Wednesday, May 12, 2010

316. Jandrain-Jandrenouille Saison IV

Our first beer from Brasserie de Jandrain-Jandrenouille in Jandrain-Jandrenouille, Belgium. As you can see, there is not much to their website, but then again, some things are more important than web presence, like making good beer. At the same time, however, that means we have to rely on other information found on the internet, which is dodgy at best. Go the internet!

Saison IV pours a clear gold with a mousse-y bitter head; the nose is spicy mixed with yeast esters, paperiness, bitterness, and soft malt. Starting with a dry flat malt that is crackery and papery, Saison IV moves into a lightly bitter and slightly caramel sweet middle before moving into a leathery finish accompanied by more paper and some lingering bitterness along with low levels of spiciness. As it warms, there are some chamomile flavors accompanying the spiciness that develop in the middle and on into the end. The mouthfeel is quite drying; it is a combination of the highly attenuated body mixed with the hop bitterness and the papery flavor components. There is also some chewiness, even though the body is a bit soft. The carbonation starts soft, but ends bright and lively on the palate, accentuating the spiciness and the dry papery characteristics. Saison IV is light and dry across the palate and flavor profile, but has good complexity and nuance. An excellent and well-crafted beer; we hope to find more bottles of this to try again.

From the random website I found that had some marginal discussion of Saison IV: “The Fourth Season is brewed by Stephane Meulemans and Alexander Dumont in a beautiful farm in Brabant Wallon. This season kind beer 6.5% alc. has a beautiful golden color. The hops used in brewing its beer to make a fruity and refreshing, balanced by good bitterness.” The above was translated via Google, since my French is not so good (and by not so good, I mean non-existant); the original reads: “La IV Saison est brassée par Stéphane Meulemans et Alexandre Dumont dans une très belle ferme du Brabant Wallon.Cette bière de type saison de 6.5% alc. a une belle couleur dorée. Les houblons utilisés lors de son brassage en font une bière aux arômes fruités et rafraîchissants, balancés par une bonne amertume.” Exactly.

ABV: 6.5%

I also attended the Stone Vertical Epic ’03-’09 tasting at Brewtensils (Elli let me go this one alone)—seven of them in all, all in one night. Yes, I felt a bit slow the next day. Here’s the rundown:

Yours truly getting his sniff on...

03/03/03: Hazy copper color with an ivory head; the nose was sweet caramel with a slight amount of yeast esters accompanied by Belgian candy and some dark fruit. Flavors begin with caramel in the front, along with some yeast characteristics and rich malt complexity as it moves into the middle. The finish is mellow and smooth; there is almost no alcohol flavor or warmth—this has certainly mellowed and the flavors have married with time. The mouthfeel is chewy with a medium carbonation; some alcohol flavor does emerge as it gets warm, but still very smooth and rounded. Overall, a good beer, but I’m not sure how much better it will get. It is not that distinct anymore and, as Jeff observed, it is a bit flabby. Still, 03/03/03 tastes like a very drinkable barleywine.

ABV: 8.2%
IBU: 48

04/04/04: Pours a hazy gold, but relatively clear with a nice white head. The nose is very much that of a Belgian strong ale: slightly metallic with some butter and a nice aromatic and creamy malt character. Beginning with a soft malt front, it moves into herbal and yeast ester flavors in the middle, with possibly just a touch of bitterness. The soft mouthfeel and medium carbonation help smooth this beer across the palate; there is a little alcohol heat at the end, especially as it warms. Very good as it it right now, and could certainly have some more life to it.

ABV: 8.5%
IBU: 35

05/05/05: This beer offers a big change from the last one; sitting a dark chocolate brown in the glass, and possessing a creamy tan head, 05/05/05 has a rich dark fruit nose that includes raisins, prunes, dates, figs, and cherries—basically, all of your pitted fruits, combined to create a complex and delicious olfactory experience. The flavors started sweet, and quickly dropped into the fruity middle—I’m guessing that there was some Special B used to help create the raisin, fig, prune, and dates flavors in this beer. There was also some earthy and leather tastes in the middle; the end lingers away softly—while it is not clean, it is very smooth. With a medium carbonation and the combination of a chewy mouthfeel and complex fruit flavors, this beer was a winner, and my favorite beer of the evening.

ABV: 8.5%
IBU: 45

06/06/06: So since this was a long evening of tasting and discussing, some of the beers got the short end of the stick in terms of the actual notes I recorded about each one. And sad to say, my good friend 06/06/06 did get shafted. I can tell you that this beer poured a clear dark brown with an ivory head, and had a creamy nose mixed with clove and phenolic spiciness as well as more subtle touches of dark malt and brown sugar. I’m guessing some of that brown sugar made it into the flavor profile, but I didn't write any of that down, although I did note that this was the most Belgian of the beers thus far in the evening. Not like any of these beers were losers, though.

ABV: 8.66%
IBU: 25-30

This was my table of misfits. I’m texting someone who cares.

07/07/07: This came out of the bottle a clear gold with a luscious white head and a nose full of peppery phenolics mixed with bubblegum and fruit—banana and apple, specifically, although the banana was very low. Flavor-wise, 07/07/07 started dry but sweet with a metallic flavor in the front and some juicy fruit flavors in the middle, followed by a return of the banana from the nose. There is also some warmth and spicy alcohol flavors that come out in the finish. The carbonation is medium, and is bright and sharp on the mouth. A good beer, but one that still tastes a bit young; while a good beer, some of the flavors could further marry and settle to make this a smoother beer.

ABV: 8.9%
IBU: 20-25

08/08/08: This hoppy Belgian golden ale is a clear gold with a white head; the nose is hoppy with spicy Belgian yeast ester aromas. This ones tastes a lot like Stone Cali-Belgique, but this one tastes much better; the spicy hoppiness merges well with the Belgian yeast characteristics. The medium body and medium carbonation work well with this beer; this one is just about right, and is my second favorite of the tasting—even though it got a bit of the short shrift with the notes, it is an excellent beer overall.

Say hello to our little friends...

ABV: 8.9%
IBU: 65

09/09/09: With roasty dark and rich malt notes along with spicy yet subdued coffee aromas, 09/09/09 has a big aromatic nose. Flavors open with a brown roasted malt front and move into a spicy middle with a little bit of dark chocolate and coffee roastiness that swings this beer towards home. There is some warmth from the alcohol, but this beer is very drinkable right now, with a good balance between flavors and mouthfeel; it will be interesting to see how this one holds up over time.

ABV: 8.6%
IBU: 50

Finally, because he can, Mike Schwartz brought along a couple of growlers out of his J. W. Lees ’06 Lagavulin Cask for everyone to try—not that we all needed more beer at this point in the evening. The nose on this one was peaty and malty with a good dose of Scotch still evident in the aroma. While the beer was nice and malty, there was still plenty of Scotch and oak to help build the body, as well as peaty and smoky flavors buried in the body. As well, some nice sherry notes had begun to develop via some of the oxidation in the cask. All in all, an excellent and enjoyable evening. Word.


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