You know me by now. What do I love about Saturdays? College Football, firing up the grill, and drinking delicious craft beers. Today, in the sunny San Diego afternoon, it's about Saisons. Here are the BEST 3 Saisons I have had recently, in my eternal love affair with the style.... From GABF, one of, if not the BEST American Saison I have tasted:
BEER & BREWERY #44
Funkwerks Saison, ? ABV: Let's GIVE IT UP for the brewery you've never heard of!!! This brewery was lead to me by Dr. Bill during GABF, who knows my obsession with Saisons, and told me, "You HAVE to try this beer, it's one of the best."
Ohhh my Saison goodness. Tons of freshly baled hay, chunky earth, citrus (lemon flesh, peel, and juice), tree fruit (think pear and peach), white pepper, and spice. Wonderfully dry on the finish. Like a fine wine, that drying of the palate makes your mouth beg for another sip. It's the most brilliant way to get your customers to want more! And these guys NAILED it. I wanted to just stand at the Funkwerks booth and beg them to keep pouring me tasters. I don't know how, but I have to get this beer again. Hands down, one of the best beers tasted at GABF 2010.
Located in Fort Collins, Colorado, Funkworks is definitely new on the Craft Beer scene, but I have the upmost faith in the future of this brewery. Owners Gordon Schuck and Brad Lincoln opened Funkwerks in 2009, but the history of their Saison goes back to 2002, when Gordon began homebrewing. And a few years later, he won the GOLD medal at the 2007 National Homebrew Competition for guess which beer? His Belgian Saison. In 2009, both entered the Siebel Institute to learn to become professional brewers, and the rest they say...is history.
If you live in Colorado, do yourself a huge favor, and FIND this beer.
BEER & BREWERY #43
Craftsman Saison, 7.8% ABV: (on tap at Stone Brewing Co.) Whoa! A much deeper color than I expected! A beautiful amber/caramel color, this is much deeper than the typical and sometimes cloudy straw color I am used to. I even asked the waitress, "This is the Saison...right?"
Mmm, and the nose? TOTALLY unexpected. But ahhh, wonderful....and sour. Yes, along with the textbook Saison nose of hay and citrus, there is a good dollop of brett, red apple, and cider vinegar. That brett carries right along into the palate, and the mouthfeel has a wonderfully balanced bit of tartness. Not sour power or anything, but a lovely mildness. As you can tell, I really enjoyed drinking this beer, and it will definitely be ordered again.
That it is located in Pasadena, California is about all I can tell you about this new brewery. And that its owner/brewer is Mark Jilg. The reason I included this tiny brewery is because they make exceptional and unique beers. And it is in the passion and perseverance of brewers like Mark that keeps the heart of the Craft Beer movement beating.
And the always classic and delicious...
BEER & BREWERY #42
North Coast Le Merle Saison, 7.9% ABV: Well, what can I say about this beer that you don't already know? It is TRULY an American classic Saison. I remember first tasting this beer 2 years ago, and instantly realizing three things: 1. Craft beer can be delicious AND accessible to non-craft beer drinkers 2. This beer pairs beautifully with food 3. I am obsessed with Saisons.
I cannot tell you the number of wine drinkers I turned on to craft beer and Saisons via this particular brew. And here's why: It has a beautiful and vibrant nose of citrus juice and peel, flower, hay, yeast, grass, pepper, and spice. On the palate, all of those aromas gently and seamlessly meld together. No rough edges, perfectly balanced. And for wine drinkers, it has the same elegance and simplicity of a French white wine. In fact, I would sell this during the summer to folks coming in for a refreshing afternoon "porch wine", and they LOVED it.
North Coast, as you may know makes one of the best Russian Imperial Stouts in history, the forever classic, Old Rasputin. It's just downright delicious, and only gets better with age. Located in Ft. Bragg on California's Mendocino Coast, North Coast opened in 1988, and is undoubtedly considered one of the pioneers of the craft beer movement. Among their famous and loved beers are Scrimshaw Pilsner, Old Stock Ale, and Brother Thelonious. CLICK HERE to see my review of Brother Thelonious during my Belgian 100 beers challenge, and CLICK HERE to see my stunned revelation with the Old Rasputin during my FIRST 100 beers challenge with Stouts and Porters!
Until next time,
Rev up your Saturdays, fire up the grill, and make it a Saison kind of day....