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Posts Tagged Saison

Beer of the Week: Council Beátitude Boysenberry

Jan 6

Council Brewing’s Béatitude Boysenberry imperial tart saison aged in bourbon barrels

From the Beer Writer: Few are the fruits that haven’t made it into the sour fruit of Council Brewing Company‘s labor care of its ever-changing line-up of tart saisons. One that was particularly successful gained its assertive flavor character from boysenberries. It was such a fruitful addition to the beer-board that head brewer Liz Chism decided to not just bring it back, but employ oak-barrel maturation when doing so. Enter Council Béatitude Boysenberry, an imperialized (i.e., higher-alcohol) version of the beer that spent several months in bourbon whiskey barrels. Though the beer is over double the strength of its progenitor and is big on acidity, it drinks smooth and easy. Its bouquet reminds me of wine grapes at first sniff, with an interesting PB&J quality arising upon further analysis. On the tongue, the beer conveys fruit-forward flavors that remind me of home-made boysenberry pie filling minus the sugar. There is a touch of sweetness and very slight traces of vanillins from the oak, and they round out the dessert-like qualities, but the wood-character blends in instead of taking over, leaving an earthiness behind that tastes delightfully like the seeds of fresh boysenberries. It’s a winner that’s currently available in limited supply exclusively at Council’s Kearny Mesa tasting room.

From the Brewer: “This beer was inspired through our Employee R&D program when our beertender, Candice Dowell, aged her favorite fruit, boysenberries, along with toasted American oak in the base-beer for Béatitude. We only made five gallons of this R&D keg and it didn’t last long. The flavor combination complemented the tart base-beer perfectly. As soon as I tasted it, I knew I wanted to build off Candi’s idea, and Imperial Béatitude Boysenberry was born. The original beer was only about 4% alcohol-by-volume. We decided this beer needed to be aged in Heaven Hill bourbon whiskey barrels, and 4% is rather low for barrel-aging, so we amped the malt bill up on this beer to 9.7% to stand up to the extended barrel-aging, and pitched our house Brettanomyces and lactobacillus ‘magic slurry’ culture. This, along with the intensely tart boysenberries, resulted in a beer that has much more perceived acidity than the typical beers in our Béatitude series. The deep red color from the fruit and the intense sourness makes this beer come across as much more of a sour red or Flanders-style red ale than a saison.”—Liz Chism, Head Brewer/Owner, Council Brewing Company

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Beer of the Week: PB AleHouse Slomo Saison

Sep 23
Pacific Beach AleHouse SlowMo Saison

Pacific Beach AleHouse SlowMo Saison

From the Beer Writer: In spite of strides being made where craft-beer selection and availability is concerned, Pacific Beach is not one of the first places I think about when I’m thirsty for local ales. The fact I just turned 40 is probably another reason it’s not on the short-list of communities I frequent. But every now and then the allure of sun, sand and good old-fashioned beach-bar fun inspires a visit. During my most recent return to the area, I made a point to do something that was far overdue—visit Pacific Beach AleHouse. A fire caused the venue to close down in 2015. During the down-time, management decided to renovate the venue and, on the brewery-side, their brewer left to pursue another project, making way for local Jonathon Reilly to take the reins. After taking a seat on the shaded second-story sky-deck, I made my way through tasters of the five house-beers. As is wise for a place like PB AleHouse that caters mostly to less craft-enthused imbibers, there was a mild lager, blonde and red ale, but I was most impressed by PB AleHouse Slomo Saison. It had nice bubble-gum and floral notes on the nose followed by good orange-like citrus character on the palate. And at 4.5% alcohol-by-volume, it’s just right for waiting out a sunset over the Pacific Ocean…or making it through four quarters of football if you’re a Bills fan. The night I was there, the place was packed with wing-eating, jersey-clad fans who, even though their team lost that night, still had to be elated to be beach-adjacent rather than preparing for another punishing Buffalo winter.

From the Brewer: “Brewing the saison here at the beach, I was following a common idea of having a light and approachable beer in the sun. Knowing wit, wheats and hefeweizens rounded out this idea as well. I wanted to create something that could run between those characteristics. Using local White Labs Belgium Saison III yeast and a simple base-malt gave me the ability to maintain a light and bright beer, and still get some interesting phenolics. The inclusion of wildflower honey and Hersbrucker hops provided a nice, spicy and floral aroma. This beer is notably named after our local hero Slomo. To make a long story short, he was a well-to-do doctor, who gave up his job and lifestyle to pursue a happier and simpler one. He is most commonly known locally for his unique ‘slow-motion’ stance while rollerskating down the boardwalk, just steps from PB Alehouse.  And I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that my fiancé came up with the name.”—Jonathan Reilly, Brewer, Pacific Beach AleHouse

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Thunderhawk Alements now open in Miramar

Sep 19

thunderhawk_logoFor more than a year-and-a-half, a sign visible to drivers on Miralani Drive proclaimed the 2015 opening of a new brewery. 2015 came and went, then the first eight months of 2016 elapsed—but that brewery’s doors remained closed to the public. Beer geeks wondered, beer journalists inquired—it seemed this operation might be doomed to fade away before ever pouring a beer. And that seemed a shame considering the nice and clearly beloved folks behind the business, which was partially crowd-funded by people who believed in ownership. Then, this weekend, it finally happened: Thunderhawk Alements (8675 Miralani Drive, #100, Miramar) soft-opened over the weekend.

Co-founder Jon Barbarin says a number of TTB delays and many sleepless nights preceded their unannounced debut, but seeing word-of-mouth and insider-alerts fill Thunderhawk’s tasting room Saturday and Sunday, probably helped give him a shot in the arm.

Thunderhawk’s bar is equipped with 14 taps, and opened with seven of them pouring the following:

  • Electric Youth: A coffee pale ale that I sampled a prototype of and very much enjoyed.
  • Liberty’s Teeth: A cascade-hopped British-style extra special bitter (ESB).
  • Torreyana: A “San Diego-style” saison brewed with locally sourced honey, ginger and Torrey Pine needles, fermented on American oak chips.
  • Over There: A dunkelweizen brewed with European-sourced malts.
  • Westworld: A pale ale brewed with Cascade and Chinook hops.
  • Planet Rock: Another pale ale hopped with Amarillo and Simcoe.
  • Sun Zener: Yet another pale ale, this one given citrus and melon character care of Citra and Mosaic hops.

Thunderhawk’s bar-top is forged from a 31-foot live-edge California Redwood, and the overall thematic is described as “western-slash-Americana”. Barbarin and company sourced a collection of 1950s copper relief pieces portraying the Old West and installed light fixtures from antique plates and bowls made of that same metal. A full 1,300-square-feet of public-space is offered on an outdoor patio. Ownership plans to install TVs out there for the purpose of showing local sports events and soccer matches.

For now, Thunderhawk Alements will be open Saturdays, 12 to 10 p.m. and Sundays, 12 to 8 p.m. Additional days of operation will be added as they are able, starting with Friday, but there is no separation from the brewhouse to the tasting-room, so production will sometimes prohibit the business from being open to visitors. The owners also hope to work with other Miralani businesses such as 2kids Brewing Company and Setting Sun Sake Brewing Company to hold events displaying the wealth of craftsmanship in the immediate area.

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Beer of the Week: Toolbox Saison Chene Rustique d’Abricot

Aug 19
Toolbox Brewing's Saison Chene Rustique d’Abricot

Toolbox Brewing’s Saison Chene Rustique d’Abricot

From the Beer Writer: It’s hard to believe they’ve been in business nearly two years, but Toolbox Brewing Company (which will celebrate its second anniversary at its Vista tasting room on September 3) has been cranking away at its wild-and-woody pursuits for some time now. During that time there have been obstacles to overcome, due mostly to a far-too-high-profile split between ownership and their original brewer. But Toolbox has done more than repair any busted cogs. Current brewer Ehren Schmidt (who’s been there a full-year now) has hammered-and-nailed the brewhouse to fit his brewing methodologies, and visitors to the tasting room—where the most impressive of the brewery’s stock is presented—are benefiting big-time. Toolbox’s line of wild and otherwise soured beers is varied and impressive, but when asked which they are most proud of, the owners and brewers unanimously point to Saison Chene Rustique d’Abricot. Smelling of apricot flesh and tasting both floral and herbal in its Belgian-yeast influence with subdued stone fruit character, this 7.8% alcohol-by-volume farmhouse ale is a thing of beauty. It’s easy to see why the crew is so quick to hang their collective hats on this one. And bonus: unlike most prized bottled beers up for sale online (which happened a short while ago), there is still some of this beer in-stock at Toolbox’s tasting room. And starting later today, bottles of two new beers—a barrel-aged sour farmhouse ale called Nyssa, plus a version of that beer flavored with white peaches—will be available on Toolbox’s website.

From the Brewer: “The Rustique Series of saisonswhich so far consists of Chene Rustique and this beerare Toolbox’s tribute to times past. Chene denotes that this beer came from our American oak fouder. This variant has apricots added to accentuate the already complex characteristics of hay, citrus and oak with deep stone fruit flavor and aroma. Close your eyes and imagine you’re a saisonier working in the fields of rural Wallonia in Belgium, sipping a quaffable beverage such as this. This is our homage to those hard-working farm-hands, and a place and time when beers like these were necessities, not luxuries.”—Ehren Schmidt, Head Brewer, Toolbox Brewing Company

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Beer of the Week: Cellar 3 Natura Morta Boysenberry

Jul 22
Green Flash Cellar 3 Natura Morta with Boysenberries

Green Flash Cellar 3 Natura Morta with Boysenberries

From the Beer Writer: If you’ve never been to Cellar 3, Green Flash Brewing Company’s Poway-based tasting room-equipped barrel-aging facility, then you are missing out. Even with barrel-aged and soured beers on the rise throughout the county and the world, one would be challenged to find as much of it in as much variety at as good of a price-point as what Cellar 3 is offering. Were it in North Park or even Oceanside, it would be flooded with customers, but being out in “the city in the country”, it’s not all that convenient (unless you’re making a Costco or Home Depot run). The current Beer of the Week, Cellar 3 Natura Morta Boysenberry is worth a special-trip all on its own. The latest riff on a series of fruited red wine barrel-aged saisons that debuted during the 2014 edition of Green Flash’s annual Treasure Chest Fest (proceeds of which benefit the Susan G. Komen San Diego) incorporates boysenberries, which boost the tartness of the base-beer. It’s so berry-like you’ll feel like you need to pick seeds out of your teeth after enjoying a positively bone-dry finish. The 5.5% alcohol-by-volume beer is available in bottles or on tap, along with more than a dozen other barrel-aged creations. Don’t venture very far just for beer and need an excuse? Stop by on your next hiking trip to Mt. Woodson or deep East County trek.

From the Brewer: “After over a year at Cellar 3, Natura Morta Boysenberry is our first release that has been completely fermented, aged and blended under the Cellar 3 roof. For all beers released prior to this, we had started the long process back in our Mira Mesa location. The environment at Cellar 3 is controlled to our specifications and thoroughly geared to barrel aging beers. This beer is really outstanding in part because of this elevated level of environmental control. The process we use to make this, and the other Natura Morta beers, has been developed over a four-year period. We ferment our Saison in oak foudres with our house strain of Brettanomyces. This strain comes from the first wine barrel we ever used—a red wine barrel from a San Diego winery—that has been isolated and introduced to our program over the past several years. This house yeast strain is now in everything we do. After doing a 100% Brett fermentation, the beer is transferred into barrels where boysenberry purée is added. The house Brett then ferments out the sugars from the fruit and is allowed to age for between 6 and 18 months. The sugars that are fermented are from not only malt, but also from fruit, resulting in completely different flavors than you would find in a regular beer. What I am trying to do with these Natura Morta beers is utilize the yeast, malt and fruit to make a ‘beer’ that has not only the flavor of beer and fruit but the essence of the fruit.”—Pat Korn, Barrelmaster, Green Flash Brewing Company

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