done well outside Belgium.
70 / 100
Tried on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne. This is listed as just "Hix" in the GABS guide, but looking at the other beers in their range, I believe this is what it would actually be marketed as.
Pours a very light yellow colour with some mild haze and a light body. Head is a white ring that leaves some solid lace. Looks decent enough.
Aroma is based around quite a bright, light cider character, with a bit of wood. Some funk is noticeable, giving a fresh but musty earthy, vegetative character. It's interesting.
Not a lot on the front, just a hint of spicy pepper, before the funk comes through a little more strongly on the mid palate, leaving a yeasty, earthy character. Finish is quite clear, but with a mild astringency that feels a bit unnecessary. Gritty aftertaste and a light but sparkling feel.
It's quite clean and drinkable, and really easy to slug back. Not bad.
69 / 100
A "spiced red saison", tried on-tap at the Great Australiasian Beer Spectapular in Melbourne.
Pours a deep brown-amber hue with a partially hazy but very lightweight body. Head is slightly off-white forming a solid, full ring of foam. Colour is magnificent, and overall it looks like a really solid brew.
Nose is spicy and peppery with fragrant earthy notes of prostanthera and aniseed backed up by a rather off-kilter bubblegum aroma. Quite direct, if spiky. Pretty decent.
Taste is composed of similar characteristicsâon the front there's a shock of spicy, herbal and peppery characters, while the bubblegum and yeast notes fill up the back, with a dry lingering medicinal finish. Feels a little flat overall, and the finish is a disappointment.
Overall, a decent brew. It's flavoursome, not overwhelming, if a little bit of a misfired experiment.
77 / 100
Pours an orangey colour with fairly heavy cloud and trails of light bead. Head is pretty cracking, a big fluff of mother-of-pearl foam, sinking marshmallow-like but retaining some solidity in the middle. Lace is not great, but it don't matter 'cos there still be head. Very nice.
Smells very funky. Touch of lemon seed and pith with lots of Belgian spice as well - coriander, white pepper and poppy seeds on there. Really quite musty as well, with some dank basement notes and some desert wind. Decent, and interesting.
Taste is also Belgian, and pleasant. Lots of malty notes upfront with toffee and caramel, then gets Belgian with slight apricot, orange and lemon pith above all, with maybe some cherry thrown in. White pepper, coriander seeds and bergamot come through then to join the mix. Quite nectary late-mid before the musty basement takes over, but a nice spice adds piquancy late and the tartness continues as well. Not a bad drop at all, nice complexity but pleasant and drinkable also.
Bit sharp and really bitty. Doesn't feel very fluid, there's so much suspension in the solution that it almost feels like it could clog. That said, it goes OK with the flavours because it's obviously a bit of a funky surprise package.
Nice Belgian imitation. Really has the taste and mystique of an ancient brewing tradition in there, with a real natural, stripped-bare aesthetic to it as well.
72 / 100
First tried as part of Murrays @ Manly Belgian Feast, reviewed at the Local Taphouse.
Pours a slightly hazy chrome (?) colour with very eager head up the glass. Head is white, smallish bubbles but retaining a thin crown. Could be cloudier, but looks OK.
Smells decent. Not quite up on the funkadelic scale, but there's some nice earthy, organic barnyard aromas. Touch of lucerne and some stone fruit. A bit subdued but still, nice characters.
Taste is a bit more funky, with bolder and more prominent barnyard notes. Bitter in tone with some horse blanket character, touch of acidity but also some honey. Light and drinkable, with a mild spice and a touch of rubber as well. Not bad at all, very much on the drinkable side of farmhouse rather than the exciting side, where my tastes usually lie.
Mouthfeel is full, bit drying from the mid-palate on and finishing quite dry indeed. Decent.
Yeah, I question exactly how effective a farmhouse ale this is because it just seems a bit toned down. Good for drinkability, but you can get the same drinkability with more flavour as long as it's well-balanced. I feel this is all a bit toned down and repressed for me.
100 / 100
Pours a bright orange colour, hint of amber, lots of cloud. Head is jaundiced beige, nice and effervescent but pleasant uneven sinkage. Lace left is pretty damn fine. Looks... well, Gilbert? What do you think? Does it look perfect? No? Are you kidding me? Well, screw you Gilbert, you don't exist. I say it looks perfect.
Smell is funky and wonderful. So much lively, lovely funk smell that just speaks volumes of story to me. Notes of barnyard with lemon pith, livestock and fresh-cut grass, but an acidic note with citrus that cuts through, followed by a sweet-spicy note of cinnamon, vanilla, orange peel, and some cake batter malt. What do you think, Gilbert? What? You think it's a 3, tops? Well, you're wrong again. Not only are you wrong, but you don't exist and you slept with my wife, you prick.
Taste starts very sweet. Maybe a bit too sweet? Lots of malt to that with plenty of caramel and a big hit of vanilla. The wild yeast creeps up though, cleansing it, with some mild hints of lemon, passionfruit and guava, all with a nice vinegary edge that remains drinkable. Slightly savoury at the back, maybe biscuity? It's clean at the back, which is great, although the fruit notes are more subdued here. Still, crisp but with all the lovely flavours I want in a beer. Sweet, touch of tartness late-mid, then clean but plenty of flavour left over. Gilbert? Is this the best beer I've ever drunk? No, you're wrong. The clean finish is something I didn't expect, and it becomes that 'je ne sais quoi' that raises this delicious beer yet another level. It's just immaculate.
It's sharp on the front but then somehow levels out to a smooth texture. It has the effect of nudging you so you know you're drinking something with a power that's out of this world, but it doesn't overwhelm your mortal palate. Ideal.
This beer almost made me cry, it was that good. After 1200+ reviews this has become the beer I want to settle down with in the country and somehow engineer a mutant beer-human hybrid family with. Despite Gilbert yapping away in my ear about gastronomic subjugation or some shit, I can't give it anything besides a perfect score.
85 / 100
Okay, first time I've done this for a while - reviewed straight from the bottle onto BeerAdvocate. Accompanied by "Born Slippy" by Underworld.
Pours with a massive, over-generous head. I sort of got a sense when I popped the cap that it would be a frother, but it seemed safe - until I poured it, that is. It's 80% head now after a bit of sinkage. However, the head itself looks magnificent. It's mocha-coloured, dense and tightly-packed, nice bubbles where it's needed, nice solidity as well where it's more suitable. Specks of lace are left behind as it sinks. Colour of the body is dark-brown. Seriously, if the head were tamed this would be a magnificent looker. But then, what man could tame such a head?
Smells pleasant, with large brett notes giving way to a lighter and airy tartness, with hints of grapefruit, barnyard, wet lucerne and guava. After the initial brett funk, the toasty malt notes come through, roasty and dark with charred wood, coffee grounds and a hint of spearmint. This manages to toe the line between roasty and masculine, and tart and fresh, really nicely. A cracker.
First taste is all head. Managed to get a little bit of the actual beer, and the beer is where all the roasted malt is at - quite roasty really, almost burnt, with espresso, wood smoke and some black pepper. There are hints of that saisony bretty funk, mostly where the head escapes into the mouth though - is it all aroma? - but it's pleasant and livens up the palate quite a lot. Organic, grassy and almost gives a meaty overall character to the roasty malt, but not at all stodgy. In fact, it's remarkably drinkable for its weirdness and darkness. Nicely spicy and funky overall, it's a real winner.
Mouthfeel seems a bit harsh at times, I think maybe the wild yeasts are left to their own devices a bit, and the body doesn't quite pad it out. OK if you're swilling it down, but if you're keeping it in the mouth to enjoy its complexities, I feel you'll be a bit let down.
Overall a cracker. Complex, really exciting and unusual, but maintains a drinkability that it's so easy to lose when you put together two gypsy brewers and let them create something weird. Top job.
59 / 100
Purchased on a trip to the US recently. Opened with @LaitueGonflable in Sydney.
Pours a hazy golden-amber colour, with an enormous frothy head of off-white, that forms a majestic crest and then subsides as the bubbles supporting it get larger and larger. In truth, the haze must come from the second half of the bottle, because the intial pour was quite clear. Body is extremely light and fluid, which is not surprising for a saison, but is pretty surprising for a 7.5% beer, whatever its disposition. Looks good.
Nose is bright with funk and oak, with a creamy sweetness masking the crisp, green crushed vegetation sharpness of the saison yeast. Some appleskin notes, and a hint of odd bitterness, or the suggestion of bitterness to follow. Interesting.
Taste is peppery and dry, with a husky vegetal character part way through the palate, and a drying finish of green appleskin that lends a touch of tartness. There's a little bit of sharpness mid way that suggests an overuse of hops, and a lack of funk that suggests an under-use of the yeast by-products.
Feel is light and crisp and pleasant.
Overall, it's yet another saison from Stillwater that doesn't really quite reach the heights of the style. It's a little disappointing given that that's their trademark. I'm still waiting for them to whack me over the head with something truly exciting.
94 / 100
(Best of the Best)
The last of Anchorage's readily available brews for me to sample. I love their others to bits, and I have monumentally high expectations for this one.
Uncorks pleasantly, with a bright "thok" but without the resultant gush. Pours a bright orange hazed colour, witb a full and fine head of off-white, that eventually succumbs to froth and its own effervescent, and collapses, leaving a smudge of thick, chunky lace on the side of the glass. Looks really great.
Nose is just... oh, it's phenomenal. Here, the brett has free reign to take over and stamp itself over everything. It leaves funky acidity like appleskin, fragrant floral characters and a musty, but leavened and sophisticated character like an aged wine barrel. There's even the faint hint of that Cantillon-like plastic gueuze funk. It's an amazing nose, all the more for how restrained and integrated it is. Lovely stuff.
Taste is perfectly light and fragrant, while remaining amazingly clear and refreshing, and true to the roots of the style. Some mild peppery characters on the front get quickly whisked away, leaving a refreshing clarity for the middle. A really pleasant floral fragrance picks up towards the back, and manages to mask some of the phenolic harshness associated with the styleâin fact, it feels like this never really comes throughâthere's only a peal of metal resonating on the finish.
Feel is lovelyâI mean, just perfect for the styleâsmooth, liquid, with a perfect weight for the characters it presents. It's just gorgeous.
What a phenomenally good beer. Genuinely one of the best saisons I've ever had. It's as though it *gets* the style to which it owes its genesis just perfectly, but layers complexity and depth and excitment on that its original wouldn't have thought of.
Despite this, it stays true to its rootsâit provides perhaps the new wave in saison awesomeness; the next generation of a phenomenal style.
I tried the local Australian version brewed by Ben Kraus at Bridge Road. I'm pleased that we got the original version over here as well. I loved the local one, let's see how this one compared.
Pours a deep, cloudy orange-gold colour, with a frothy, excessively carbonated head of just-yellowed white. Froms some clumpy, sticky lacing on the side of the glass as the head subsides. Carbonation is large-bubbled and the body is fluid, but doesn't hold the carbonation as it's tilted. Oddly enough, this is already significantly different from the Australian version.
Nose is, however, much along the same lines. Lovely bright ripe pineapple character, twinned with a touch of organics, giving it a crushed vegetation and curdled lemon character. This stands out wonderfully, and provides an awesome blending of the two styles.
Taste is, surprisingly, a lot flatter. Some clumsy bitterness through the centre of the palate clangs off the spicy, peppery saison notes, giving it a metallic finish. Earthy saison characters come through near the back, but there's almost no acidity to it, which was something I enjoyed particularly in the BRB version. The hoppy flavours of tropical punch have all but deserted the taste, leaving it more like a flat saison.
Feel is also a little overcarbonated, abrading the palate a little and leaving quite a bloating feeling.
This beer accentuates something in paricular for me: beer is better fresh, and freshness is probably one of the key factors in getting good beer (especially in this sort of style). While I love Bridge Road, I'm happy to concede that NÃ¸gne Ã is a better brewery, but of the two examples, I much prefer the fresh local version.
Maybe some day I'll get to try this one fresh in Norway.
83 / 100
Pours a cloudy pale champagne colour with some yeast sediment at the bottom. Head is very generous and white, quite fluffy but decent retention. Clumps of lace left behind on the glass. Quite nice.
Smells tart and bretty. Plenty of orange peel on there that provides both tart and sweet notes, hint of pineapple and some funky barnyard character as well. Tart, fresh and lively. Very refreshing and hugely enticing.
Taste is tart and fresh as well. Quite a sharp acidity on the front that's almost overwhelming with its bretty and slightly citric flavour, yet so beautifully mellowed out by the end with sweeter citric notes - orange peel and a touch of cake batter coming to meet it. It's possibly a bit on the sharp, sizzly side still, but the finish is clean, with a pleasant refreshing acidity and just a touch of spice - cumin and fenugreek mostly. Fragrant and musty to balance out that lovely tartness being the dominant character. Just fresh, crisp, complex and delightful.
A bit of a pull from the acidity, really. There is body there, but not quite enough and it comes across as quite sharp as a result.
Notwithstanding, that's a refreshing and delightfully complex beer, full of personality and charisma with intriguing flaws in just the right places. Just a great beer.
Pours a dark, dark brown colour, just murky where the light catches the edges. Head is beige, thinly dispersed with some decent trails of lace. Retaining a thin film. Not bad.
Smells underfermented, really, and not at all what I expected. Acetyldehyde largely, with just a mild undercurrent of roasted malt. But yeah, there's a fault there and it smells neither dark nor spicy enough as a result. A bit off.
Taste is better - certainly more character here. Fairly sweet to start, with a hint of acetyldehyde but then chocolatey and a hint of licorice on the mid. Fruit note on the back is more blackcurrant than anything else, with a touch of rye and some black pepper. Yeah, retains that sweet fruit, floral note over the top and could use more bitterness - either roasty, hoppy or funky in origin - I don't mind.
Decent mouthfeel, but leaves a little filmy and not quite chewy enough. Still feel it's maybe a bit underattenuated.
Some decent character here, but also some fairly serious flaws.
61 / 100
Bottle brought back to Sydney from the US and shared with @tobeerornottobe and @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a deep brown colour, with a bubbly and slightly unsubstantial head of pale mocha. Patchy, speckled lace forms as it's swirled, but the body is pretty light, and the head doesn't particularly lend itself to persistence. Not bad, but not all that great.
Nose is... rather thin and a bit lacklustre. Weak, filmy hints of cold coffee sit above a estery tartness, giving green hints of acidic apple. Some brown bread comes through as well. Very little spice, and very little coherence. It feels quite thin, and aimless.
Taste is a little better, but the thin characters of brown bread, mild roast and the subtle acidity are just pressed together a little better hereâthere's not quite the emptiness extant on the nose. The acidity works a little better here, just giving a slight slickness to the flavours on the palate, letting them slip towards the back. Still missing some spice, which would really help it along.
It's interesting enough in its way, but I wanted it to be truly good. I have for some reason hyped up Stillwater in my mind, and to date they are yet to give me an exciting reason for this. Again, it's decent enough, but it's also slightly oddâand slightly odd doesn't cut it: make it either really good, or really odd.
That's how you'll win me over, Stillwater.
72 / 100
Bottle purchased in CA, brought back to Sydney and shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a lovely, bright yellow colour, hazy with protein, and riddled with tiny clumps of disturbed sediment. Head is big. Big, frothy and bright white, looking jolly and exciting. Lacing is solid, but frothy and slightly insubstantial, like the head itself. Looks exciting.
Nose is funky and bright, with citric overtones to smoother vanilla and banana weizen yeast characters. Slight sharpness of vegetation or something to give it yet another lilt of oddness. To be honest, the two characters are slightly at oddsâand seem to clash a little bit more violently than the wild characters in other Jolly Pumpkin beers. But it's still quite interesting.
Taste is lighter, but smoother and more integrated. Here the funk gives it a slight earthiness, while the acidity really thins the palate. Very little on the back, although this gives it a bright refreshing character. Unfortunately, it also leaves it feeling a little empty.
Not bad, but one of the lesser experiments from the Jolly Pumpkin stable. A bit thin, a little weak, but still with enough interest and oddities to make me smile.
87 / 100
Pours a pale amber colour, pretty cloudy with a few floaties due to my clumsy pouring, but hey - I'm not averse. Head is quite bubbly, white and retaining a thin crown of clingy lace. Looks good.
Smells quite lovely. Plenty of saisony funk and phenols upfront, kind of musty with aromas of wet wool and barnyard, then the hops float over, disseminating their magical aroma dust everywhere - citrus, passionfruit and light kiwi. Lovely blend, really. Good grounding by the phenols and great lift from the hops.
Now isn't that interesting. Quite malty on the front but a distinct floral/fruity tang. Hints of chardonnay and lemon/orange, then the back is bitter but with a distinct Belgian funky flavour. Notes of damp basement, raw gelatine, black pepper and juniper, but none of them in a bad way; just intriguingly bitter and earthy. Yet the fragrant hops are still there, injecting a lilt of citrus fruit - mandarin and a touch of lavender. Lovely blend and really craftily handled. I doff my cap, gentlemen.
Having trouble noting the mouthfeel as there's so much flavour going on. Very smooth, though - slick with a touch of spice at the back, but no real pull, just leaves cleanly. Wonderful.
This had the potential to be little more than a weird experiment. But happily the hops don't strangle the saison character but just enhance it, and complement in a wonderful refreshing way. This is a cracker.
750ml bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne. Shared with @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a vibrant and alive golden colour, with a crackling head of white that leaves, intricate, complex and confusing lace. Body is pleasantly heavy, leaving very fine carbonation in its wake. All in all, it's a great looking beer.
Nose is less exciting than I expected, given the funk of Saison and the Nelson Sauvin in its genesis. Slight appleskin characters to it, with a touch of acidity, along with a slightly buttery smoothness and some mild spice. It's all extremely subdued, however, leaving a rather mild blandness as the overall experience.
Taste is similar, but you do have to appreciate that smoothness, as it gives a silky feel to the beer, and a refined note of vanilla. Still, there's very little note of the hops, the spice, the funk, the acidity I expected, and that's a long list of missing characters. What's left is a vague, generic Belgian character, which is pleasant and bright and drinkable, but missing much in terms of complexity and uniqueness.
I don't know. I expected more from a special release from Yeastie Boys. This is no doubt a decent beer brewed well, but I wanted a bit more edge, a bit more attitude. It ends up decent, but less than exciting.
Maybe I'm just spoiled by SÃ¸ren's 8 Wired Saison Sauvin, which was a much superior brew in the style.
74 / 100
Pours a nice orangey colour, mostly opaque with lots of cloud. Off-white head, nice and dense with decent lace. Looks good.
Smells quite Belgian. Sweet but a lot of spice - fairly musty with a hint of funk, cardamom and turmeric as well that gets almost stifling - to an extent. The fruity apricot and peach notes come through underneath. Some mild leathery notes and some pine needle resin as well. Nice, and interesting.
Taste is not quite what I expected. Very nutty actually, with pine nuts and almonds dominating the assault. Plenty of caramel malt with a red toffee character, a hint of honey and a slight whisper of chocolate at the back. Spicy yeast notes take over the finish, with a hint of pepper, fennel and coriander. Yeah, malty and nutty on the front that becomes very dry and spicy on the back. Can't say I'm totally blown away, but it's certainly a very pleasant drop.
Bit sizzly, from carbonation and possibly the yeast as well - maybe a bit hot from booze at back? Body is alright, but not enough to totally cover.
Interesting beer, lots of talking points but also the sweetness lends this a drinkability that the yeast mars at times.
77 / 100
Pours with a foamy, exciting head of froth, and a finely hazed orange body. Lace and head are both fine white, leaving some patchy lace. The body is pleasantly light and fluid, as a good Saison should be. Looks very decent for the style.
Nose is fresh and bright, but based almost entirely on the sharp and slightly funky saison yeast. This is a wonderful thing, giving tones of crushed vegetation, pepper, spice and green hay. It's a particularly "Belgian" saison character, despite the name, and a very good example of the art of the saison from a brewery not in the traditional Saison brewing area.
Taste is also good, although there are some oddities to it here. Bright and crisply light body gives a refreshing twang, but this is followed up by a rather nutty character, giving twinges of almond skin and marzipan. Definitely a touch of bitterness on the back, which is odd, but not unpleasant; it gives a clinging finish to an otherwise light and drinkable brew.
Feel is light enough and fluid enough, but the flavours tend to linger longer than you'd expect for a beer with such a slight body.
A pretty interesting saison from Stillwater, and an interesting introduction to the brewery. It has loads of character, and some interesting twists, but manages to keep it all well within the realms of the saison style. That's a hard ask any time, and to do it with such class is quite a skill.
Poured with a vigorous swirl part way throughâI only belatedly discovered that there's actually no sediment in the bottle, which is already a big detraction for a Saison, even one with a "not" symbol in its name.
Body is a rather deep golden colour with a foamy but rather insipid head of off-white. Carbonation is fine but stilted and perfunctory. Colour is way, way too dark for a real saison in any case, but I'm not particularly enamoured by any of the other characters either.
Nose is slightly sour with carbonic acidity, but also layered with a sweet apple acetaldehyde character and a floury yeast note. Ooh, way too sweet, nothing enough to cut through the sweetness.
Taste carries this theme on, but makes it more pronounced and perceptible. Here, the sweet apple brandy character comes through more, leaving a sickly trail of booze sharpness and cloying sweetness in a great, violent sweep across the palate. Acidity, what there is, lends an old lemon rind character to the mix, but it's shy and backwards. Finish gives a hint of dried lentils.
Feel is over carbonated with a thickness that adds, perhaps, to the cloy.
Wow. This is a really bad saison, probably one of the worst I've had. Beyond that, it's not a particularly drinkable beer, and far from the refreshing summer drop they tout on the label. Drain pour for me.
Unfortunately, I've had two below par beers from Invercargill now, and I feel it's going to have to be a great effort by the third to avoid me writing them off entirely.
81 / 100
Collaboration between Kjetil Jikiun of NÃ¸gne Ã and Ben Kraus of Bridge Road. Originally brewed at NÃ¸gne Ã, using Galaxy and Stella hops brought by Ben to the brewery. This version that I tried is the Australian version brewed by Ben back at Bridge Road.
Pours a gorgeous colour, bright, light and burnished pure golden yellow, with a frothy head of white that forms in large bubbles. Lace is superb. Body is indeed light, but it's hard to expect otherwise in a saison, but the carbonation is fine and powdery to make up for it. Looks fantastic.
Nose is divine and exceptionally fresh, with big sharp hop characters accentuated and complemented beautifully by the slight spike of acidity from the saison yeast. It gives it a greenness of pears, lemongrass and wet rainforest, with a lilt of pepper and a smooth round vanilla note. It's a lovely mixture, each character which complements the other.
Taste is also extremely good, and beautifully executed. Here, there's undoubtedly a sharp and rather bright hoppiness giving a bold bitterness down the centre of the palate, but it comes with luscious tropical flavours and a crisp lemon fragrance that really lifts everything. On the back, the bitterness pleasantly dips, leaving a slight peppery bite and lilting acidity. The oily hops do build up after a while, leaving a residual bitterness that starts to take over. It would go well with a little soft cheese or fatty meat to temper this.
Feel is pleasantly light, but very smooth and brightened with tiny amounts of carbonation.
A lovely brew and a wonderfully unique one. Wonderful to see this collaboration happening, and I'm so pleased I got to try the fruits of it.
75 / 100
I'd never heard of these guys before, but seeing some of their beers at K&L Wine Merchants, who I trust to make good beer decisions, I decided to pick one up.
This one pours a hazy copper colour, perhaps more golden when held to the light, with a frothy and rather vivid head of pure white. Actually, the head seems a little too light and bright compared to the body, but that's one of its charms, I suppose. Lacing is spidery and webbing. Nice static carbonation when tilted. Pretty good looking beer, all up.
Nose is mild, with slight Belgian spice and just the hint of acidity. It also has a dry, biscuity savoury character to it, which is a little odd, but certainly not unpleasant, giving it a little more depth and strangely a bit of refreshing twang. Interesting.
Taste is also mild, but it fits nicely in style without being over the top. Slight appleskin acidity streaks throughout, but it is tempered and balanced with light haylike grain notes, and a touch of pepper on the back. It's crisp and refreshing.
While it doesn't have the classic "funk" of a traditional Saison, it has the essence of it down nicelyâthe simple characters, the refreshment and the bright, rustic genesis. It's not going to stand up to the brilliance of the most complex and refined Belgian examples, but I'd say this is an excellent new world interpretation.
80 / 100
Guys, I just love the name. I haven't the slightest clue what it means, but that doesn't mean I don't love it.
Pours just like a saison should: bright, hazed and light yellow in colour, with a very effervescent and bubbly white head. Body is relatively fine and light, lace is streaming and thick. Looks pretty good.
Nose is really bright, crisp and fresh, with a slight citric character, and more organic acidity, giving a green fragrance of crushed vegetation and mild organics. It's milder than some of the best Belgian examples, but otherwise it's spot on.
Taste is also good. Bright and clear, with a mild acidity and plenty of redolent green organics to lift and sparkle. Very light in texture, which helps the genuinely refreshing nature of the brew. It may not be as absolutely complex and sophisticated as the best examples of this (ironically rustic) style, but it sure hits the nail on the head when it comes to the purpose.
Exceptionally drinkable and extremely refreshing. This is a brew that does a great job of distilling the best aspects of the style. I've had three of Evil Twin's beers now (four if you include mixing the Yin and Yang into a Yin-Yang black-and-tan), and they are certainly a brewery worth watching. Great work.
74 / 100
This is my 1500th review on BeerAdvocate. Shame I couldn't share it with my regular beer-reviewin' buds @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe. Ah well.
Uncorks with a sucking thunk, followed by a smoky mist of COâ. Pours a light hazed golden colour, with an initially crackling and very frothy white head, that leaves sudsy, sticky clumps of lace (or what is rightly just big gobs of foam) down the side of the glass. Carbonation is streaming and fine. It looks a vibrant, alive beer, which is what you want from the style. Not bad.
Nose is bright and slightly acidic, with some spicy, peppery overtones and an echoey note of metallic copper. Green organics as well, along with some estery compounds of banana. There's a hint of something herbal hiding towards the back, possibly mint or coriander. Nice.
Taste is rather sharp and a little astringent, giving a big phenolic bitter bite on the centre of the palate, before dipping away to a crisp, slightly metallic finish. Some earthy overtones come through a little, as does that organic, herbal bitterness. It's rather sharp, biting and cutting, but it does have some of those nice rustic Saison spices as well. Feel is light and crisp, but the carbonation ends up being a little bloating.
A good beer, but I really did want it to be better. A touch of acidity on the palate would have helped, as probably would have a lighter touch on the spices (assuming they added someâif not, it's a good job they did getting the yeast to produce such flavours). But it's still pretty drinkable and pretty enjoyable. Unfortunately, my standards for Saisons and for The Lost Abbey are unreasonably high, so I did find this something of a disappointment.
It's Hermitage night here for me, apparently. Nothing of theirs has ever really blown me away, but neither have I ever been really offended. Can they keep the streak going.
Pours a very clear and very light bodied pale golden. Exceptionally light for the ABV, and exceptionally clear for the style. Head is full enoughâa solid fine mesh on the top of the glass. Lacing is good, falling in sheets down the glass. There's some serious things wrong with it, but it looks ok, as a beer in general.
Nose is skunky, funky and rank. Big whiffy aroma of semi-curdled cheese, rubber, ass, seaweed mixed with a predominantly sweet, and rather adjuncty base. It's raw and rustic and definitely pongy, but this is offensive to all the Saisons that do it right.
Taste is even more cheese-like, with a big spicy cheddar bite on the front palate, and a peppered aftertaste that drops out lazily about halfway along the palate. Absolutely nothing on the finish, again suggestion some adjunct. It's extremely savoury, almost like eating cheese and water crackers, and it's not terribly appealing.
Probably the only impressive thing about this beer is the fact that despite the lightness of body and flavour, you can't really taste or feel the 7% ABV (again, probably a touch too high for a saison anyway). But apart from that, this has very little going for it. If anything, instead of accentuating what a good job good saison-brewers do, this one drags them down with it.
Pours a pale golden colour with mild haze and strong, furious bead. Head is off-white, fluffy and generous like whipped egg white. Looks pretty great.
Saisony on the nose, some organic notes with spicy barnyard, stone fruit, slight citrus, peppery character and some floral freshness hanging at the back. Hint of liqueury booze as well, pretty decent.
Taste is surprisingly tangy with a strong orange flavour upfront that then gets distinct off/rank notes midway with some capsicum, mustard seed and horsey note towards the back. Slightly boozey with a touch of heat but quite sweet on the back, and some more spice would be great; hint of marmalade finishes off. Not bad but a bit too much residual sweetness and doesn't finish as crisply as I'd like.
Full, fair stickiness with slight booze hit and dryness on the back, could use more to cut off the fullness.
Decent saison notes, but another argument in favour of capping saison ABV at 6%. The booze warmth just overrides the otherwise really pleasant saisony notes and they should be allowed to speak for themselves.
75 / 100
Pours a pale orange colour, mostly cloudy with light just paling the hue around the edge. Head is white, thick and frothy with lovely trails of lace being left behind. Lovely.
Smells very organic. Pleasant fruit complexities with notes of tangerine, strawberry and melon that lends notes to a funky underlay with a touch of wet hay, washed-rind cheese and some mild clovey spice. Very pleasant.
Taste is quite tangy, plenty of that fruit. Starts light and fresh with a mild tartness to it. More complex towards the mid with tangerine, cranberry and a touch of fig. Slight funk towards the finish with an earthy and bitter flavour of barnyard, sweat and grass clippings. Slight bitter lemon rind late on the palate. Very pleasant overall, could have more potent flavour and I'd still be happy.
Medium-bodied, touch of foamy texture midway with a bit of pull from the yeast. Decent.
Yeah, a good balance struck between potentially odd flavours to produce an enjoyable and refreshing brew.
71 / 100
Pours a dirty orange colour with opaque, dayglo cloud to it. Head is very generous, off-white colour and sunk unevenly with spots of lace around. Interesting.
Smell is mmm... appealing. Plenty of funk but it's all tarty and sour. Lots of citrus with lemon, grapefruit and some peach notes as well. Earthy washed-rind cheese and barnyard underlying. Fresh, tart, lovely.
Taste is puckering, to a fault. Plenty of nice fresh tart characters with citrus fruit, passion and fresh pineapple that reaches a quick apex before the mid, with a quite vinegary acidity and touch of guava that then gets sweeter as it reaches the finish. Touch of vanilla, caramel but all matched well by that lingering sour flavour. Would be really nice if the acidity weren't so strong, or dealt its sourness out in lesser portions or slower gradient. Nice, though.
Yeah, really very puckering. Lots of pull on the feel. Some maturation mighty smooth this out but it's quite sharp at the moment.
Very sharp sour beer; it makes an impression but could also have been very drinkable if the edges were smoothed out.
71 / 100
Pours a dayglo saffron colour, opaque with lots of haze. Head is white, just a thin film of bubbles really with slight trail of sticky lace. Looks alright.
Smells quite sweet with plenty of grain notes - pearl barley with quinoa and a good dose of white pepper on the back. Sweetness overlying with vanilla and peppermint hints. Intriguing and enjoyable, if ultimately a bit simple.
Taste is a bit odd from the get-go. Pulls you in with lots of flavour on the assault, grainy though and mild with lightly puffed rice giving way to a mostly empty front palate with an underlying citric note. Develops some vinous characters late with a touch of champagne and some mushroomy, savoury hints as well. Not bad, but I just feel there's something lacking. Bit heavier on the 'Americaine' than on the Saison flavours, but let's just say it's lacking 'heart'.
Fairly smooth, good body with a bit of a pull midway but otherwise light and pleasant.
A really drinkable beer where what is lacking in flavour adds up to genuine quaffability. Plus, it's intriguing enough for it not to be a flop.
76 / 100
Purchased at New Beer Distributors in New York, brought back to Australia to share with @laituegonflable and @tobeerornottobe
Pours a cloudy, bright yellow-orange colour, with a fluffy and light head of pure white. Pleasantly light body. Decent lacing. The colour, the head, the vibrancy; it all speaks of brightness and freshnessâit's a great look for a saison.
Nose is quite sharp, tart and incredibly vinous. The Chardonnay barrels give it a dry but crisply acidic note, that takes on a little of the sweet fruit from the apricot to give an aged white wine cork character. Quite green and dry, as wellâeverything screams wine here. The barrel characters come through a lot.
Taste is interesting, and actually quite well realised. On the front is the tart and quite sharp phenolic saison character, but instead of the dry and refreshing acidity on the finish, it gets ambushed by a pleasant smooth apricot sweetness, that swims around the back before allowing the dryness to come through. Not a lot of input from the pepper, although some of the saison spice is probably accentuated somewhat by the addition.
A nice beer, and what's more a reasonably decent saison. Instead of overriding the saison characters, the apricot and pepper just nestle in amongst them, giving them a prod in an odd direction every now and then.
78 / 100
Purchased from New Beer Distributors in NYC, along with two other Cigar City beers. Brought back to Oz to share with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.
Very cloudy and bright, a deep, shining orange hue that traps the light with its opacity and radiates it back gently. Head is full and foamy, and very vivacious, almost spilling out of the glass on the pour even when only pouring a third of a glass. Lacing is raucous and crazy. Looks bright and pleasant and very suitable.
Nose is very tart and acidic, almost hinting at a lambic level of sourness. Quite an organic funk to it as well, along with a hint of green, slightly grassy or haylike sharpness. It's not as incredibly robust as some, but it's pretty decent.
Taste is clean and sharp, with a very pronounced acidity, but not as teeth-clenching as a really raw gueuze, for example. Here, this is the rustic and laboured acidity of a truly biting saison, and it works to overlay this tartness over the sweeter body. Under is the hint of the fruit, although it's not nearly pronounced enough to make it seem like a fruit beer or anything as gimmicky as that. Feel is bright, and a little sharp.
Incredibly refreshing and quite astonishingly drinkable for an 8% ABV brew. I wasn't expecting anything quite as sophisticated as this, but this is a beer brewed with fruit done right.
73 / 100
Purchased from Tribeca Whole Foods in NYC, and brought back to Australia to share with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a cloudy but very light yellow colour, with a somewhat patchy large-bubbled white film for a head. Minimal lacing and the body looks very light. Carbonation is fine, and I like the opacity of the body, but otherwise it's a bit lacklustre.
The nose, however, is very pleasant, with an organic fragrance and a true bite of slightly sweaty saison yeast. Rather round and very Belgian in style, giving a sweetness that feels rather raw. Hints around the edges of curacao and other fruity esters.
Taste is also good, and fitting nicely in the Saison genre, with a hint of slightly peppery phenolic bite on the front and a clean and crisp finish. Very little acidity, which is a shame, because I like a hint of acidity to my saisons, and this one just peters out without giving up much else, but it's very true to style and very much in the true Belgian, round and full and slightly biting category of saisons.
A good non-Belgian saison, but far from my favourite. It feels like it paints the broad strokes of the style well, but misses the little details. It doesn't have a true complexity, it doesn't have the acidity and it doesn't have the interesting organic funk of a great example. And that's a bit of a shame.
87 / 100
Dry-hopped rye saison? Did you just put three of my favourite beer-terms into a single beer? Is this even going to work? Let's let the great Avery Brewing Co answer these questions. Tried on-tap at Barcade in Williamsburg, NY.
Pours a deep and burnished amber-brown colour, with enough haze to catch and expel the light. Head is fine-bubbled, but a little weak and filmy. Not much lace, just the odd patch of foam left behind as the beer diminishes.
Nose is slightly bready, but with deep rye notes, giving its own acidity that mingles with the true funkâalmost gueuze-like notes of rubber and crushed leaf. The leafy freshness is the only real suggestion of the hops, but otherwise it's very niceâa weird mix, but one that works really well.
Taste is rather sweet, with clear rye notes singing out with a touch of bready acidity, and mingled notes of cacao nibs and carob. Some cleansing bite on the back and a touch of organic bitterness. Not a lot of acidity, really, apart from what is imparted by the rye, but this is actually welcome, as it would undermine the smoothness and the dark sweet characters. Smooth, complex, gorgeous.
Yep. I'm a fan. I love it when breweries put together something unusual that really works. Avery has done it again with their anniversary releases; this is an excitingly different but brilliantly realised brew.
Pours a pale gold colour with enough haze to blur the light shining through. Head is nice and fluffy; sinks slowly but surely and leaves a thin crown of big bubbles. Steady bead, pleasant lace. Looks great.
Smell is very rubbery at first. An unpleasantly bitter phenol comes through which, with training, evolves into a lighter, enjoyable citrus aroma, with tangerine, orange peel and some frangipani as well. Too subtle to wow me, but it's pleasant enough.
Taste is a fairly odd one. Starts a little 'off' with some rank funk giving an almost spoiled-milk flavour, but it's too short-lived to be truly bad. Refreshing early on the palate with subtle citric notes that then turn into more funk, with rubber, marzipan and a savoury, gristly note as well. Touch of barnyard and a slight hint of floral camomile on the back helps lift it late. Can't help but feel like the flavours here would be nicer and blend together nicer if this weren't such a big beer. Not all beers need to be so big and complex, and as a result of it being so, this beer is just a bit overblown.
Bit sharp on the front, smooths out on the middle then very dry on the back. Not bad; suitable for the style.
Yeah, this beer is slightly dour in parts and as such it's just less refreshing than I would like from a saison. Otherwise a decent construction.
74 / 100
Pours a russety-copper colour with off-white head, nice and dense. Feel like the head could be darker. Density is nice, but only thin retention. Lace is lovely, bead is steady. Looks nice.
Wow, didn't expect that. Mango to the max on the nose. So fruity, with dried mango, passionfruit, apricot, orange peel, peach and pear all vying to be fruit supreme. Tangy, but it's really just sweet and fruity. Could use more tartness or funk, but still, points for gathering the complexities they have within what is ultimately just a very light, fruity aroma.
Taste is pretty damn tangy, also with the fruit thing. Lots of mango on the front that magnetises peach, passionfruit and guava towards the culmination. Lots of almost roasty bitterness on the back, might just be the combination of the funk and hops but it just tastes like there's been too high a roast on the malt. Nice balance. Touch of tartness late-mid and finishes more chocolatey than anything but it's a nice weird palate; it reminds me of those dark chocolate blocks where they mix in mango, lime and chilli. Rich, fruity, but still predominantly weird.
Fairly full-bodied, and smooth. Really nice texture actually.
This beer is too weird for me to love. But at the same time I have to admit to having a soft spot for weird things. And did I mention this is weird?
Purchased in the good ol' US of A, and brought back to Sydney. Cracked open with @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a deep, hazed golden colour, that looks a lot darker when not held to the light. Head is full and frothy, although it vents its air and collapses relatively quickly, leaving a pure white veil on the top. Lacing is patchy, and the body is very heavy for a saison, but otherwise looks good.
Nose is light and slightly tart, with green appleskin characters the main event, along with a touch of slightly sweet vinegar. There's a little peppery vegetative character like arugula or something else slightly herbal, and it gives it the slight organic edge a saison needs. Not bad, but certainly not as good as the best.
Taste is also pleasant, and vaguely stylistically correct, without hitting the high notes. Slight peppery phenols through the centre and a dry, yeasty Belgian finish. Some herbal, organic notes, but only if you're searching for them. Lacks the slight touch of acidity and the true rustic funk of a good saison, but again, it's kinda on the right tracks.
Not a bad beer, and a surprisingly supple one for a saison this big, but the phenols and booze hints it gets from the extra alcohol are not supported by a really good base beer, so it feels big for no reason. I'd prefer more funk and less booze, thanks.
95 / 100
(Best of the Best)
Thanks to @epiclurk for the bottle for my birthday. Shared with @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a very dark, almost amber-copper colour, way off for a saison, with a pock-marked head of lazy white foam. Lacing is goodâsolid and consistent, forming in rings as the beer goes down. Body is light, especially for 7% ABV, but that probably goes with the slightly twisted New Zealand style.
Nose is, yeah, wow, getting freaky with shit. Huge Sauvin Kiwi hop character of passionfruit, biting green redolence and vinous acidity. But along with this is a slight bodily organic funk that lends savoury and unsavoury characters in a wonderfully anarchic mish-mash of hedonistic chaos. Oh hell yes you can do this with a saison thankyou.
Taste is... oh god it works, but it's so weird, and it bastardises a style I hold so dear. The saison funk and acidity is present, but it's warped and twisted with the slight acidity from the Nelson Sauvin hops, giving a perverted clinging bite to the basis of pancake sweetness, throwing up weird characters of smoky barbeque sauce, melon, passionfruit soaked in bourbonâit doesn't stop. Every sip gives you something weird and unique; pummeling you with characters that shouldn't exist, and then showing you just how awesomely they work. It's sacrilegious.
Holy shit, what a beer. It does something so wrong that turns out to be so right. It makes me want to cry into my glassâbut whether I'm crying with joy or with sorrow, I can't tell.
78 / 100
Had on tap at Moeder Lambic in Brussels. I was warned when I ordered it that it was an "unusual" saisonâthey said dark, but I think they just mean "unusual".
Poured a rather light golden colour, and rather clearer than many a saison. Head is fine, but perfect white and forms sheeting lacing. Great looking beer.
Nose is mild, with a slight herbal aroma. A touch of honey and a tipple of savoury bread. Unusual, certainly, perhaps for no other reason than that it's missing the characteristic saison funk, but it's still quite pleasant.
Taste is very odd, and very savoury. Here, the herbs turn peppery, giving a crushed pepper bread and almost chilli or capsaicin flavour (no heat or bite, though). Bright and light throughout, with minimal body or sweetness. Nice. Really unique and surprisingly refreshing.
Very drinkable, but unique and quite exciting. A very good brew, and moreover: an interesting one.
78 / 100
Ah, the first beer of my US trip. For breakfast, no less. Nice, well presented "ace" bottle, corked and caged.
Pours a hazed and cloudy golden wheat colour, with a foamy and full head of white. Lacing is patchy, but sticky. Looks like it has some heft to the body, which is good. Nice fine carbonation. Overall, a very good looking saison.
Nose is zesty and sharp, but with organic overtones (ah, Saison funk and Sorachi Ace make a brutally good combination). Hints of coconut, lime, flax, raw wheat and linen. Although the citric Sorachi and the funky pepper Saison yeast characters sound like they would create a cacophony, in fact, they meld together into a creamy, smooth almost vanilla like combination, despite the fact you can still identify the individual spicy attributes. Great.
Taste is similarâquite smooth and creamy, but with a lift of citric acidity and a bite of organic bitterness on the back. Aftertaste gives off some of those tropical coconut flavours. Throughout, there's a raw, rustic funk, but the Sorachi characters seem to change the location to somewhere humid and Eastern.
Overall, a great beer, and a rather large and complex one. As it turns out, this goes somewhere very different from where I thought it might, which was a light, drinkable and refreshing brewâthis is a big, and robustly interesting beer; one that should be sipped.
74 / 100
Pours a dirty brown-tinged yelowl with lots of cloud. Thin white head that sticks around pretty well, and some very nice sticky lace. Good.
Smells funky, organic and quite vegetative. Metallic bitterness on there as well as some vinous tartness. Yeah, the dirty bitterness of the rye matches the funky brett tartness well. What I expected from the brief, and nicely put together.
Tastes quite tart. Starts malty, with rich toffee caramel grain. Develops vinous tart notes early, with a bit of a pull on the mouth that then develops a dirty bitterness, slight rye spice but mostly just dank, organic notes, almost starchy at times. Not a lot of actual barnyard saison notes, but it's a funky palate overall. Touch of wet lucerne and horse at the very back. The blend of that rye spice might detract a bit from the overall saison effect but it's a good blend and an appealing palate.
A bit thin actually, with a touch of sharpness from acidity. Not bad
I didn't really have high hopes for this, but it's delivered for sure. Drinkable, pleasant, good blend. The best offering I've had from the Bruery so far.
Pours a pale golden colour with light haze. Head is white, very generous - nice, dense and fluffy with big bubbles appearing on the top, and decent lace that really could be a bit stickier. Pretty good.
Smell is quite Belgian. Rich, fruity and spicy with a dry musty edge. Lots of champagne grapes giving tart notes, some white pepper, capsicum and hint of clove. Slight boozey edge at the back. Yeah not bad, but the dryer, mustier notes could give way either to more fruit or more funky aromas, just smells like Belgian yeast.
Taste has a nice fruity underlying character. Stone fruit largely with lots of apricot, peach and candied orange. Develops into musty notes midway that really dry up the palate, producing some light vinous characters and a lot of mellow spice notes. Tart, highly attenuated, warm, but still a tad simple overall, with a slight alcohol heat on the back. A pleasant, drinkable palate but it still falls short of real greatness.
Bit sizzly on the feel, dry and a bit harsh overall. Good body though.
Really strikes me more as a Belgian strong pale than a strong saison, it's very Belgian in character but lacks those organic funky farmhouse notes. If the alcohol were reduced they might come through more but the warmth of the booze just ups the other Belgian yeasty flavours a bit too much.
Pours a dark brown colour with slight off-white head, thin film. Lace is decent, not as sticky as it could be. Not bad.
Smells kind of 'off'. In a good way. Plenty of weird Belgian funk but dark malt as well, and the combination kind of produces a corporeal, vomitous kind of aroma. Slight acid with an earthy, almost meaty smell. It's a curious smell, not wholly successful just because the roasty aromas mar the refreshing saison nature, but yeah interesting.
Taste is interestingly roasty up front, with cocoa notes and a bit of toasted grain. Develops slight funk notes midway, with fair amount of acid, touch of cranberry, but not a huge funk flavour. Finish is toasty and of a nice length, with a development of chocolatey sweetness. This doesn't have as much funk as your best saisons, but instead it's quite a tasty mild dark beer.
A bit tart and sizzly on the mid-palate, but really well padded by the end. Quite a nice texture.
Yeah, I really dig that by the finish. I think Doc could have upped the saison funk ante a bit, but it's an otherwise pleasant beer.
A black saison. Trust Doc to brew Australia's first black saison. Let's see how it compares to the only equivalent beer I can think of: Jolly Pumpkin's Bam Noire. Sampled on-tap at the Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst.
Pours a deep reddish brown, mahogany deep when held to the light. Head is a filmy but fine mess of light brown bubbles, that stick in wonderfully anarchic lace patterns down the inside of the glass. Body is light, but the carbonation is rather languid nonetheless. Looks good.
Nose is an odd blend of lightly roasted malts and a distinct spicy acidity. It careens wildly on the inside of my nostrils, giving some caramel sweetness here, then organic rustic rankness there all spiced up with a bite of citrus. Can't quite wrap my head around it.
Taste is similar, but oddly thin through the centre. Roasted malts give a coffee scent through the centre, but the spicy, slightly phenolic bite jangles weirdly with it, giving it medicinal tones. Minimal sweetness, and not a huge amount of breadth on the palate, meaning the finish is too sharp, abrupt and slightly bitter.
A weird brew, and one which is on the cusp of working, even if it doesn't quite get there. How does it compare to Bam Noire? Well, I feel the final sentence of that review is equally fitting here, so I'll use it again: it's an adventurous and unusual beer, and I respect that.
60 / 100
Purchased from the International Beer Shop in Perth, while on a visit there. Chilled in my hotel bar fridge and served into an inappropriate hotel glass.
Pours a hazed but bright and light lemon yellow colour. Head forms in zesty, soda-pop-like carbonation at the start, but disappears almost as quickly, leaving a full and gelatinous body that just keeps large-bubbled carbonation on the top. Certainly quite heavy.
Nose is a bit zesty and a little spicy, but rather subdued overall. Some meaty, sweaty funk, a little pepper and a dash of grainy, organic malt, but all quite mild. Decent, but not exceptional.
Taste is similar, but the spice is a little more pronounced here, giving a very pleasant organic green vegetation bite. Phenolic on the back, which is out of character for the style, but adds crispness as a whole. Unfortunately, it doesn't really add anything to the palate, which is genuinely lacking in stylistic elements.
Feel is smooth and clean, but light, despite the appearance and the additional boozy notes on the back.
If you're going to make a Saison this heavy, it really needs to accentuate the classic organic and funky characters. This really doesn't, and it suffers for it. It ends up being too sharp, too heavy and certainly too boozy.
73 / 100
Tried on-tap at the Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst. They seem to have had a good range of MP's brews in recently, which is great.
This one pours a cloudy deep golden colour, almost tending to orange, which I think is quite dark for a saison. Head is fine, but a little bit filmy, leaving some slight white sheeting lacing. Very fine bead. Good depth in the body. Looks good.
Nose is surprisingly spicy, and certainly lacking some of the saison organics and funk. Slight peppery notes and a leafy banana character, that doesn't have enough grunt to be earthy. More of a sweetly spicy and rubbery note. Interesting.
Taste is good. Smooth and sharp, but leavened with a spice character which refreshed and cleanses the palate. Organics come through here, giving a bit of earthy bitterness. Still, not a lot of acidity or funk, but it's pleasant. Finish is smooth with an almost vanilla sweetness.
Again, it doesn't strike me as classically "Saison", as it's missing some of the funk, the rawness, the acidity and the rustic genesis. However, it's a tasty and drinkable brew, and a nice one to see on MPBrew's rotation.
78 / 100
Tried on tap at the brewery.
Slight pale gold colour, mild brown tinge to it and considerable haze with light bead. Head is off-white and sunk quickly to a ring of whispy lace. Could use a more opaque haze - or at least it wouldn't be unwelcome in the style - and more head, but decent anyway.
Smells very funky. A salty, corporeal aroma with complex bouquet of fresh orange, barnyard animal smell, some peppery spice and lavender. Maybe a bit on the rank side, but it's plenty saison-y and there's plenty to like here as well.
Taste strikes me as a bit subdued at first. Quite sweet on the assault with mild caramel malt that then starts to gather steam, developing rich earthy flavours midway. Some barnyard funk with soil, hay and a corporeal edge round out the mid-palate. Some nice bitterness late, slightly phenolic with a twang of citrus at the very back. Really quite a drinkable saison with good complexities that aren't too heavy to lower its accessibility.
Fine tingly texture with a slight viscous body. Very nice.
Great beer here by the MP brewery. Saison seems to me a difficult style to get right and not many Aussie breweries are trying it. But this is stylistically bang on the money and has enough pleasant flavours not to put off the average lager drinker.
(Once I'd finished my reviews of my four-beer sample paddle, I put the half-full glasses in the midst of my three not-really-beer-drinking friends to taste, and this one came out the favourite.)
81 / 100
Pours a very, very cloudy opaque brown with dayglo orange around the edge. Slight floaties suspended around the glass. Head is off-white, quite dense but not very thick, just a crown remaining. Some small trails of lace, but sparsely distributed. Looks alright, if a little odd.
Smell is very tart indeed. Lots of sharp - but not intense - acid coming off with citrus notes and some mustiness with slight caramel malt underlying. Some barnyard funk and maybe some tart berries as well. Pretty nice.
Taste is an odd one. Never reaches highs of funk or acidity, but as a result, strikes a nice balance. Some mild grain notes on front that evolve into caramel sweetness that underlies the rest of the palate, but layered on top early-mid is this citrus-tinged tartness, while also gatherine peach and baked apple flavours together. It then becomes slightly funky and damp on the finish, as the tartness trails off, and the sweetness remains as well. Nice, complex palate that nevertheless has a very restrained, even subdued profile.
Fairly foamy, and quite thick. Lots of texture that almost makes it feel layered in the mouth, like there's a base, and a texture above it that isn't quite connected; a bit odd.
An eminently drinkable saison with a great balance to it.
74 / 100
Had at the brewery 20/12/2010.
Pours very opaque dayglo saffron colour with firm, dense white head that retains extremely well. Not much to report with no sinking of the head and no light passing through the body, but yeah, good looking beer.
Smells nice; fruity with a good barnyard funk to it. Fair rubber and leather notes and a nice passionfruit aroma together with canteloupe and that candy melon ester. Very pleasant and good saison nose.
Taste is quite nice. Fair tangy note upfront with citrus and melon character; gets quite funky on mid-palate, with rubber and wet wool notes, some touches of smoke as well that blend well with a musty Belgian character. Very mild green pepper spice as well. Lots of good saison characters and plenty of refreshing notes. A bit heavy on the phenols at the back, but it's all true to style so I can't take points off except for drinkability.
Mouthfeel is a bit overly sizzling, but a fair body lessens the impact. Pretty good.
A very decent saison and it's good to see the style getting a look-in. I'm a bit disappointed the bartender tried to talk me out of getting this :)
75 / 100
On-tap at the Local Taphouse Darlo.
Pours a hazy yellow colour with a very fine but lively and bubbly head of white. The cloudiness in the body is nice, and smack on style. The body itself is quite light, but that again suits the style. Overall, pretty nice.
Lovely aromas on the nose. Some fruitiness is predominant, with fresh peach and lemon tartness the biggest contributors. Organics come in a little later, with a wood bark character giving a restrained depth to the beer, while a sweet pastry character mingles with the tartness to round it out. Not a lot of classic Saison funk, but the acidity is well done.
Taste is extremely refreshing, which is perfect for a saison. Light phenols give a crispness throughout and a restrained bitterness on the back cleans the palate. There's not a lot of acidity or true saison funk, but there's an earthy bite and a touch of musty organics that bring it into line nicely. Feel is light and crisp.
A very drinkable Saison. This is a great style of beer, and Bridge Road have done a good job with it here.
76 / 100
Had on tap at the brewery 07/11/10.
Pours a very pale straw colour with healthy haze through the body. Head is white, retaining quite thinly with a steady carbonation stream feeding from beneath. Pretty good saison, not amazing.
Smell is nice and crisp. Tart but with lots of malt and rich funk. Lots of rusty metallic character, a hint of barnyard aroma and a touch of cinnamon spice. I like that underlying sweetness though, it really balances the funk well. Great enticing aroma, all the right complexities here and there.
Taste is quite tart, with some wheat notes actually, fresh banana and pineapple on the front and mid as well. Gets that slight barnyard funk flavour with a touch of wet lucerne or something on the back and a touch of leather. Finish is sweet, with underlying brown sugar and fruit that has nice residuals from that tart funk. Bit of lemon curd on there and a woody bitterness lingering behind. Fairly good saison really. Nothing special but all the right flavours handled well.
Very fizzy mouthfeel. Body is a bit thin for the amount of carbonation it's producing so it's actually a bit harsh on the palate. A shame really, I've discovered the dark sheep aspect of this beer.
A nice balanced saison for drinking, very refreshing and enjoyable.
75 / 100
Pours a pale straw colour with mild turpidity to it. Head is white in colour but lacklustre, just a ring of foam with isolated bubbles here and there. A swish gives it about half a finger back. Lace is decent, not great. Not a great-looking beer in all honesty; hope it smells good.
Smells pretty good, actually. Funky with a mild amount of acid on there. Some citric notes in the background with orange peel and a light cranberry hint. A wet blanket funk at the back gives a slight nuttiness, but overshadowed by the refreshing tartness, nice and fruity.
Taste is fresh and pleasant; lots of fruit with some white grape skin and orange zest on there. Lots of tang and slight acid complexity towards the mid that has shades of an immature sauvignon blanc. Some marzipan character and light sweetness hanging at the back, fructose for sure with a hint of granny smith apples. Slight champagney dryness, then finish is funky with a hint of rain-soaked barnyard flavour, slight grassy hint to finish and just a touch of damp basement. Very refreshing though, and nicely balanced with mild flavours for the most part; just never overwhelms the palate.
Quite a bit of zip and zing on the feel. Nice tingle, good body. Just feels like a party in my mouth, and there's a stripper passed out on the couch.
I said at the start that this wasn't a good-looking beer. But it's got substance, and heart. One could totally fall for this beer.
81 / 100
Purchased at BevMo Sunnyvale, CA, and brought back to Australia to share with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe after they helped me move house. @tobeerornottobe left before the event though and missed out.
Pours a slightly hazed pale straw colour with a voluminous head of fine frothy white head. Some sudsy speckled lacing. Not a lot. Fine bead of carbonation looks very refined indeed.
Nose continues the refined, almost champagne like quality of the beer. Light dry characters, and a slight nut-butter sweetness. Hint of vinous acidity, with a light honey character keeping it together. It's a delicious. Saisony? Not so much, but it has some truly excellent characters.
Taste is also very good, although the acidity is surprisingly absent here. Light sweetness, more nuttiness, a touch of fruit and a biting yeasty finish that is subtly bitter but quite dry as well. Very well put together. Feel is surprisingly smooth, and has some body. It's not immediately dry, but is sparkling and refreshing.
A lovely brew, and an extremely refreshing and refined one. If it doesn't have many true saison characteristics, it can be forgiven, because it's an extremely good and extremely well made beer. I enjoyed it immensely.
85 / 100
Cap is extremely well sealed on the bottle. Seemed to take an awful lot of effort to prise it off. Pours a light and hazy straw yellow colour, with a huge and boisterous head of fluffy white. Lacing is complex and confusing. Refined fine bubbling of carbonation through the body. Looks lively; a great look for a saison.
Smell is exquisite. Lots of white wine cork, crushed lemon myrtle, slight vegetative funk and a crisp acidity. A little deeper, there's a rough meatiness to it as well, adding a round Belgian yeast note to the already pungent characters. What a ripe and raucous Saison aroma.
Taste is clear and biting, with a crisp savoury note through the centre that blossoms into a lingering and freshly smooth bitterness on the back. Minimal acidity, but there's lots of organics - big crushed vegetation characters, a woody earthiness lending a slight almond flavour midway through and a crispness on the palate which excites the taste buds. It's a fabulous saison.
An exceptional drop of beer, and a fantastic example of the style. The complexity and the subtlety work beautifully in tandem to make this exciting and drinkable in equal proportions. Ah, no one beats the Belgians at a good saison. And this isn't just good - it's magnificent.
46 / 100
Pours an orangey golden colour. Head is huge and frothy. Sudsy lacing. Boisterous bubbling. Very vibrant and alive, which is what you want in a saison. Looks pretty interesting.
Nose is big and funky, with huge citrus characters, and a really nice almost smoky malt character on the back. Something solid and very grounded connect with the light and airy saison characteristics. Bit of pepper coming through as well. It has some really pleasant saison characters. Perhaps not as well integrated as some of the best examples, but the malt character grounds it nicely.
Taste is unfortunately quite thin, and rather insipid. Some spice on the front, with a lingering acerbic bitterness and a touch of acidity throughout. But there's no depth to it, no connection with the malt as in the nose - indeed, there's little body or malt on it whatsoever. Just a woody acidity, some funk and a green organic character on the back. And that bitterness, which doesn't really match with anything else. No, it doesn't work for me.
Oh, no. The Bruery has done it again for me. Every time I'm expecting something big, exciting and robust, and there's always an insipidness to their beers. It's happened every time so far, and I'm wondering how long I can continue to stick it out.
50 / 100
Pours a glowing orange-amber colour, head is off-white and very generous with nice dense puffiness on top but sinking in the middle. Body is quite cloudy, but there are some bubbles on the bottom that dislodge when you tilt the glass. Pretty damn nice.
Smells quite fresh, with a lot of vanilla. Slight fruit tang with some banana and citrus, and at the back is a very phenolic aroma, slightly musty but well-blended with the fruit aromas. Good.
Taste is very bitter and phenolic with lots of funk. Starts out with a bit of a citric note, tangy and fresh, quickly goes very funky-bitter and then grows far more intensely so - cheese rind, aspirin and a bit battery-acid metallic flavour dominating the finish. A big kirsch flavour on the late-mid as well, fair alcoholic flavour but yeah, that metallic character is really powerful and a bit off-putting. Not terrible but leans too heavily on all the less enjoyable saisony characters, and I don't find this very refreshing.
A bit of a sizzle on the feel with reasonable thickness. Not bad, quite smooth.
Yeah, a bit overcooked, this beer. I can imagine this being quite enjoyable for some but I don't really enjoy it a whole lot.
61 / 100
Pours a burnished amber hue with large loosely-webbed off-white head, good retention. Fed by the furious bead from below, has a mild cloudiness to the body. Head sinks unevenly, leaving some marvelous trails of lace around. It's overcarbonated for a saison but otherwise looks wonderful.
Nose is sour, earthy. Large amount of funk coming from the head, sweaty leather with rusty metallic notes. Hint of tobacco spice and maybe some ginger, some sweetness lingering behind but mostly corporeal and very pungent. Can't say I love this, it just doesn't scream "drink me!"; it more screams "wash me, I'm sweaty!"
Taste is curious. A lot of malt on that underlying the whole palate. Slightly tart at the front, hints of cherry and citrus together with a slight fizzy texture. Funk emerges midway giving me leather esters and wet wool, pronounced but not off-puttingly strong. It peters out nicely, leaving a burnt caramel finish with some earthy hop spice and a slight yeasty residue providing some sourness. Definitely a tart bite on the middle of the profile, creates a slight puckering sensation that actually seems to neutralise by the end with good body, still a little dry.
Interesting and drinkable enough, lacks a bit of flavour though, it's more a "sensation" beer - you feel the sourness and the malt without them massaging your tastebuds much.
Pours a very dark orange, almost amber colour, extremely deep for a saison, but with boisterous and lively carbonation forming a frothy and fluffy head of white foam that leaves some good lacing. The head and carbonation screams of an alive beer, but the colour is very surprising.
Pepper and candied lemon rind on the nose, certainly a hint of acidity anyway, with some dusty yeast characters and something green and organic. I like it a lot, in fact - it has quite a light aroma profile all up, but all the characters are on target, so it's stylistically good, and damn it smells refreshing.
Taste is a bit disappointing, quite light on the fron, with a slight phenolic note, with a metallic twang. Mid palate is thin with perhaps just a slight acidity, and back has a slightly roasted character that implies to me a darker than required grain bill, as suggested by the colour. Throughout it all is a light acetone note which twinges off everything else.
It's not bad, but the nose is pretty representative of the style, so I expected a better profile on the palate as well. Pretty drinkable though, the sparkling mouthfeel lifts it, and although it has some off notes in the flavour, I found it a pretty good drop.
Pours a very pale lemon colour, hazy and cloudy with snowy head, small bubbles with a meringuey appearance on top, sinks leaving not much lace. Steady, actually forceful, bead. Interesting and quality-looking brew.
Nose is quite citrusy, a lot of crisp notes akin to a lager. Hint of lemon zest and a bit of orange, slightly bitter-sour with a good bend toward freshness. A hint of malt and that brusque bitterness predominate. A bit bland, but refreshing. Lacks classic saison funk.
Taste is curious, a lot of tang and quite bitter. Starts with a slight grainy character, malt with a hint of corn and maybe some wheat notes as well, descends into that lemon zest flavour which is quite acerbic and bitter. Gathers a slight aspirin tinge on the middle with a very mild vanilla note on there as well. Finishes bitter with a mostly phenolic hop character, touch of cough medicine flavour and more lemon tang to freshen it up a touch.
Mouthfeel is a little harsh, a bit of puckering towards the back, noticeable carbonation and a whisper of alcohol make it overall quite dry, but decent for the style.
Can't say I'm a huge fan but there's a lot of flavour here that doesn't overwhelm the palate, quite drinkable.
74 / 100
Pours a very light gold colour, with a hint of haze from disturbed yeast sediment. Head is initially boisterous, but the large bubbles crackle down to a film. Not a lot of lacing, and not a lot of body noticeable, but that's to be expected for the style. Looks pretty tasty.
Some round sweet characters on the nose, spliced with a hint of tart acidity. Some green crushed vegetation characters and the bounce of seltzer water. Bit of spice coming off it as well. All very true Belgian characteristics. Pleasant.
Taste has more of the spicy medicinal qualities, perhaps the orange peel finally showing through. A bit of herbal bite on the back, and a lingering bitterness that mellows to an empty grain-bag huskiness. Mouthfeel very light, sparkling with small-bubbled carbonation. It leaves a very green feeling in the mouth, clean, but leaving something slightly organic.
It's a nice brew, and a very drinkable one. I'm unconvinced this should be classified a Saison as it is here - it doesn't have quite the acidity or rugged musty organic characters - but it's a light, refreshing and enjoyable pale Belgian style ale.
Pours very dark amber, brown-yellow up to the light, with huge, voluminous head, dense and marshmallowy on top, sinking slowly with an interesting foam formation left in the middle. Looks like a cappuccino with a marshmallow melting into it. Leaves amusing puddles of lace behind and seems murky and cloudy. Exquisite - a marvel to behold.
Smell is funkadelia, with lots of olfactory-cleaving pungent tartness. Huge acidity on there with underripe berry notes, some currant notes. Yeah has the classic Jolly Pumpkin, not a lot of darkness except for maybe a richer maltiness underlying. Love the smell, though it doesn't scream uniqueness at me. Reminds me quite a lot of the Bière de Mars.
Taste is...well, interesting. Definitely lacks the acidity and piquancy I had expected. Front is malty with a nutty kind of character, slightly nut-brown, then becomes mildly brown ale-esque with a slight English character and a slight roastiness. Slight sourness on the back but not tart at all, gives it a kind of capsicaian character with mild peppery spice and yeah, a bit of funk but not much at all. Bit of a letdown, really. It tastes kind of like a mild brown ale, could use more funk to spice things up. Not bad but pedestrian, and a bit disappointing from the pumpkins.
Quite nicely textured though, smooth enough. If anything it's a bit thin, but it's quite slick and smooth. Quite drinkable.
77 / 100
Pours an absolutely gorgeous deep chestnut brown colour, with a huge and frothy head of pale creamy white foam. Lacing is spectacular, and with the luscious, vibrant and beautiful colour of the body, it's hard not to perceive this as a nigh-perfect looking beer. Of course, it's an unusual look for a Saison, but this is what they're going for.
Big vinous oaky characters on the nose. Lovely deep grainy characters as well, but the funk and the oak are the biggest winners. Just enough to suggest darkness, but primarily the wild and unrestrained notes are dominant.
Taste again is balanced oddly between dark grain notes and a little funk, although here the grain characters and the roasted flavours are more prominent. The funk adds a lilting freshness over the top, skewing the palate to something slightly unusual. Very interesting, although it's a little thin.
An interesting brew. Saison? I'm not sure it has the freshness to fit the canonical style, even with its interestingly warped skew towards the dark end of the spectrum to give it some leeway. It feels a little flat on the palate, but it's an adventurous and unusual beer, and I respect that.
80 / 100
Wow. Pours a perfectly clear light straw yellow colour with a huge crackling head of white bubbles, that dip in the centre, but stay attached around the edges of the glass forming a thick and convoluted lacing. No visible carbonation, which is odd, but it looks intriguing from the start.
Oh my goodness. Nose is a huge melange of hoppy herbal characters. Smells like a good bunch of Nelson Sauvin, with slightly earth Belgian yeast underneath. If I had to pinpoint the exact herbs, I'd say rosemary and oregano, even though I know it's more of a Scarborough Fair mix. Actually, I think the parsley comes through somewhat as well. In any case, it's an insanely fragrant nose, if only because the herbs are in such prominence.
Wow again on the palate. You know, I really can't tell if this is really, really good or really, really bad. The herbs are again in prominence, but they really feel well integrated into the beer. No, there is not a lot of saison funk, but the herbs do add an organic quality which fits well with the base beer and the spicy notes from the saison yeast.
It tastes somewhat spicy, fresh and fragrant with herbs, with a lingering, earthy bitterness. It's absolutely fascinating, and for all that it falls way out of line for a traditional saison, it keeps a saison-like refreshing bitey palate.
You know, I'm going to go with "really, really good". This is what brewing in America is about: reinventing styles, experimenting, screwing around, but still coming up with something refreshing, tasty and drinkable, and something unique, unexpected and fascinating.
72 / 100
Pours a nice cloudy orange with nicely voluminous head, sparsely webbed out beige foam sinking in the middle but leaving some decent specks of lace behind. Like the colour, the haze, the head, pretty much everything that's supposed to be here is, just a bit lacking in lace.
Nose is very Belgian, a lot of sour yeasty characters with notes of rubber, leather and fresh bark. Slight green apple aroma at the back and hints of herbs and light peppery spice. A bit too much Belgian-ness and not enough saisony funk. Smells a bit too tamed, even mild, for me.
Taste is better. Slight malty beginning with a light honeyed edge descends quite quickly into a nice funky mid-palate, with nice complexity done subtly without a flavour explosion. Hints of orange peel blend with that barnyard mustiness, some leather notes and slight lemon rind bitterness. Slight brandy character comes through late which is not unpleasant, but a bit odd for the style. Might just be the rich sweetness emerging after the pleasant and decently funky mid. Yeah, a decent saison palate, rich and 'off' in the right places.
Nice foamy, sedimenty texture, quite dry on the back but a little bit of a sting on the tongue. Good for style, but doesn't make me feel wonderful.
A complex and tasty beer that still manages to retain drinkability. It's been a while since I had a Belgian saison so this was a welcome back for an old friend.
74 / 100
Pours a slightly cloudy dusky golden colour, with a big and frothy head of white foam that just stays on and on and on. decent lacing, although perhaps not as impressive as it could have been given the head. Overall a very nice looking beer.
Slight funk on the nose, very organic, with a big whiff of wheat characters. Slight bite to it as well, possibly acidity, possibly fruity hops, something slightly phenolic about it. Bit medicinal in places. Quite interesting.
Taste is initially sharp, with a singular hop bite on the front, which coalesces into a raw organic character juggernauting its way through the centre of the palate. Finish is slightly tart and slightly medicinal, with some menthol characters popping their way out on the back. It feels pretty rough and rugged, and the fine tingling carbonation keeps the palate active for a long time. Very interesting palate, but not one that I found particularly approachable.
An odd beer all up, this one. It has a lot of wild notes to it, and a lot of almost keller-like phenolic character. It's sharp and drinkable, if a bit too untamed for many palates.
71 / 100
Pours a cloudy dark orange golden colour, with a maassively crackly and frothy head of white foam. It's like great chunky clouds rising in sculpted pinnacles in the glass. Lacing is really excellent, and sits on the edges of the glass in clumps of beautiful webbing. Some sediment in the body but otherwise looks really nice. Really wild, hearty and boisterous.
Huge funky notes on the nose - lilts of green apple, blue-veined cheese, and odd herbal notes of basil and capsicum. Some musty cellar characters as well. It's really nice - a suitable funk like some of the best Belgian examples - minimal acidity, but good barnyard. In fact, it's a rather different sort of aroma to what you usually get in a Saison, but I like the uniqueness.
Taste is clear, but a little too phenolic. Sharp notes of acetone come through the centre of the palate, which is otherwise quite round and smooth. Again, little acidity, and the funkiness besides the musty phenols in quite absent. Marzipan. Finish is quite round - a little acidity would have finessed the whole into something greater. Mouthfeel is very crisp and enjoyable.
I'm afraid I didn't like this as much as I feel I should have. I fear the slightly higher ABV may have harmed it - a saison feels like it should be a lighter style, not something that needs to be upped. Not bad, but I've had far, far better Saisons.
Pours an orange-tinged yellow colour with voluminous beige head, sinking slowly but steadily, forming fairly sparse bubbling around the glass, and not leaving a lot of lace. Specks here and there but little more. Nice haze in the body with some floaties. Looks alright.
Nose is fairly pungent. A fair sour character with some fresh fruit and some notes of soil, lemon zest, some egg character even, like notes of cake batter. Kind of savoury, with sourness around the edge. Doesn't really wow me, but it does intrigue me. It's simple but enigmatic, and smells fairly refreshing.
Taste is really very sweet for the most part. Lots of cakey malt on there, plus some spicy notes of nutmeg and white pepper. A fair amount of fruit, I'd say orange juice and zest primary amongst them, with a nice tang peak on the mid-palate leading into a finish which has a nice hint of alcohol and some woody hints, pine resin and some herbs, like parsley and rosemary, and God, I don't know, the flavours here are quite unusual. There's a lot of complexity but no flavours really leap out. I guess orange is predominant, with some spice and maybe Benedictine liqueur. Probably the most liqueury beer I've had, quite heavy on the finish. Basically it's an interesting one but doesn't have a classic saison profile, it's too heavy, a little too sweet and not nearly enough funk. Maybe more accessible but I don't really care that much for it.
Fairly thick feel, with a nice foamy texture, a distinct alcohol warmth throughout, well-suited to the flavour but again not what I'd really expect from a saison.
The more I drink, the more I like this, but the alcohol is quite prominent for just 7.4%. I hate to repeat myself, but it just doesn't wow me as a saison. I hate to repeat myself, but it just doesn't wow me as a saison.
Pours an orange-gold colour, quite pale with a large amount of haze in the glass. Some off-white head sticks around fairly well and sinks leaving a decent coating of lace around. Oh yeah, that's a saison alright.
Nose also very typical of the style, lots of barnyard aroma with a strong fresh leather smell and a large citrus tang with a distinct orange peel character. Actually quite citric, but a nice saisony funk behind it. Pretty decent.
Fresh citrus and pineapple up front provide a pleasant fruity flavour, then descends into a fair funky mid-palate with touches of leather and lucerne. Fruit returns towards the back, overripe in a sweet and sour kind of way, then trails off. Taste is kind of dull for the most part though, almost like the 'funk' (which is pretty good) smothers the other flavours. There's a potential florid fruit on the palate that gets hidden under the barnyard flavour, and the whole thing ends up a bit weak, without the complexity it could otherwise have enjoyed. A bit weak on the mack, a kind of mild sour lemon note. Not bad, but could have been better.
Lots of texture on the feel - possibly too much, has an almost harsh astringency and acidity to it. Interesting but not delightful.
Certainly drinkable, although the watery sour back is a letdown. A decent saison from a country not renowned for brewing them.
75 / 100
Pours a very nice cloudy golden yellow, with some depth. The white head is initially boisterous and frothy, becoming slightly filmy as it dissipates. Looks pretty good. The colour and body in particular are nice.
Some light herbal aromas on the nose with a hint of slight barnyard funk and a light citric acidity. Bit of meaty Belgian yeast coming through as well, which provides some solidity to the beer. A pretty good representation of the profile of the style.
Taste is light, with some nice rustic grain notes and a clean phenolic bitterness on the back, that reminds me somewhat of the phenols on a biere de garde, I guess it's closing in on that style too. Backing it up is a pleasant Belgian yeast buttery sweetness. Overall, it's pretty crisp and pretty true for the style. The mouthfeel is slightly overcarbonated.
A very drinkable saison, and a very good example of the style. Stylistically very true, possibly one of the most Belgian-like saisons I've had from outside Belgium. A little more acidity on the palate would be nice, and they could ramp up the wild notes, but its very crisp and enjoyable as it is, as well as being extremely drinkable on a summer's day.
75 / 100
Thanks to BA lacqueredmouse for sharing this bottle. Having drunk it before he suspects this bottle may have been off - but since I still enjoyed it I'm posting this review anyway. In the future you will not see this review because I will have re-reviewed with a fresh bottle.
Pours a sickly orange colour, translucent and day-glo in the body - a huge haze with some sediment chunks floating around in there. Head is small, leaves a ring of bubbles around the top, plus trails of off-white sticky lace. Looks like an interesting glob of unfiltered heaven.
Nose is hugely tart with a big lemon juice aroma and a big whiff of hay, a hint of leather, and some pineapple aroma as well. In fact smells a bit like slightly off pineapple, when it's begun to ferment. Very sweet overall, a lot of complexity lurking behind it though, excellent saison nose.
Tastes very fruity for the most part, with a lot of pineapple, guava and mango (!!) on the front. Turns slightly funky towards the mid with a decent barnyard kind of flavour, hints of camel and off fruit. Sour for the most part, but with an earthy soil edge, and not puckering. Finish though is tragically lacking - the palate really just sort of drops off, or fizzles out, with a slight lemon squash flavour lingering. A bit of grassiness at the back but it really finishes weakly, which is such a shame because it starts promisingly indeed.
Quick slick on the feel, but fairly full, goes down a bit slowly and with effort. Interesting, definitely, there's always something happening in the mouth.
Absolutely and utterly inoffensive beer. Pleasant, even.
I can't wait to re-try this with a fresher bottle :)
69 / 100
Had on tap at the brewery.
Golden colour, small white bubbly head, sinks slowly and leaves small specks of lace. Some carbonation, but why can I see it? Too clear! Really doesn't look like a saison. Are they filtering it into these kegs?
Nose is a lot better. Lots of tang and a bit of barnyard dirty funk. Lots of leather with a mandarin aroma as well, some grapefruity and a slightly salty edge. Some grain on there, but yeah, much funk. Pretty nice, really.
Taste is very Saisony. Tangy at first, with a hint of pineapple and gooseberry, then very funky with a healthy hit of barnyard flavour - soil and the sensation you get when walking through a camel enclosure. Hint of sherbet as well, and some sour vinous notes towards the back. Good, interesting palate. Nice refreshing tang and good complex profile.
Mouthfeel another letdown, I think possibly a side-effect of the lack of haze - for whatever reason that is, a bit thin, just lacks the chewiness I expect from a saison.
Good drinking overall though. If it had the murky sediment I expected this could have been something, Charlie. It could have been a contender.
Had on tap at the brewery.
Clear (!) and I don't know why, golden appearance, with slow bubbling. Minimal white head that leaves some decent lacing as it sinks slowly. Lace is nice, but for a farmhouse ale I don't know why there's no haze in the brew.
Nose is very grassy, incredibly so in fact, with a very large lucerne aroma and some light hints of bread. Light and organic, but simple and underwhelming for the senses.
Taste is slightly watery at the front, then gets a bit sweet and malty unexpectedly, with a hint of brown sugar on the mid. Slight vinous edge with a mild rubber or leather character providing the only typical farmhouse ale character. Enough to save it, but it still lags behind as a mediocre offering for the style.
Mouthfeel is a bit thin, but has a bit of body as it goes down. Actually not badly suited to the flavour.
Drinks OK, but I maintain it's not a great farmhouse ale. Actually find it a bit lacking on tap.
Pours a dirty brown colour with a tinge of pink. Almost puce but more pale. Very cloudy opaque body with large cream-coloured head of visible bubbles. Sinks quite quickly, crown sticks around. Lacing is decent and speckled. Looks pretty nice.
Fairly sour on the nose with some dried citrus peel and some hints of light cinnamon spice. A hint of baked vegetables, pumpkin and sweet potato on there. Sweet edge, but distinct sour funk hints. Lacking a bit of barnyard character that I'd expect, nice aroma but not up there in power and complexity with other saisons.
Taste starts quite syrupy with a strong apricot flavour, then hijacked by a nice influx of sour barnyard funk character. Bitter in parts with some grain feed and a big tobacco character. Trails off quite ashy on the palate, with hints of an acerbic metallic flavour. Overall has a good saison character, but the harshness of the finish reminds me why I'm not in love with this style.
Mouthfeel is very thick and syrupy with an interesting granulated texture. Good unfiltered feel.
Goes down alright, just a bit off-putting on the finish.
38 / 100
Pours a bright orange-gold colour, like pumpkin skin. Head is initially firm and fine, but dissipates after a while to a collar of small white bubbles around the rim. Some reasonable lacing, and a small amount of streaming carbonation. Looks ok.
Rather timid nose. Some hints of cherry candy, dried orange rind, plastic and perhaps a very faint herbal funk to it. "Funk" is probably overstating it for a Saison - certainly doesn't have the wild musty aromas associated with the style. Not bad, but could be a lot better.
Initial hints of cherry are noticeable; no sweetness, perhaps the tang of fruit you'd get by eating cherry stems or pips. This is then pummeled by the rather phenolic bitterness, like chewed herbs, an unfortunate spicy character that doesn't do the cherry any favours. Ends up with a bitter cherry skin flavour, leaving a bad taste in the mouth. Mouthfeel is crisp but thin.
No, this doesn't work for me at all. It's a mish-mash of conflicting flavours that aren't even that pleasant in isolation. Tastes phenolic, higher in alcohol (and more noticeable) than it actually is, and with neither the elements of a good saison, nor those of a good cherry beer.
Bridge Road's Saison de Coing does fruit-infused saison much better. This is rather unpalatable, verging on offensive.
80 / 100
Served to me blind by laituegonflable.
Pours a hazy pale golden colour, with a very decent bead of carbonation streaming up to a massively full and rocky head of just off-white foam. Head is really excellent, and overall, it's a pretty fantastic looking brew.
Delicious nose, very tropical, with luscious sweetness, and a dry cut grass aroma to split it a little. Very nice. It's not as powerful as a really robust hop-bomb, but the characters on this are very pleasant. (Initially served clear without agitating the sediment - with the yeast, we get some barnyard floor kind of funk that wasn't present when it was clear).
Taste is also a little subdued, but very pleasantly so. I was expecting a sharp thrust of bittering hops through the centre of the palate (given the tropical notes on the nose), but the bitterness is quite restrained, and the fruit notes and clean grassy characters have a chance to express themselves as well. Finish is round and smooth, cleansing, but not particularly dry (with the yeast, it goes a tad phenolic - adds a rustic character that is more true to style) - I feel like it carresses my mouth into accepting the next sip. Yep. I like this a lot.
Just delicious. Smooth, clean, but with lots of full rounded funk characters and a very welcome hop addition. Absolutely, supremely drinkable. I had to stop myself from draining the glass in one pull. A very fine brew.
76 / 100
Pours a slightly orange-tinged gold with very frothy off-white head, bubbles are fairly visible and webbed, and sinks in a beautiful melting-marshmallow style, leaves tinges of lacing around. Quite hazy as well, with healthy bead.
Nose is fairly fresh and organic, with some lucerne character and some pineapple esters as well. Good dose of mildly sour funk. Not excessively complex, but everything present and accounted for.
Taste is a nice fresh one, nice and complex palate. Some sour, resiny notes on the front give way to some pleasant bitter and hoppy flavours, blended well with some fresh fruit characters - mango and pineapple on there. A big rubber sensation, great deal of that, with a fair amount of barnyard funk and a carrot flavour as well. A bit of a metallic character on the back which leaves a slightly acerbic hang, almost like a corked wine. Allover a nice blend though, fairly light and fruity with good saison characters.
Beautifully textured feel - full-bodied but smooth with a great earthy feel. Wonderful.
Very pleasant and drinkable beer. Thirst-quenching and refreshing. Shame about the aftertaste which is the one downer to an otherwise great drop.
Pours a burnished brown colour, too clear for a saison. Not sure about the clarity at all. Head is modest and sinks quite quickly. Lacing is very decent, sticky and thick. Not much bead, ultimately looks good, but would expect it lighter and more hazy.
Nose is pleasant, with a rich caramel malt blending with some funky earth tones, some sour citrus and a hint of soil. Maybe a copper aroma as well, ultimately a pleasant mélange of fragrance, sweet with some odd funk to keep you interested.
Taste is yeah, nicely funky. A lot of sour barnyard flavours that blend actually a bit uncomfortably with the biscuity malt, hints of natural wood, bacon and a fig character, and then a big metallic hit on the back. Slightly dirty finish, organic and metallic.
Mouthfeel is smooth but textured, a little bit sticky, and with an odd sediment on the back which isn't really apparent in the flavour, you can just feel it.
Fairly drinkabe but a bit too dark and sticky for everyday quaffing.
59 / 100
Nice 750ml capped bottle, shared with laituegonflable.
Pours a deep amber colour, slightly cloudy with a decent, if slightly small head of white foam. Lacing is good, and the head looks quite creamy, it has to be said. The colour's too dark for a Saison to my mind, and it looks a bit still in the glass, otherwise, not too bad.
Light resin and pine on the nose, with a note of oak and a little crushed vegetation. Hint of bready yeast, but very little funk or acidity. It's not a great nose, and it's certainly far from a saison. I can't say I'm overly enamoured of it.
Taste is a little better, with a clean fresh character and a very faint note of tartness. Some coppery bitterness on the back, and just a whiff of alcohol. Body is thin, not too bad a character in a saison, although the thin body and the heat don't mesh well.
I can't say I'm overly enamored of this. It's neither a particularly interesting nor a particularly true to style saison. While there's things to enjoy in it, they just seem so out of kilter with what one expects in the style. Not impressed overall.
71 / 100
Nice cloudy appearance, almost opaque, with a healthy off-white head that just sits defiantly. Pale orange-yellow in colour, can't see any carbonation and doesn't really leave lace from the head, although forms sheets of clingy foam further down the glass. Looks very pleasant.
Nose is pleasant, organic and spicy. Big overripe banana whiff and a vibrant peppery aroma as well. Hints of cumin, fennel and clove are evident in what is really a dominating spicy nose. Slightly tart fruit characters are relegated but present enough to lend some buoyancy to the proceedings.
Taste has a remarkably weizeny character at first, with a piquant clove blending with sweet banana flavours on the front. Mid-palate starts to turn sour, with an earthy funk character that seeps through with elements of white wine vinegar, green vegetables and a mild soil character. Finish is reasonably long, with some nice organic bitterness lingering towards the back, quite clean and leaves an enjoyable aftertaste.
Mouthfeel is foamy and slightly chewy, does feel thin at first but there's enough going on to lower the care factor about it. This is a crisp, enjoyable brew, slightly lacking on the complexity front but very smooth and drinkable as a result.
73 / 100
Nice thick-glassed green 750ml champagne bottle, caged and corked.
Lovely cloudy orange gold colour, with a big, boisterous and funky head of white foam, billowing up and almost over the rim of my tulip. Some sticky lacing. Looks wild, organic and wonderful. What more could I have hoped for in a saison?
Pleasant lightly funky and herbaceous notes on the nose, a little wood, leaf mulch, and Belgian yeast. Very nice notes, although they don't overwhelm. Very organic, with clear Belgian notes.
Clean and crisp on the palate, with a slight gritty bitterness at the back, that mellows to a sweeter Belgian ale funk. This final note is the most true to style note - this one is noticeably more bitter than any other saison I've had. It's quite full of a really straight and sharp noble hop bitterness. The back note grounds it a little more stylistically, but it's still a little off.
Mouthfeel is pleasantly crisp, adding to the refreshment of the beer, but again, like the taste, I prefer a bit more roundness in my saisons.
Still, I'm pleased this isn't just a straight clone of the standard Dupont Saison. It's a very refreshing and drinkable beer, and I wouldn't turn down another. I just have slightly different expectations for a saison.
71 / 100
A very cloudy apple juice colour, with suspended flecks of orange, which tend to coalesce in the bottom of the glass. Some head but quite filmy. Lacing is ok though, a light sudsy patterning on the glass.
Nose is spicy and fruit-sweet, not unlike apple pie. In fact that's pretty much exactly what it smells like, sweet but tart, not a lot of notes from the saison. Certainly no barnyard funk. But its nice all the same.
Nice. There's a hint of funk on the palate, and the continuing sweet apple pie character from the quinces. Some bitterness on the very end cleans it up, and the lingering clove note seals the deal. Very smooth, although there's a note of phenols on the very end that skews it a bit. Otherwise very nice.
This is a very drinkable beer, and a wildly unique style. I have to say overall I approve a lot. I just wish there was a bit more saison funk, and a little less candied quince sweetness. Hooray for Aussie brewers doing something different!
87 / 100
Pours a pink grapefruit colour with a little bit of head at first, not just a white ring. Insanly hazy, thin but decent lacing. Looks very interesting, to say the least.
Very nice sour aroma, a lot of fruit, I assume it's quince although I'm not very familiar with that particular fragrance, seems kind of grapefruit-esque, with a distinct cinnamon fragrance and cloves as well, very spicy and sweet. That's damned nice, hell yeah.
Taste is very fruit, with a spicy cinnamon character behind it, flavours of apple and sugar cane, not much tartness really although the fruit character is fresh and tangy. Mouthfeel is nicely full and gritty with a lot of solid floaties adding a great unfiltered body to the fresh, organic flavours.
I'm digging this goddamn beer. What a great flavour - apple fruity, grainy, sweet and spicy. Four of my favourite food groups right there. This tastes great. Very refreshing and drinkable. I'm definitely a fan.
85 / 100
Pours a cloudy orange with slight brown tinge, such a slight tinge that it's practically just orange. Very cloudy, slight carbonation. Head is very, very thick and off-white, sinking pretty well but leaving a good lacing ring behind. Looks great, fantastic even.
Nose is quite organic, with a lot of herbal characters, green grape skin, hint of honey, very finely balanced though. Phenomenally well balance, tart and sweet and bitter are all there, very natural, funky herbal smell. Smells like a garden in spring time. A real treat.
Taste is quite sweet, with the honey being far more prominent, and the tart characters are more bitter, with a dirty, almost oxidised character. Tastes rather like a soil and champagne mix, with hints of orange, apricot, custard almost, and distinct herbs, like basil and rosemary. Hang is there, a bit tart, but otherwise very nicely balanced.
Mouthfeel is full, thick and sticky - very nice, and there is not a hint of the 8% alc/vol. Very, very drinkable. A shit-fucked good beer in fact. I like this so much I love it.
Appearance is amazing. Golden colour with amazing, thick frothy head, sinks slowly but retains bloody well. Somehow has sediment suspended in it in little flakes, as though trapped in jelly. There is still a bit of carbonation, and tilting the glass agitates the particles slightly. But seriously, that's really incredible. One of the most amazing beers I've ever stared at.
Nose is disappointing. Quite hoppy and funky, with almost a POR character on it and a distinct corn kind of aroma, sweet and quite naff, with a sweet honey character backing up. Bit of lemonade maybe? Soft and fluffy nose, can't say I like it very much.
Taste is far more potent and saisony than the nose, starts quite sweet and honey-esque, but then gets this amazing toasty bitterness crescendo. Flavour is quite intense in its increment, has a very burnt flavour to it, and still a kind of corn character, but in a robust, funky and interesting way. Hints of blood orange, umami and a slight buttery character combine to make an interesting, although intense and bitter flavour. Can't drink that by the gallonful, mouthfeel is a bit thick, not bad actually.
But overall, yeah I'm really not sure what to make of it. Pushes me away with one hand, draws me in with the other.
81 / 100
Very cloudy orange yellow, with a huge and boisterous head of white bubbles. Lacing is thick and solid - it's hard to tell where the head finishes and the lacing begins. Minimal carbonation, but an excellent looking beer - really full and happy and exciting.
Lots of wonderful funk on the nose - hints of barnyard, wet leather, curucao, Belgian yeast and soaked grains. Very Belgian in character to my mind, plenty of that funky yeast, and it's pungent and rank as hell. Woohoo!
Taste is surprisingly smooth, with a thick, meaty character running throughout, and a light dry sweetness on the back. I can't believe how smooth this is, given the probable alcohol content and the rich aroma. The taste is just clean and pleasant, with a light phenolic character and a light tomato yeast note. Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth.
This is amazingly smooth and clean, and very refreshing, considering it has a pretty high alcohol content. I just love the flavours - plenty of funk, plenty of smoothness and plenty of deliciousness. Perhaps the smoothest Belgian beer I've ever tasted. Just wonderful.
79 / 100
Huge, very wild yeast induced head of white foam sits above a clear golden body, just full of static floaties, that sit like an optical illusion in the glass. Lacing is very funky an dextreme. The floaties are the most memorable part of the beer, and I have to say I approve heartily. This is a unique and beautiful brew.
Lots of funk on the nose - big notes of barnyard, wet straw, sweet citrus, phenolic spirits, grass and sharp hops. The funk is particularly noticeable on this one, lots of what would otherwise be considered "off" notes. Just completely wild and funky. Just what a Saison's about.
Very smooth entry on the palate, all the funk sits around the edges, suggesting all the rustic notes. But the palate in general is smooth, with a fresh phenolic alcohol heat sharpening the sensations. It's like a heavier, more grown up version of their regular Saison. Lots of boozy notes, which tend to accentuate all the classic rustic notes. I approve.
Slightly less drinkable than their original Saison, but more sophisticated and more complex. I prefer the amazing refreshment that a good funky saison gives you, but this is still an excellent beer. I'm phenomenally pleased that it's possible to find this in Australia.
93 / 100
Pours a very pleasant cloudy gold colour, with hints of orange at the deepest parts of the glass. An initially frothy head of white foam dissipates to a film, but leaves some remarkably good lacing. Very fine looking Saison.
Deliciously funky nose, lots of citric acidity, and an undeniable cheese note reminding us of the rustic nature of this beer. Quite sour and funky, but with quite a weight behind it. Deliciously unrefined.
Oh wow, what an incredible palate. A delicate line is drawn between acidity, funk and bitterness. Lightly sour entry, with a lingering melon character, that is nicely paired with a light raw bitterness, finessed with a conclusion of light fruits and dry copper. Finish is dry and crisp, but with a final reminder of those wonderful fruity characters, and a tingling hint of sea salt. So much that is unique and wonderful is going on in this brew. To get it all so perfectly balanced is an astounding miracle.
Hell yes! This is an absolutely stunning saison - the best I've yet had. You can see the raw, funky and dirty genesis of the style, but this one weaves all those characters into something greater. I need not mention that the perfect clarity on the palate makes this amazingly refreshing and drinkable. Ambrosia!
81 / 100
Uncorks without much encouragement, leaving a lovely cascade of carbon dioxide running down the sides of the bottle. Pours a hazy yellow gold colour, with a lovely, frothy, crackling head of white foam. Loose-bubbled though it is, it sticks around for quite a while. Nice.
Nice sweet lemon citrus, funk and grassy organics on the nose, lots of pleasant acidity to create a thoroughly refreshing aroma. Some light yeast notes come through as the head collapses, grounding the beer a little more. Very nice indeed.
Gritty organic bitterness on the palate, initially sharp, but with that sweet citric note coming through on the rear. Very clean and crisp. Sparkling and effervescent, which adds some great refreshing notes to the brew.
Clean, crisp and refreshing. A pleasure to drink, and a fantastic alternative to cold pale lager for a summer beverage. The 7.5% might take hold after a while, though.
This is an excellent Saison. Once again, Ommegang truly do give the Belgians a run for their money.
48 / 100
Pale, mostly golden in appearance. Creamy head, very good retention. EDIT: Make that, VERY good retention. The head sticks around long after the beer underneath it has been drunk. Cloudy appearance with a few floaties. No real lacing but head clings for dear life to glass. Not that it needs to, that head could withstand anything. I'd say that's about the most impressive head I've ever seen.
Nose is very metallic and hoppy. There is a strong iron or steel character with a slight grainy character lingering ever-so-slightly at the back. It's quite nice but there isn't all that much more to it.
Quite weizeny on the palate with that wheaty, banana character. Surprising really since there is nothing of the sort in it. Surprisingly bitter on the finish, a lot of hops coming through following that light, wheaty flavour. This leaves me, to be honest, with a really quite sinking, heavy feeling because it feels over-hopped without enough rich barley malt to balance, and the mouthfeel is a bit clunky. Taste is pleasant enough but it's quite heavy-going. I wouldn't call this a sessioning beer. I quite respect this, but I don't like it all that much, unfortunately.
79 / 100
Tapered 375ml green bottle, caged and cork. Cork comes out with a satisfying "thunk", leaving a little wisp of released carbon dioxide.
Cloudy pale straw body, with a deliciously foaming head of rocky white bubbles. Small amounts of tiny bead swelling up the sides of the glass. Looks very tasty.
Wonderful organic skunkiness on the nose - earthy mulch, straw, and a floral note of fresh crushed lemon myrtle. Underlying this is the classic Belgian yeast character, giving a sweet sweaty, tomato kind of smell. Just a wonderful nose, and so different to many other styles of beer. Very pleasant indeed.
Nice entry, slightly sour, with a gritty yeast backbone. Mellows later to a bittersweet floral note, with even a hint of pepper or spice. Finishes very dry, and what with the sour character lingering around the back of your mouth leaves it amazingly refreshing. Mouthfeel is great, a wonderful sparkling effervescence which just plays perfectly with the sour characters on the palate.
What a wonderful drop of beer, surely one of the most drinkable and refreshing brews I've ever tasted. A truly delectable and extremely tasty beer. Wonderful.
45 / 100
Pours a very slightly hazy gold colour, with masses of streams of fine carbonation. The huge lines of bubbles are easily the most prominent aspect of the beer. Big frothy ultra-fine head of white foam. Looks like a fine beer.
Light wheaty, barnyard and spice characters on the nose. Hint of hefeweizen to it, a bit of fresh herbal characters and perhaps some cut grass. Pretty nice, pretty fragrant.
Unfortunately, the palate is a major let down. Thin, insipid maize or rice lager sweetness with a very faint hint of dirty, dusty bitterness. Very short, the only deposit it leaves is a vague yeast bite on the back palate. Mouthfeel is quite smooth, which is a plus, but given the rather insipid and unpleasant flavour, it doesn't have a lot to work with.
A disappointment - this could well have been a promising beer given the fragrant nose - but it's just a major let down on the flavour side of things, leaving it as a very insipid beer to drink.