I've been enjoying the Hoppy Saison I brewed back in November one on tap for more than a month now, but I'm just getting around to putting the description down on (internet) paper. I think it turned out pretty well, the appearance in particular is striking (just look at that head!). This beer is a great example of how simplicity (2 malts, 1 hop, 1 yeast) can create complexity that you cannot get by adding every malt available at the homebrew store. Brew simple!
Hoppy French Saison
Appearance – Stiff-peaks-egg-white-head, with enough stability for it to sit above the rim of the glass for a couple minutes while I took pictures. Terrific retention, thick lacing, probably the best head of any beer I have brewed. Sitting beneath the head is a clear, golden yellow, sunshine body.
Smell – Some nice herbal/spicy saaz notes mingle with the fruity (pear, hints of banana) yeast character. Not as much peppery-ness as I would have expected from a saison yeast, but there is a bit hiding behind the hops and esters.
Taste – The combination of spice and fruit from the nose continues in the mouth. Nice solid rustic bitterness on top of a slightly bready malt base. There is even a touch of malty/honey sweetness, surprising, but not unpleasant. Just a hint of ethanol on the end, with the high attenuation this ended up at 6.5% ABV.
Mouthfeel – Moderate carbonation, more body than the low FG (1.002) would suggest. Could be more carbonated, but my tap system seems to be knocking out most of it (thus the huge head). No astringency, just a nice crisp dry finish.
Drinkability & Notes – A perfect ray of sunshine on a dark winter night, easy to drink yet plenty complex. Works well as a breather when there are so many strong/dark/thick/boozy beers to try this time of year (not that I am complaining). A warmer ferment would have gotten this more saison-like, but I think it is great as is (Belgians aren't exactly style obsessed). It will be interesting to see how this beer works with the big, dark saison we pitched onto the yeast cake.