Monday, February 27, 2012

Petite Saison Tasting

When I think of saisons - those thirst quenching, low alcohol beers consumed by Wallonian farmers during the summer harvest -  the image that immediately comes to my mind is of the painting The Harvesters, by Pieter Bruegal. Just as I spent a few summers of my youth baling hay in the oppressive summer heat, quenching our thirst with icy cans of Miller and Coors that we had stashed away, I'd like to think that the peasants in the painting at least got to end their day with a cold beer or two. Whether or not those peasants drank beer, or saison for that matter, is of little importance. So much of brewing and drinking beer is about memory, the places we've been and experiences we've had. I can't say I brewed this 'petite' saison with any peasants in mind, though I'd imagine a low gravity saison would be a nice treat after a hard days work. So here, on a particularly cold winters day, a petite saison for all my work.

Petite Saison : Belgian Saison

Appearance – From the bottle it pours a hazy honey - orange color with a medium, large bubbled head with fair retention. Carbonation is low. 

Aroma – Light tropical fruit (lemon and lychee) with a pleasant perfume-y black pepper and clove spiciness. Some malt aroma is noticeable with a mellow 'wheat beer' character. Very nice.

Taste – Again, tropical fruit flavors with a black pepper and clove spiciness that lingers to the finish. As the beer warmed up, the tropical fruit flavors started to take on slightly herbal/floral quality, almost like a fruity jasmine green tea. The cracked pepper flavor is quite nice and surprising, as it is just strong enough to be noticeable but not overpowering. Bitterness is light yet firm. The beer finishes with a slight candy sweetness that makes me think the yeast has not yet consumed all of the bottling sugar.

Mouthfeel – Very light and dry. Maybe a little too "thin" though the low carbonation doesn't help. 

Drinkability & Notes – A nice surprise. I was expecting to not like this one, expecting it to be very fruity and overpoweringly spicy. Luckily, the spice and fruitiness is quite mellow (probably due to a lowish ferment temp of 68-72F) and the beer has really improved over the two months since bottling. You can tell this beer is "petite" - none of the flavors are really intense - though it is very drinkable. I would have liked the carbonation to be a bit more effervescent, though that might change with time. The biggest surprise was the contribution of the Pacific Jade hops; the fruity-herbal and black pepper flavor they gave the beer was fantastic. Looking forward to drinking the rest of the bottles when the weather warms up! 

O.G: 1.038, F.G: 1.002, 4.7% ABV, 20 IBU, WhiteLabs 566 Saison II.

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