The Left Hand Brewery in Longmont, Colorado opened for business on January 22, 1994. Started by college buddies Dick Doore and Eric Wallace, the idea first came to light when Dick received a home brewing kit from his brother in the early 1990’s. Their first attempt was Sawtooth Ale, which has since become Left Hand’s most popular brew. Today, Doore and Wallace make over 3 dozen beers, distributed in 29 states.
Pour: A light pinkish hue, with mild carbonation.
Head: Very thin and airy, disappears quickly without leaving anything behind.
Nose: Pretty standard farmhouse aromas, mostly wheat with a little fruit on the end.
Palate: Dry and crisp, lighter than one might expect. Not as much wheat from the nose, there is some hint of cherry on the end but very mild. Finish is clean with some acidity.
Overall: Much lighter than other Saisons I’ve had a lately. Not as much spice and would have enjoyed a little more fruit but still an easy summer sipper. A nice pairing with roasted chicken, Middle Eastern food or creamy style cheeses.
Terrapin has been making world class craft beers in Athens, Georgia since 2002. With a portfolio that boasts over three dozen beers, it is safe to say that Terrapin offers something for everyone!
Some of the biggest “twists” can be seen in their side project series, whose latest release #26 was the third annual employee homebrew challenge (peppercorn was named a required ingredient). The winning beer is intriguingly named Poivre Potion and is described as a Dry Hopped Imperial Pink Peppercorn Saison. Oui, oui – intriguing indeed!
The beer pours a clear golden straw color with orange highlights. The two finger fluffy white head settles rather quickly to a streaky and sporadic lacing. The lively carbonation of the beer is notable.
On the nose you get aromas of sweet stone fruits along with notes of citrus hops. Floral aromas can be found on the heels of the fruit notes and the citrus hop aromas build and become bigger aromas of grassy, earthy and piney hops. The peppercorn is also noticeable from the first whiff.
On the palate the sweet fruit notes hit first. The citrus from the nose is transformed on the palate into sweet tangerine and orange flavors. Earthy and funky Belgian notes are noticeable as the sweetness fades into the dryness of the beer. The finish is bone dry with a lingering pepper spice that adds complexity and really rounds out the beer nicely.
A great brew from the Terrapin employees who developed it, and a great choice from the four judges who picked Poivre Potion as the winner. The beer is well balanced and easy to drink but be careful, the 9.3 ABV is really well hidden. Try pairing this one with Parmesan, Angel Hair Pasta with Scallops and Arugula or black pepper pound cake with apricot sauce.
The Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4.0 Out of 5 Pints
DuClaw opened its first brewery in 1996 in Bel Air, Maryland. Since the late 90’s DuClaw has become a household name, with an extensive and elaborate portfolio of creative beers. One of their most recent releases is X10, a Saison brewed with cantaloupe.
The beer pours a clear bright straw yellow color. The thin white head shows some retention. Once the head dissipate a minimal amount of lacing remains. A steady stream of tiny bubbles in the glass display the robust carbonation.
Aromas of bright coriander and rich cloves are front and center. Sweet cantaloupe and a musky funk are also noteworthy. A hint of honeysuckle is met by a mild and fresh citrus note.
On the palate, sweet cantaloupe notes take the lead. The spicy clove and bright coriander from the bouquet are right on the heels of the cantaloupe. A funky yeasty note cuts both the spice and sweet melon, and a citrus bite adds complexity.
Another unique and refreshing brew from DuClaw. Try pairing this one with Jarlsberg, blackened shrimp or blueberry cobbler.
The Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 3.0 Out of 5 Pints
Lift Bridge Brewing Company is one of the few breweries that launched before the craft beer craze hit the Twin Cities, and now the Stillwater company is among a small handful making the transition into a regional player. Now available in New Jersey, exclusively at Bottle King, Lift Bridge offers four year round brews plus an impressive portfolio of seasonal and limited releases. One of their year round offerings is a Saison by the name of Farm Girl.
The beer pours a hazy pale straw yellow color. The thin white head dissipates quickly and leaves behind a light sticky lacing on top. Tons of tiny champagne like bubbles are visible rising in the glass.
Aromas of yeast and fruity esters dominate the nose. Grainy aromas and wheat notes mingle with the yeast. Banana and spice notes, dominated by clove and pepper, are also notable along with a hint of citrus and floral aromas.
On the palate yeast, sweet grains and wheat notes dominate with a slighty grassy tone. The spice notes from the bouquet are detectable on the palate as well. Fruit notes of citrus and stone fruits add complexity. Farm Girl is dry and refreshing despite a slightly sweeter taste than many saisons.
A great session beer from Lift Bridge. Perfect for warmer days or when you want to enjoy an easy drinking ale. Although this is great all on its own, try pairing this one with some aged Chèvre, Red Curry Shrimp or peach cobbler.
The Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 3.5 Out of 5 Pints
Please check with your local Bottle King store for current inventory!
Magic Hat brewery has been crafting quality beers from Burlington, VT since their inception in 1994. In honor of our special in store tasting this week we have been reporting on the beers offered in the Night of the Living Dead variety pack. This week’s feature is Séance, a Saison Ale that is also available in 6 packs for a limited time.
The beer pours an opaque dark brown. In the glass it appears almost black but when held to the light amber and red hues are visible. The two finger frothy tan head shows amazing staying power. After the head slowly recedes a hearty lacing is left both on the sides of the glass and atop the beer.
Aromas of deep roasted malts dominate the nose. There are also sweet aromas of caramel, toffee, molasses, chocolate and dried dark fruits. Light nutty and a creamy vanilla notes are also present. In contrast to the aromas listed above there is an evident aroma of earthy hops and a faint yeasty note.
On the palate you are hit first by a wave of roasted malts that carry flavors of burnt sugar, dark roasted coffee and unsweetened chocolate. The initial wave is met by a secondary wave of tart fruits (mainly cherry), nuts and spice. This second wave also shows a notable “funk” from the yeast. The finish is bitter and dominated by notes of earthy hops.
Séance is definitely different! It is like the love child of a Stout and a Saison. A great beer for the changing seasons offering notes of both typical warm weather and cold weather beers all rolled into one! Trying pairing this one with smoked brisket, a nutty Parmesan or molten lava cake.
The Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 3.0 Pints out of 5
Please check with your local Bottle King store for current inventory
David Cole and Peter Erickson are the founders and co-owners of Epic Brewing Company, and the name is the perfect way to describe their beers. Brewing a bunch of new, creative and adventurous beers, the final products we see on the shelves are certainly nothing short of “Epic.”
The Sour Apple Saison is a great example of something special. The beer pours a bright gold color with a thick, creamy and rich white head. Once the head begins to dissipate, white lacing remains on the sides of the glass. The carbonation is evident throughout.
The bouquet shows bright notes of sour apple right off the bat. There is an undertone of yeasty sweet malts that balance the fruit. Notes of spice, mainly coriander and a hint of cinnamon, add complexity to the nose.
On the palate the spice notes hit first. Coriander, clove, cardamom and again a hint of cinnamon pack the initial punch of flavor and are carried by a light and soft malt note. Bready and sweet apple (think apple juice) notes follow on the midpalate. The apple note lingers and intermingles with a light peppery hop note. The finish is clean, dry and refreshing.
Overall, this sweet and sour fruit beer delivers more than what you would expect. It is complex and well balanced without being over the top. A great beer to harken the Spring – if Spring ever decides to show up! Watch out though, this light tasting beer weighs in at 8.1% ABV and does not taste it at all.
The Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4.0 Pints out of 5
Please check with your local Bottle King store for current inventory
The Bruery’s Saison Rue pours a hazy amber with a voluminous white head. The head sits atop the beer until you’ve consumed every last drop of liquid and the foam that remains clings to the side of the glass like Velcro. There is a veritable forest of bubbles rising up from the bottom of the beer, indicating a fair amount of carbonation. The label reads ‘Belgian Style Ale Brewed with Rye and Brettanomyces’. While the Brettanomyces are not uncommon ingredients in Belgian Farmhouse ales, rye is a somewhat less expected addition.
The nose gives off a variety of fragrances, among them pepper, brettanomyces funk, rye bread, grass, earth, banana and green apples. It’s a surprisingly fruity aroma, not quite as earthy as is typical of saisons.
There’s a good deal of lively carbonation, but that’s to be expected given the amount of visible CO2 rising through the beer. The beer itself is medium-bodied, crisp and smooth.
The rye lends Saison Rue an added bit of spiciness that complements the peppery notes well. The funk that comes with the use of brettanomyces is present throughout, but not the primary focus. It’s surprisingly fruity, with the banana and green apple notes from the nose coming through in the taste of the beer with some dark fruits thrown in for good measure. The robust malt backbone provides some sweetness and allows the Saison Yeast and Brettanomyces full effect.
This is perhaps the best saison I’ve had occasion to sample. It’s a particularly complex entry in an already complex style. The rye and brettanomyces really add something special to the beer and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
The Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Pints
If You Liked This Try: Saison DuPont, The Bruery Trade Winds Tripel, Orval
Please check with your local Bottle King store for current inventory.