This week the honor goes to The Bruery’s Saison De Lente. Saisons are sometimes called Farmhouse Ales as they originated on the farms of French speaking Wallonia in Belgium (“saison” being the French word for season). Saisons were brewed on the farms to refresh the workers there. Historically, they were very low in alcohol (around 3.5% abv) in order that the workers be able to finish the day’s labor. Saisons sprang up around Wallonia in many forms, so the original Saison “style” was extremely varied in flavor and ingredients. Farmers brewed Saisons with the ingredients that were readily available to them at the time. More recently, Saisons have become very strongly associated with the Saison brewed at the Brasserie Dupont in Tourpes, Belgium who’s “Saison Dupont” is often considered to be the modern defining beer of the style. Saisons are brewed with barley malt, though wheat is sometimes used in addition. Spices, seasonings and adjuncts like honey and sugar can also be used in Saisons, though no one ingredient is common to all Saisons. Saisons can also be some of the “hoppiest” of the Belgian beers and are usually markedly bitter.
The Bruery is a brewing company based in Placentia, California founded by Patrick Rue and named as a fusion between his family name and the word “brewery”. It opened in 2008and has thus far produced an average of 2,500 barrels of beer annually on their 15 barrel brewhouse and is growing rapidly. The Bruery’s products are considered to be experimental ales brewed in the Belgian tradition. Using a proprietary Belgian yeast strain for the majority of their creations, The Bruery creates a wide landscape of beers through their use of unique ingredients such as coriander, bitter orange peel and lavender in their “Orchard White” or bacteria such as Pediococcus and Lactobacillus along with Pinot Noir grapes in their “Pinotlambicus”. The Bruery is also notable for their use of oak barrels (both bourbon and wine) for the fermentation and aging of their beers. Particularly, they have become well known for their strong bourbon aged ales that can range between 13% and 19.5% alcohol by volume (typical beers have around 3% to 7% alcohol by volume). One of The Bruery’s more infamous beers is a bourbon barrel aged imperial stout known as “Black Tuesday”. This beer is released only once each year on the final Tuesday of October and is named for both the economic downturn of the Great Depression as well as the disastrous day at the brewery when it was first brewed. Several batches are brewed and aged in oak barrels to later be blended to taste and bottled for release. It was first released in October 2009 and was 19.5% abv. The October 2010 release was 18.2% abv. There are also several variants of Black Tuesday including Chocolate Rain, a version of the beer with cocoa nibs and vanilla beans added to it.
Saison De Lente pours a brilliant golden hue with just a slight haze. Thick, frothy white head protrudes from the top of the glass, and takes a few minutes to settle. Not even a hard pour. Sticky lacing coats the side of the glass. The aroma is of some lemongrass notes, along with sweet malty notes at first, then yeast kicks in with peppery, funky aromas. Very pleasing on the nose. Lemongrass and hints of green apple mingle with earthy, floral hop notes, pepper, and a wallop of bretty funk hit the palate. Finish is dry and peppery, but very clean and balanced.
Saison De Lente will be at most specialty beer shops for the next few months and will cost you about $13.00 for a 750ml bottle.