Review: Saison du BUFF

Stone has a long history of collaborations. Not all of them are hits, but I can usually find them at my local bottle shop for about $3 for a 12oz bottle. As unit price, it’s a little high, but it’s a low enough price point that I don’t mind dropping it on something that could be a crap shoot. And, with some of these somewhat out there beers, you may not want much more than a 12 ounces.

I’ve been on a saison kick for a little over a year, since I tasted my first batch of Rye Saison. We recently brewed a second batch, and since we certainly can’t keep well enough alone, we decided to split off a bit and do something different. Naturally, I’m always looking for inspiration, and this really seems to fit the bill.

Here’s Sam Caglione of Dogfish Head tasting the beer in a Reno 911 costume (… I don’t know):

Yeah… so there’s that. Anyway, these are three great brewers getting together to do something right in my wheelhouse. Even if it was more expensive, I would have probably still would have picked it up.

Tasting Notes

Saison du BUFF

Appearance: The beer is the color of golden straw. It’s very transparent with a steady stream of bubbles rising from the stem of the goblet. There’s a very minimal white head that quickly reduces to a small patchwork on covering about two thirds of the beer.

Aroma: The nose is led by very earthy, grassy notes from the hops. There is also an herbaceous quality that comes across a little savory and a little spicy. Very interesting aroma.

Taste: Very, very dry. The beer is crisp, clean and dry like a good saison should be. The first taste is the grassy notes from the hops. What follows is a progression from the different herb flavors.There’s a lingering spiciness from the herbs (maybe the thyme?) that leaves the palate fresh.

Mouthfeel: The beer is light and dry with very bright carbonation. Right to style for a saison. A little more head might be nice, but that’s picking nits.

Overall: A lot of beers that are conceived from a joke or reference sacrifice the quality of the overall beer in order to make the more clever joke. This beer manages to pull off the parsly, sage, rosemary and thyme theme by choosing a beer that would be enhanced by the herbs. This is a good beer. The collaboration, theme and whatnot add to the story and help to elevate the beer. A story can elevate a good beer, but it can’t save a bad beer.

Going Wild

I’ve mentioned a lot of times that one of my favorite things about brewing is trying to new things and trying to create something I haven’t tasted before. One of our first beers was a Peanut Butter Porter. One of our favorite beers that we made was our Chili Pepper Porter.There’s something exciting about doing something you’ve done before to make something you’ve never tasted before.

Jordan and I brewed another batch of our Rye Saison a few weeks ago. As we were brewing, we threw out a few different ideas. We thought about doing jalapeños, black peppercorns, sage and few a others. Eventually we landed on funky-ing up our beer with some Brettanomyces.

Brettanomyces

Brettanomyces Cells

Brett is in the same family as almost all brewing yeasts, but it attacks sugar in a somewhat different way. We used Wyeast 3711 (French Saison) in primary. This yeast eats most of the simple sugars and outputs most of the booze. The first batch this was all we used. We pitched the Brett in secondary, after the Saison yeast did most of its work. During this phase, this yeast attacks the more complicated sugars in the wort and produces slightly more booze but also acetic acid and esters that give it that barnyard or horse blanket smell.

There are a few different varieties to choose from, but we ended up choosing Wyeast 5526 (Brettanomyces Lambicus™) . The description from Wyeast is:

This is a wild yeast strain isolated from Belgian lambic beers. It produces a pie cherry-like flavor and sourness along with distinct “Brett” character.

I’m thinking the tartness and fruitiness will work well with the yeasty, dry flavors of the Saison. We won’t know what the end result will be for a few months, but I’m already excited.

We have half of the Saison in secondary without any doctoring. We might even be able to mix at the end. There’s a decent chance that this won’t work out, but it’s almost always worth the risk for the chance of creating something new.