Saint Somewhere is a small brewery in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Last year they produced less than 400 barrels of beer. Two of Saint Somewhere's Saisons are distributed here, despite being 1500 miles away. I don't understand the magic behind the distribution game but I'm thankful we can get these small batch beers in the Midwest. This bottle of Saint Somewhere Cynthiana is especially exciting because it is a Saison brewed with Norton wine grapes. Norton (aka Cynthiana) is one of the styles of wine I really enjoy because it is so bold and dry. I'm hoping to find a little of that in this beer.
Stillwater Artisanal, like Mikkeller, is a brewer without a brewery... a gypsy brewer. The idea is that Stillwater and Mikkeller rent time on another brewery's system when that production brewery has capacity. Stillwater seems to brew most of their beers at Dog Brewing in Westminster, MD. The brews that come from Dog Brewing are Stillwater's year-round beers like this bottle of Stateside Saison. Stillwater may have several other bottles on the shelf, but if you look closely you'll see a number of them are collaborations, brewed somewhere other than Dog Brewing. It's an interesting business model to say the least.
In preparation for my rapidly approaching bachelor party I decided to splurge a little and order a few bottles of Cigar City. The Tampa beers arrived a couple days ago and I put this bottle of Guava Grove right in the fridge. I really like fruit infused beers and I've learned to appreciate Saisons much more than I did even a year ago, so I'm hoping this Saison brewed with guava and fermented with a Belgian yeast strain. I've sampled this beer about a year ago and I remember really enjoying it, so I can't wait to sit down and spend some quality time with this bottle of Guava Grove.
I try not to seek out breweries or specific beers. I know that, in most cases, it will just lead to frustration when I can't find a beer I really want to try. Even worse is when I finally get my hands on a bottle of something I've really been looking forward to and it just doesn't live up to expectations. The Bruery is one brewery I've been wanting to try for the longest time and have been trying to find bottles of their beer while on vacation for a while now. It seems like their beers just don't stay in stock very long, which is great because their beers must be really good... but it doesn't help when I'm out of town and looking for a bottle to bring back home. I was finally able to pick up a few bottles of Bruery beer a few weeks ago and I'm hoping they can now live up to the hype that has been built up in my head.
The Saison du Buff started as an idea kicked around by the heads of Dogfish Head, Victory and Stone Brewing Comanpies. Buff comes from their acronym for Brewers United for Freedom of Flavor, the name they gave their very unofficial gathering. The Saison du Buff was produced in three batches, one at Stone, one at Victory and this one which was brewed at Dogfish in Delaware. The Dogfish beer was released second, after Stone's version, and I'd love to review them all in order but none of these breweries distribute to my area... so I'll take what I can get, when I can get it.
Saisons are a style I struggled with for the longest time. The paleness reminded me too much of a Pilsner and the all too common dry finish left me with a bad taste in my mouth... literally. Through what I like to call perseverance, I've come to terms with this style of beer and I've found aspects of Saisons which I enjoy. It's still a love-hate relationship at times, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy a great Saison every now and then. I'm hoping this bottle of Saison Dupont falls on my side of that thin gray line between good and bad.
I first heard of Avery's Anniversary Saisons from a flyer hanging up in the bathroom of the Avery tasting room next door to the brewery in Boulder, Colorado. This was just last summer so the poster was advertising the Sixteenth Anniversary Saison. A couple months later I was about to get my hands on a bottle of the Sixteen and thought pretty highly of it. It wasn't my favorite beer by any means, but I enjoyed it. As time passed, my memories of the Sixteen grew fonder. About a month ago I was smaller liquor store looking for a new release when I came across a bottle of Avery's Fifteen and couldn't resist taking it home.
Boulevard's Tank 7 has had an interesting release... This beer was first made available at the brewery tasting room last summer. I happened to go on a tour just after the first batch hit the taps and had a few samples. At the time, I didn't care for this beer at all. I took a couple more tours between summer and Christmas and drank a collective pint or more of the Tank 7 in the tasting room. Each time I had this beer it tasted a little spicier and hoppier than I remember. I'd heard Boulevard was planning on phasing out their Saison Smokestack Series and replacing it with this beer, so I kept going back to try this beer and see if maybe I just got a bad glass... but no, I just didn't like the Tank 7.
First impressions of this beer were, "OK, it definitely tastes like a Saison..." When I took a drink of Avery's Anniversary Sixteen Saison I got a mouthful of yeasty, floral, spicy clove that just screams Saison. This is why Saisons aren't my favorite style of beer, it just isn't a flavor combination that I'm terribly fond of. I still like Saisons, I just hope I'm not stranded on an island with one any time soon. Back to this particular Saison... Avery released this as an anniversary beer so, of course, they took the style a little further than you might appreciate when you first hear the ingredients. For their 16th anniversary Avery brewed this beer with jasmine, honey and peaches. It may not sound too exciting, I mean honey and peaches aren't the most adventurous fermentable out there... but when you finish that first sip you really get an appreciation for what Avery has done here.
I really tried to like Boulevard's Saison-Brett. I did. This beer just doesn't do it for me though... Despite it's relation (no matter how specious) to George Brett and it's closeness in style to the Belgian beers I love so much, the Saison-Brett just isn't a beer I enjoy as much as I want to. My main complaint with this beer is that it is too spicy, it's borderline bitter which is something I don't like in my Saisons. I prefer the more sour, citrusy and creamy beers in this style. In my opinion, the Saison-Brett is too strongly hopped and too carbonated. The beer loses a bit of it's smoothness because the hops are so up front and the bubbles distract from those sour and citrus flavors that are hidden behind all that bitterness. As I said before, for a Saison, this beer isn't bad. It's still a little sour and a little sweet, not as much as I'd like but it's still there... If I were looking for a Saison to take to dinner, the Boulevard Saison-Brett wouldn't be my first choice.