Friday, July 30, 2010

The Brutal Truth: Don's vintage Saison

Heh heh... yet again, another one on the chopping block. Comando Don brings us one of his babies in the form of Saison. A* vintage* Saison. To the tune of about 18months old, he tells me. Yikes! But isn't this one of those beers you're supposed to drink young, fresh.. like, right NOW after brewing? Sure, typically. But you know Don.. he's always been a bit slow, and thus his delivery took the better part of, well.. the amount of time I've probably known him! Damn, kid! Anyway, here's a pic:

And, crazy as this sounds, he also brought the original recipe! Not KFC, but Antique Saison! Dig it:

In the bottle, it's a standard bottle conditioned thing, appropriately filled and looks good. It pours into the glass (in this case, my standard Dogfish 22oz snifter) as a orangey-ish, brilliantly clear beer. The head is present, stil there now about 10 minutes in, and persistent, but not 'rocky' as one might expect. It's laving a clinging lace, though.. dig that, Sarah? Belgian lace. Appearance: I'm thinking 3/3. It looks good, and that's what appearance is about.

In the nose, I'm getting a nice, but light, orange hint, and it took me a minute to place this, but black pepper. A smarter man would have looked at the original recipe first, but I'm trying to do this without the recipe first to see what I detect, and we'll look at the recipe later. There is a definite sweetness in the arome still, and it's delicious.  Aroma: 8/12 This could be a better score here, because the smells are all right, but they're not *big* enough, I think. Keep in mind, this beer is a bit old.. things have faded, I'm sure. 

In flavor, a zingy attack on the tip of the tongue is the first things noticed. The next thing you get is a big black pepper taste. Now I'm certain there's black pepper in here. It's almost exactly like my own, just recently kicked keg of black pepper pale ale. I really liked that beer, and I'm really liking this beer now, too. I'm also picking up a hint of that same orange peel flavor too. I wanna say there's another, underlying spice in here as well, but the pepper is crushing the life out it, it and I can't tell what it is. It's giving a layering effect to this beer, adding complexity, so I appreciate it's presence. There's a distinct bitterness, but I'm losing all traces of the hops that might once have lived here in actual flavor. This is an exceptionally made beer. I could drink this all day. I am not a fan of traditional, dry saisons however.. so I think the slight residual sweetness still left in this beer is boosting it up in my favor. I give this brew a 15 of 20. It's *that* good. 

Mouthfeel. Hmm.. highly carbonated is the beer I have in hand. It's got a definite medium body. The residual sugars that I like in the flavor work somewhat against it in this department though, as far as the descriptors go, though.  I'm thinking 3/5 is appropriate.

Overall, this is a very good beer. To score better, it needs to dry out a bit more, and be served fresher to perserve more of what hop character might have been in there earlier in it's life. At the end here, I'm actually getting a little stickiness stuck to my lips from the still existing sugars in here, which is out of character for a beer of this style. I'm thinking 7/10 is real. 

Total 36/50. Snap!

After effect:

OK, let's check the recipe. I know, I know.. you're saying "dude, you scanned the recipe, you must have loked at it already while doing this review.." Well, no. I didn't. We're looking now, though. According to this, it's an EXTRACT BEER! GAH! ;-) Kidding. It says he used Light DME for the base, mostly.. hmm. that might explain the residual sweetness and the remaining sugars, sure. More pilsner malt would probably help with this. The 60L crystal worked against him, too.. both in sugars and possibly the base color, if you wanted to get it a little closer to an accepted Saison color, which are typically a bit ligher that this. More interestingly, an English ale yeast was used for this. Snap! That'll kick your shin while trying to dry out a beer too.. so, change that up for a more highly attenuating Belgian variety, and this would probably have been a 40 pointer, in my book! There's that black pepper and Orange Peel I tasted.. but it was the Coriander I missed. 

Seriously, this is good stuff. Don, you got any left? Bring it to a Commando's meeting and let some others try this. Really nice!

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