Posts Tagged saison

Power to the Brewers!

Yellow Springs Pano During our New Year’s trip to Ohio, we went to Yellow Springs Brewery. This super small industrial warehouse was off a side street you would have had to be looking for to find. A standard industrial building of painted white brick on the outside (with accompanying food truck), it had yellow and orange walls inside on one side with grey cinder block on the other. There was an art exhibition going on with the art on the walls, which left painfully little room to navigate. The tasting counter at the back had corrugated metal behind it. The brewing area was to the left behind a windowed wall with a door. Tasting tables were strewn throughout, seemingly haphazardly. There also appeared to be no real system to the line, with people backed up into the entrance to the place.

Bloodsmoke Barrel Aged Imperial RedMy first sample of Yellow Springs product was the Bloodsmoke Barrel Aged Imperial Red (11% abv). This tasty concoction poured deep red in color, with thin, sudsy head. It smelled malty and sweet, with a hint of dark fruit. The taste threw all the sweetness up front, with a load of malts and some fruitiness. Light-medium body and light carbonation did little to clear the sweetness, but it was still not overpowering. It finished slightly sticky sweet and malty, with a bit of fruit trailing. Despite the sugar load, I enjoyed this one.

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Next, I got myself the Birkensocks Amber Saison (5.5% abv). This one poured cloudy red-orange, with sudsy white head. It smelled slightly sour, but that was about it. There was nothing else to distinguish the aroma. The taste was mild and tart, followed by some yeasty, bready flavor up front and a touch of fruit that could have been citrus. Light in both body and carbonation, this beer finished somewhat sticky and tart, with some fruitiness trailing.

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Framework Stout Nitro

Yes, that is Cards Against Humanity on the table to accompany our drinks

I finished the evening at the brewery with the Framework Stout Nitro (6.1% abv). This one poured black, with surprisingly thin brown head. It had very mild, bitter chocolate on the nose. The taste was just as mild. There was a chocolaty bitterness up front, with some roasted malts into the middle. It had medium-heavy body, light carbonation and finished very chocolaty and bitter. A bit too much chocolate for one beer.

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Something Fishy Going on Here

SPBrewing PanoSouth Park is a great place: small-town neighborhood, tree-lined streets, friendly people…and beer; really tasty beer. South Park Brewing Company (SPBC) is a brewery run by locals that truly love the craft of brewing beer. On a recent visit, the place had a kind of industrial fish house vibe, with large, butcher/deli-style display cases to the left and support columns wrapped in rigging rope. There were large round tables and long low picnic tables to the left, with a couple of booths on the far left wall. The brewing area was prominently displayed to the right, fronted by a tasting counter. Outside there was a narrow patio, with a counter overlooking the sidewalk and street beyond.

Never one to waste an opportunity to try some beer I had never had before, I headed for the counter. The beer list did not include abv, so naturally I decided on a flight, starting with the SPBC Saison. It poured bright, very pale yellow, opaque and had a thin layer of smooth white head on top. It smelled light and faintly of lemon. I could not detect any other aromas. The taste was just as light, with smooth maltiness up front, followed by some zesty lemon. Light in both carbonation and body, there was not much else to characterize this beer. It did finish citrusy and was refreshing, but nothing very dynamic here.

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Next, I tried the SPBC 2 Griffs Pale. This one poured light amber in color, with thin loose white head on top. I detected almost nothing to distinguish the aromas. The taste was very malt forward, but not overpowering. Light hops helped balance it going in to the middle. Light carbonation and medium body helped this beer finish smooth and malty, with just a hint of hops toward the end. This one was also not very dynamic, but I appreciated the balance.

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Next up, I tried the SPBC Lime In Da Coconut Wheat. It poured pale cloudy yellow, with thin white head. I smelled some malty and citrusy aromas. Lime was prominent from the first sip, with some very faint coconut leading into the middle of the drink. Lightly carbonated and light bodied, it finished with strong lime and some maltiness. A bit too much lime for me on this one.

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I finished up the flight with the SPBC Scripps Pier Oyster Stout. This beer poured black, with thin brown head on top that did not stick around long. It smelled somewhat saline, joined by some roasted malt aromas. The taste was briny at first, but then some of the roasted malts came through. The salt came back almost immediately, however. Light carbonation and medium-heavy body helped mask some of the saltiness, but it finished with lots of salinity and a touch of coffee that was not present earlier. A bit too much salt for me, but still good.

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Popperings Golden HommelbierI was going to stop there, but naturally, I saw one on the menu I could not pass up: Popperings Golden Hommel. I had no idea what this beer was when I ordered it, but apparently it is a hoppy, golden-bronze, ale. Always up for a good mystery, I dove in. It poured light clear yellow, with thin fizzy head. Spicy and fruity aromas surprised me a bit for something billed as ‘hoppy.’ It tasted somewhat sour at first, with a bit of citrus and some sweetness that I assumed was from the fruit. Medium bodied and lightly carbonated, the beer finished a little sweet and malty, with just a touch of sourness. Great dynamics in this one, from both the smell and the taste.

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It Was an OK Day At Sea

I recently found occasion to go back to Ballast Point to sample more of their ever-expanding list of experimental beers. As usual, they did not disappoint. Starting with the always good Sculpin on nitro (7% abv), this beer poured golden in color, with thick creamy white head. I detected sour and mild malty aromas with only some hoppiness. The taste was mild and light. Hoppy and creamy up front, it was light in body and carbonation, mostly due to the nitro. It finished smooth with some sourness and hoppiness. Not a lot going on with this beer, but a good everyday drinker.

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A little out of order, next up was Homework #5 Hoppy Belgian Ale (5.2% abv). This one poured rich golden-yellow as well, but with only a thin layer of white head. Sour smell at the front and somewhat sweet aromas at the back. It tasted malty sweet at first, then smooth into the middle. With light-medium body, it finished hoppy and mild. An adequate beer, but nothing really to hold my interest for very long.

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Ballast Flight

Then I tried the Sea Turtle Saison (abv not available, as they were too quick with the eraser after they ran out) made with green tea and mint: It poured a pale opaque golden color, with loose white head that did not stick around long. It smelled sour and tart, with some fruit aromas coming around the end. It tasted sour and effervescent up front, with a touch of hoppiness. The middle was light and smooth, finishing equally as light and smooth. There was not nearly the amount of dynamic, if delicate, flavor profile I expected from this one. Sure, I could blame it on the two prior tasters, but I thought this one was a little lacking. Points for effort, however.

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Lastly, I tried the one I was most afraid would taste like fruit juice, but had to try because it was from a cask: Tart Wahoo with hibiscus and lime (7% abv): It poured the color of cranberry juice, with lots of fizzy bright white head. Tart berry aromas dominated the smell, as expected. It tasted super tart from the start. With virtually no carbonation, despite the copious fizz on the pour, it was light. There was no real discernible taste through the middle of the drink, but finished a little sweet and tart. This was probably not one I would get again and, from the full glasses of folks around me who had already been there a while, I was not alone in this assessment.

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Abbey Road South

Abbey pano

No, not the Beatles album from 1969… This was a craft beer purveyor in the South Park neighborhood of San Diego that billed itself as a pub. I don’t know if it necessarily met my personal definition of “pub,” but it was a cool place. Laid out in an L-shape, this relatively small bar/eatery sat at the intersection of the two main streets in town. It was fronted with large windows and roll-up doors, with tap handles hanging from the ceiling above. A small three-sided bar was located toward the back, with lots of mostly low-top tables in between the bar and the front door. Three TVs and a large projection screen adorned the little wall space that remained. Off to the left was a pool table and to the right outside was a small, narrow patio that faced the street away from the front door.

Craftsman saisonI had one beer while I was here: Craftsman Fireworks Saison (6.5% abv). This beer poured oddly dark, as most other saisons I had ever had were very light in color, with light white head. Aromas were malty sweet with a slight sourness and some fruitiness that I could not identify. It tasted malty sweet at first, then some fruit that tasted like melons and raisins came through in the middle. Light body and lightly carbonated, it finished somewhat sweet, with a touch of tartness to keep things interesting.

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KnB 5 Anniversary

Test batch tasterLast Thursday I went to my friendly neighborhood brewery/bar KnB Wine Cellars. I’ve written about them before and I continue to love this place more each time I go. This time I went for the third day of their 4 day long 5-year anniversary celebration. To commemorate this day they were tapping 3 of their own test batches, along with some new menu items. Since I love everything that I’ve tried on their regular menu (so far), I was pretty excited to try anything new they had to offer and they did not disappoint. Come along and let me take you on a little journey…

First up, I ordered a Figueroa Mountain Davy Brown (6% abv). This has a smooth, creamy head, with a medium-dark color. The taste is nutty and creamy, with light hints of caramel and a noticeable caramel aftertaste.

Next I wanted to try each of their KnB Test Batch beers, #3, #4 and #5. I didn’t get to try #1 or #2, which appear to have been IPAs (here is the only “review” of #2 I was able to find). I wanted to start low to high on the alcohol content and still be sober enough to enjoy them. I thought the best way to do this would be to order their beer flight sampler, which is pictured above.

I started the sampler with Test Batch #4, which was a saison (8.1% abv). This beer is a dark yellow, cloudy and very fizzy. The head loosely laces the glass and doesn’t stick around long. The characteristic sour smell of this beer may be off putting to some, but I found it kind of refreshing. Also, the sour taste of lemon and grapefruit, with a little peach mixed in was pretty good. The tart aftertaste stuck around a while and while it was not unpleasant, I felt like heartburn was likely. Surprisingly, it didn’t happen.

Then I went to Test Batch #3, an American strong ale (9.0% abv). A dark burnt orange and semi opaque, I was really looking forward to this beer. I waited too long to get to this one and the head had all but disappeared, but that didn’t seem to take away from the taste at all. It had a semi-sweet, very rich flavor. Its high alcohol content was really apparent cutting through after the initial sweetness. The aftertaste was about the same, though I was feeling the effects of the alcohol by then, so it may have just clouded my taste buds.

Next, I tried the Test Batch#5, an imperial stout (11.2% abv). This was super dark, with a semi-sweet, sugary smell. I again waited too long (20 mins) to get a good look at the full head, but what was left held lightly to glass. The taste was very rich and sweet, with brown sugar and mild spice (cinnamon?). The heavy, sweet aftertaste of caramel was appropriate for such a big beer, but in the end, the sweetness was just a bit overpowering for me.

I was going to stop there, but there was a Shipyard Smasher Pumpkin (9.0% abv) right there on the menu, taunting me. I couldn’t help myself. This beauty poured a surprisingly bright orange color, with an off-white, medium creamy head. It smelled sweet and spicy, with a noticeable pumpkin aroma. It had a very creamy feel to it and tasted a bit creamy as well. I could easily pick out brown sugar, pumpkin, cloves, a little cinnamon- pretty much pumpkin pie in a glass. The cinnamon aftertaste with some brown sugar and clove finished the beer nicely.

I should point out that while I don’t pretend to be a professional, or even experienced beer reviewer, I am able to pick out certain common elements. I may not always use the “correct” terms, but I hope it’s apparent that I do love and truly appreciate beer. Which beers are you most excited about?

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