Tag Archives: Saison

849 – 878 Various Allagash Beers

For 4+ weeks in April/May I drank all Allagash beer including many beers that were 3+ years old. Rather than writing a complete review of each I am just going to do a brief overview of each. If you have never been to the brewery Allagash has one of the best brewery tours out there and if you ever get the opportunity to attend one of their events go. Their bottle releases, annual Street Fair and other events are always a great time.

849. Allagash Astrid

Many of these bottles are brewery only releases and several are described simply as “ale aged in oak barrels”. This one is specific in the type of barrels saying “ale aged in Aquavit barrels”. Aquavit is a Scandanavian spirit that I have never tried so not sure what it adds to the flavor but I did enjoy Astrid. A bit of funk in the nose, along with some apricot, lemon and oak from the barrels. Interesting combination of fruit, barrel and funk but I enjoyed it.
Allagash Astrid
850. Allagash Avance

This was one of my favorites from the 30 days of Allagash. Avance is a barrel aged beer brewed with molasses and aged on strawberries. The combination of oak, bourbon, strawberries and just a bit of funk make this an exceptionally complex beer. Very light sour and little carbonation but it all works together for a very enjoyable beer.
Allagash Avance
851. Allagash Belfius

Belfius is a combination of Allagash’s Saison and coolship beers. I got some green apple and a bit of funk in the nose which follows through to the flavor. As it warmed the saison came through nicely. Enjoyable and more refreshing than some of the other beers in this list but overall just not quite as good as many as the others.
Allagash Belfius
852. Allagash Century Ale

Century Ale is one of the few 375s that made it out to distribution and can still be found in some bottle shops. This is a straight up brett saison that is dry hopped before being packaged. Very good mix of fruity hops and dry bready funk from the brett. For whatever reason I was not expecting much from this beer and really enjoyed it.
Allagash Century Ale
853. Allagash Coolship Cerise

The Coolship series includes a number of beers that are spontaneously fermented in Allagash’s coolship. Cerise is aged on Maine grown cherries which gives it a lot of funky sourness. Cherries really come through but not in a cough medicine sweet way. Truly exceptional beer here and glad that I have a few more bottles kicking around the cellar.
Allagash Coolship Cerise
854. Allagash Coolship Red

Similar to Coolship Cerise but this one is aged on raspberries. The raspberries come through strong in the aroma, color and flavor. This combines very well with just a hint of funk and earthy aroma/flavor. Carbonation was active helping to give the beer a nice tart finish. These Coolship beers are right up there with the best from Belgium.
Allagash Coolship Red
855. Allagash Curieux

Not sure how I made it through 850+ beers without reviewing Allagash Curieux as this is truly one of the best bourbon barrel aged beers being produced. So many breweries take their biggest, baddest stout, throw it in some bourbon barrels to add some bourbon and oak and think it is the best thing ever. Allagash instead took their Triple and aged it in Jim Beam barrels. What you get is a very complex beer with plenty of vanilla from the oak, fruity flavors from the yeast and a bit of booze from the combination of a high ABV triple and the additional of bourbon barrels. So much happening in this beer than anyone could find something to enjoy in it.
Allagash Curieux
856. Allagash Cuvee d’Industrial

A blend of barrels from Allagash resulted in Cuvee d’Industrial. Such an interesting mix of aroma and flavor here with some oak, earthy funk, green apple, lemon zest. Not quite as funky and sour as the Coolship beers but you can tell this is an Allagash beer with the bright and complex flavors.
Allagash Cuvee d'Industrial
857. Allagash Emotional Honey

This is the first beer  of the 30 days that I could describe as malty which is interesting since this started as a sour red ale and then was aged in mead barrels. You would think this would impart a super sweet character into the beer, instead it gives it a super dry finish. Not a lot of sour with this one just a well crafted enjoyable beer.
Allagash Emotional Honey
858. Allagash Evora

Evora is a brett beer aged on brandy barrels. Big Belgian yeast character with a fair amount of booze and barrel. Not as complex as many of the other beers from Allagash but still enjoyable. Overall a little more booze than I enjoy and I am guessing if you like brandy than you would probably enjoy this beer but overall I was a little disappointed.
Allagash Evora
859. Allagash Fluxus 2013

This one I did not give a rating as it probably should not have sat for nearly three years before being enjoyed. This was truly the only beer of the 30+ days that I did not enjoy and it was most likely a combination of it being a dark beer and the age which I am sure did not help this beer any.

Allagash Fluxus 2013
860. Allagash Ghoulschip

This was likely the oldest bottle that I opened as this was from the 2011 release of Ghouschip. Not sure if it was the age but there was virtually no pumpkin flavor left which is entirely OK with me. Certainly some funk and a little caramel sweetness. Lots of complexity in this beer even with 4.5 years of age on it. I have a couple bottles of the 2014 version and it will be interesting to see how these compare with the 2011 variety.
Allagash Ghoulschip
861. Allagash Golden Brett

This is a great introduction to brett beers for those that have not tried them before. The beer itself has a nice touch of fruit with some apricot, green apple and a bit of grape almost wine like flavor. Taste is crisp, lightly tart, refreshing and won’t make you pucker up too much. Super easy and clean finish, just a great beer overall and something that beer drinkers and non-beer drinkers could enjoy.
Allagash Golden Brett
862. Allagash Helena

I love this style of beer as Allagash calls Helena a Flemish Red and when this style is done well it is great. Fortunately Allagash does almost everything well and Helena does not disappoint. Big green apple tartness along with a bit of oak and a dry clean finish make this a great beer. Another beer that I have at least one more in the cellar and I am already looking forward to opening it.
Allagash Helena
863. Allagash House Beer (Haunted)

Allagash released a “haunted” version of their House Beer making it into a dark beer with an ABV of 6.66%. One of the many reasons I love Allagash is they don’t take things too seriously and are willing to do fun things like a “haunted” version of one of their beers. This was available in 4-packs at the brewery. Overall this is a nice beer but the coffee flavors were prevalent and I genuinely do not like coffee. Fun, easy drinking beer but not my style.
Allagash House Beer Haunted
864. Allagash Invisible Orange

The second beer of the 30+ days that I didn’t really enjoy and both were dark beers that included blood oranges. This one the description alone was enough to turn me off but I tried it and finished the 375 bottle. Belgian Style porter aged in French oak barrels using chocolate malts and blood orange pulp zest, who thought up of that combination. Maybe its your thing but it wasn’t mine.
Allagash Invisible Orange
865. Allagash Little Sal

Little Sal uses a pound of Maine blueberries per gallon of beer and was aged in red wine barrels. I love beer aged in wine barrels, much more so than bourbon or other spirit barrels and the addition of blueberries just put this one over the top. Only slightly tart with a bit of funk but overall the fruit, oak and wine character makes this beer a truly enjoyable experience.
Allagash Little Sals
866. Allagash Mattina Rossa

Another fruited beer from Allagash, this one with local raspberries. Aroma is big raspberries and funk. More tart than most of the others I have reviewed but in an enjoyable way. This one will make you pucker and your mouth water well after you have finished the last sip. Just a really great beer and one that I have enjoyed several times at beer fests and glad they finally released bottles to the public last year so I could enjoy at home.
Allagash Mattina Rossa
867. Allagash Merveilleux

Merveilleux is a blend of bourbon barrel and wine barrel aged beers that creates a very interesting and complex flavor profile. My initial thought was a straight up sour brown but as it warmed the complexity came out with some fig, cherry, oak, vanilla. Such an interesting beer with just enough of a bite to let you know its a sour beer but allows the subtle flavors of the barrels come through.
Allagash Merveiluex
868. Allagash Midnight Brett

Similar to some of the other beers already reviewed but with an added roasted chocolate, coffee flavor from the dark malts. Generally any beer that has coffee flavors will not score well with me since I do not enjoy coffee and this is no different. Starts off similar to most Allagash beers with a tart slightly funky flavor but the finish is all roasted malts with some coffee.
Allagash Midnight Brett
869. Allagash Nancy

This was probably my second favorite beer of the 30 days with the only thing holding it back was a lack of aroma. Appearance was great and the flavor started with some brett funk and plenty of cherry flavor. As it warmed the cherry became the dominant flavor but in a sour tart kind of way not jammy sweet. Just a super beer that I could enjoy over and over again.
Allagash Nancy
870. Allagash Neddles

Cool story behind Neddles as Allagash’s first employee Ned left Allagash to start New England Distilling just around the corner from Allagash. Allagash brewed a sour brown and aged it in rum barrels from New England Distilling and named it Neddles. The story alone adds to the character of this beer since Ned is a great guy doing great things but the beer also does not disappoint. Some dark fruit, a bit of funk and plenty of oak. Rum is muted but does work its way towards the front as the beer warms.
Allagash Neddles
871. Allagash Odyssey

Another dark beer aged in oak barrels however this one has lots of dates, raisin, molasses sweetness but none of the cocoa/coffee flavor that I generally dislike in my beer. It is a big beer at 10.4% ABV so there is a certain amount of booze but it is not off putting. Overall not my preferred style but the beer works and was enjoyable even with the high ABV.
Allagash Odyssey
872. Allagash Pick Your Own

My favorite beer of the 30+ days and likely my favorite Allagash beer. A sour red with raspberries, cherries and strawberries brought the best of everything to this beer. Very tart to the point of almost making your eyes water. Lots of berry flavor but not in a candy kind of way just a pleasant funky sour berry. Really enjoyable beer here.
Allagash Pick Your Own
873. Allagash Sixteen Counties

This is the original version of Sixteen Counties released in 4-packs of 12 ounce bottles. Allagash has since released a 750 ml cork and cage version which I believe is going to be a year round release for them. Sixteen Counties uses ingredients from all the counties in the State of Maine. This is a slightly hoppy Belgian pale ale with some nice spicy flavors from the Belgian yeast and a bit of grassy/earthy flavors from the hops. Such a crisp and clean beer.
Allagash Sixteen Counties
874. Allagash Tiarna

Another blend of two beers from Allagash. One is fermented with brett and the other with standard Belgian strains. Tiarna ends up being a slightly tart beer with a nice mix of bready malt and some lemon. Carbonation was heavy and very active but it didn’t take away from the beer. Enjoyable beer but not quite as good as many of the others.
Allagash Tiarna
875. Allagash Victor

I had high hopes for Victor and Victoria (see below), red grapes used in the brew process and fermented with wine yeast seemed like something I would enjoy. The beer poured a deep orange with solid white head. Aroma is full of spicy yeast. The only word that comes to mind to describe the taste is musty which is probably not the best term but all I can think of when drinking it. Overall a well crafted beer but it did not compare well with many of the other excellent beers in this list.
Allagash Victor
 876. Allagash Victoria

This beer is similar to Victor but uses Chardonnay grapes instead of red grapes. Again it seemed like a beer I would enjoy but the yeast was the dominant flavor with almost no funk or tartness. The 9% ABV is completly hidden both in the nose and the taste. Overall a nice beer that was slightly better than Victor but still not my thing.
Allagash Victoria
877. Allagash Vrienden

This is another really old bottle as the beer was brewed in 2010 and released in 2011. It was brewed at both Allagash’s facility in Portland and a different version was brewed at New Belgium Brewing of Colorado. Vrienden, the Allagash version, was brewed with dandelion greens and elderberries. Not a lot of carbonation left in this one which muted the aromas a bit. Taste had turned a bit acidic but still had a nice herbal and mildly funky berry finish. Very interesting beer that has held up surprisingly well over the 5 years since it was bottled.
Allagash Vrienden
878. Allagash Zohzo

Described as a hoppy blonde ale it is entirely different than most of the beers coming out of Allagash. Relatively simple especially when compared to the sour, barrel aged funk that many of the previous beers had but this one is very refreshing with a nice piney hop presence and simple malt backbone. Hoping this one comes around again as I enjoyed it.
Allagash Zohzo

Overall my 30 days of drinking nothing but Allagash beer was a fun way to dig through my cellar and enjoy some great beers that I had been hoarding for too long. I really shouldn’t need an excuse to drink lots of great beer from an exceptional brewery but I might have to do this with a few other breweries to get through my deep cellar.

 

 

 

 

 

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828. Hill Farmstead Civil Disobedience #15

Hill Farmstead Civil Disobedience 15This is actually my first review of a beer from Hill Farmstead’s Civil Disobedience series even though I have tried several and have many more in the cellar. The Civil Disobedience beers are typically a blend of various barrel aged beers and have included some of the more rare offerings from Hill including Art, Ann, Mimosa and Juicy. CD15 is a blend of barrels that was then aged on “mangos… many, many mangos”.

CD15 pours a very clear pale orange with thin white head that disappeared quickly leaving a small ring and minimal lacing. Aroma was slightly funky with some mango, citrus and wine. Taste was juicy mango, very little brett funk and not a lot of wine barrel but just enough to be noticeable.

Overall this is an excellent beer that has enough complexity to make it interesting but isn’t overwhelming. 
Pros:

Cons:
Alcohol Content: ??% ABV
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Hill Farmstead
Brewers Description: A blend composed of beers from a diversity of barrels ranging from 16 to 30 months and further aged on organic, hand peeled mangos… many, many mangos, thanks to the able assistance of some great volunteers!

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745. Hill Farmstead Flora

Hill Farmstead FloraFlora has been on my list of wants for a long time. I have tried it at some of the Hill Farmstead events but never been able to score a bottle. Flora was one of the bottle being released on the 9/26/13 bottle release that I wrote about here. Fortunately they released it again this year with a three bottle limit, I opened one to do this review and have the other two in my cellar for later.

I love the deep yellow glow and thick white head on this beer. It took several partial pours to get this photo as initially the head was much bigger. The aroma has so much going on; some wine, some wheat, oak and a slight funk. Flavor has the same level of complexity and may be even better than the aroma. You get the wine and oak from the barrel, a slight funk from the “microflora” and a little tart. This is truly one of the most complex and flavorful beers I have ever tried and expect the two bottles aging to be even more so.

Flora is one of my favorite beers and I still have the Satsuma and Blueberry varieties to drink and review. I expect those will be as good or better than the original. Truly exceptional, unique and a beer that I could drink every week and not tire of.
Pros:
Complex and wonderful
Cons: 
Alcohol Content: 4.8% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Hill Farmstead
Brewers Description: Wine barrel aged Wheat Saison fermented with resident microflora.

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738. Hill Farmstead Arthur

Hill Farmstead ArthurI have enjoyed Arthur several times but never took a photo and actually wrote up a review. When talking with people about Hill Farmstead the conversation often starts out with their hoppy offerings; Abner, Edward, the Society & Solitude series and the many other excellent beers but people may overlook the fact that some of the World’s best saisons are also coming out of Greensboro. In fact Beeradvocate’s list of top saisons 11 of the top 20 are from Hill Farmstead / Grassroots Brewing.

Arthur is Hill’s straight up saison, no honey (Anna), no dandelions (Vera Mae) and no barrel aging just a straight up farmhouse saison. Arthur pours a really hazy orange with a huge bright white head. Aroma is an amazing mix of green apple, lemon and light funk. Taste is even more enjoyable than the aroma as you get the same green apple, lemon but you also get a small amount of peppery spice. There is just the right amount of sour funk and a dry refreshing finish that makes this beer incredibly drinkable.

The saison style varies widely but this is just what I like from a farmhouse saison. In the recent months the limits on Hill Farmstead’s saisons has increased significantly so you can typically come home with one to three cases. Next time Arthur is available I may purchase my limit as it is that good. 
Pros:
Complex and refreshing
Cons: 
Alcohol Content: 6.0% ABV
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Hill Farmstead
Brewers Description: Arthur (1922-2005) was our grandfather’s youngest brother; Hill Farmstead Brewery rests upon the land that was once home to him and his 13 siblings. In his honor, this Saison is crafted from American malted barley, American and European hops, our distinctive farmhouse yeast and water from our well. Unfiltered and naturally carbonated, this is the ale that I dream to have shared with Arthur.

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683. Foundation Brewing Wanderlust #1

Foundation WanderlustWanderlust is Foundation Brewing’s summer seasonal and their third beer released to distribution. There have been numerous other brewery only releases available for sampling but this is one of three that made it out to bars and restaurants. Both prior beers; Blaze and Eddy were excellent and Wanderlust continues down this path.

The beer pours a nice golden color and is slightly cloudy. A nice white head that left plenty of lacing on the glass. Aroma is fruity with the peach/mango that the brewer mentions in the notes below. Taste follows with the same fresh fruit flavors with almost no bitterness.

Wanderlust is incredibly drinkable and one of the best summer beers available in Maine. I really hope that Foundation starts packaging their beer in the near future as I would love to be able to pick this up at my local beer shop.
Pros: Flavorful, drinkable, low ABV
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 4.3% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 26
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Foundation Brewing
Brewers Description: Wanderlust has a fresh aroma, reminiscent of peach and tropical fruit, and a juicy flavor highlighted by peach, mango and pine. The finish is crisp, dry, with a hint of sweet cereal grains, making it perfect for the warm weather we’ve been waiting so long for.

Wanderlust was first served in the tasting room in April 2014, and will be released for distribution in May 2014.

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670. Grassroots Brewing Brother Soigné

Grassroots Brother SoigneNot sure if you have noticed but Hill Farmstead has really started to increase the amount of bottled saisons available. I assume the new foudres have a lot to do with this. With the added capacity the bottle limits have increased from a six or less to multiple cases for many of the saisons.

As I write this Brother Soigne is the #1 saison on Ratebeer.com and for good reason. This beer pours a beautiful golden color with a single finger white head. Aroma has some lime, citrus and a light funk. Taste is incredible with a crisp tart fruit including lime, orange and green apple. I didn’t get any hibiscuus but with everything else that is going on I didn’t miss it.

Only a small amount of funk which makes this beer approachable for almost any beer drinker.  Another amazing beer from Shaun Hill. 
Pros:
 Fruity, slightly funky
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 5.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Hill Farmstead
Brewers Description: A tart, refreshing saison brewed with our dear friend Luc Bim Lafontaine, formerly of Dieu du Ciel! Lime, hibiscus and blood orange in a mixed fermentation.

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654. Oxbow Brewing Grizacca

Oxbow Brewing GrizaccaOf the three beers I brought back from Oxbow this one was my favorite. It had less to do with the taste and more to do with the carbonation. Both Bandolier and Freestyle #24 seemed nearly flat while this one had ample carbonation and a decent head. It was not due to the growlers sitting around as I drank the other two almost immediately and this one actually stayed in the fridge for at least a week.

In addition to the carbonation Grizacca has a very nice unfiltered pale orange color. Aroma has lots of lemon and melon and the taste follows with a slightly sweet finish.

Overall a nice beer and the best of the bunch from my last trip to Oxbow. 
Pros: 

Cons: 
Alcohol Content: 4.5% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: ★★★☆
Brewers Website: Oxbow
Brewers Description: 
A contemporary American grisette, an esoteric farmhouse ale style that was traditionally brewed in southern Belgium for thirsty coal miners. Heavily hopped with notes of citrus and fresh cut grass. Saison yeast  and light malts keep this ale light and crushable.

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651. Burlington Beer C’est Bon

Burlington Beer C'est BonBurlington Beer recently started selling growlers of their beer after being open for several weeks of tastings only. I had been by to sample all of the beers during the weeks leading up to growler sales and then made the trip with two friends. We sampled both the C’est Bon (saison) and Hills and Hollows (pale ale) and each of us left with a growler of C’est Bon.

This is an incredibly drinkable yet complex saison with a low 4.7% ABV. Appearance is a pale orange with a fluffy white head. Aroma is a pleasing mix of grain, citrus and peppery spice. Taste follows with the same light citrus, spice and a bit of lemongrass with a nice clean finish.

C’est Bon is an excellent example of the saison style and makes for a very refreshing beer. If you have not been to Burlington Beer yet than make the trip and enjoy.
Pros:
Complex and very drinkable
Cons: 
Alcohol Content: 4.7% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Burlington Beer
Brewers Description: 
C’est Bon is complex aromatic and satisfying farmhouse ale.

Inspired by rustic French farmhouse style ales. Brewed with Barley, Wheat, Rye, and Flaked Maize. Fermented with our house blend of Saison yeasts for a complex, aromatic, thirst quencher.

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616. Foundation Brewing Eddy

FoundationFoundation recently launched their brewery in Portland with two beers; Eddy a saison and Blaze a heavily hopped saison. Both are excellent beers but I opted for a growler of Eddy partly because I was on a trip to 7 different breweries the stopped in and I knew I would be coming home with several growlers of beer. Eddy being the less hoppy beer should hold up better than Blaze.

Being a saison it has a small amount of funk from the yeast and almost no bitterness. It also has a crisp dry finish that works very well with food. Appearance is a nice light orange with a single finger white head. Aroma is earthy and very crisp. Taste follows with a slightly spicy, earthy flavor that finishes clean.Eddy is a beer that works well on its own or with a meal and I can see why so many restaurants and bars have added it to their draft list.

If you have not been to Foundation yet I recommend you make the trip. The brew system is truly impressive and Joel and John are both great guys. At the brewery you can taste both beers and possibly even some varieties of these beers and take home a growler of your favorite.
Pros:
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 5.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Foundation Brewing
Brewers Description: Eddy is a farmhouse style ale, also known as a Saison.  Bright and lively, this beer is dry, light in body and color, but not in taste.  We add hops that bring herbal and floral notes that meld with the spice and fruit flavors of our house yeast.  These characteristics make for a beer that is delicious on its own or in the company of food.

While it is a perfect beer to enjoy with classic summertime fare such as lobster and seafood, Eddy’s refreshing bitterness cuts through the richness of more casual fare, such as burgers and pizza, making it an excellent accompaniment year round.

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604. Pretty Things Beer Jack D’Or

Pretty Things Jack D'OrAs you can probably tell I was on a bit of a saison kick for a few days and this was the last of the bunch I drank. This one was similar but lacking the brett funk of the last two.

This one pours a light orange color with a single finger white head. Aroma has some citrus, lemon and earthy notes but overall is pretty mild. Taste follows but adds some floral hops that are not apparent in the aroma.

Pretty Things describes this a table beer, something simple, drinkable and enjoyable and I have to agree. This is an excellent beer on its own or with a meal. 
Pros: 

Cons:
Alcohol Content: 6.5% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 57
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Pretty Things
Brewers Description: “Jack D’Or” is a simple table beer, or “Saison Americain” as we’re referring to it. We are not trying to coin a beer style – we’re just having fun.  The Jack D’Or (pronounced “Jack Door”), is at the very center of Pretty Things and nearly three years on we’re still pleased as punch that he joined us!

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