Wednesday, December 18, 2013

582. Brouwerij West Saison Extra

The label features a cat playing pinball. Let me repeat that: a cat. Who is playing pinball. Pinball. Awesome. This beer is from Brouwerij West, which is located in San Jose, CA. Not surprisingly, they are Belgian-influenced; as they note on their webpage, “We make beer in classic Belgian style with mostly Belgian ingredients. Our beer is dry and refreshing. We make no IPA and have no barrel aging or spices.” While I’m not sure why barrel aging and spices are identified as outside of the “classic Belgian style” since both are a part of that tradition—unless this is a dig at American brewing’s love of wood and over-spicing—I do understand the choice not to make an IPA, although that is no longer shocking. Still, I’m willing to let it go if it gets me more labels like this one.

Saison Extra pours a hazy but brilliant gold; the head is thin and white, and disperses quickly, leaving tiny islands and a ring. In the nose, there is musty earth and fruit—pear, apple, and grape, to be specific—along with some candy Pilsner malt, followed by wafting hints of bitterness. As it opens up, there is bread crust and some floral esters that complement the other aromas. Flavors follow the nose, starting with candy Pilsner sweetness that dries out into bread crust and fruitiness. The middle is juicy and lightly bitter—sort of a dry, musty bitterness that is just short of oxidized paper, but in a good way—while the finish is cracker, pepper, and slightly spicy bitterness. The mouthfeel is bigger than I would like—it could be easily dried out several points to brighten and dry the beer on the tongue—and the carbonation is a bit low, although it does bite nicely in the finish. The bitterness in the finish cuts out some of the juiciness from the yeast, which Elli appreciates—she is not a fan of the juicier saisons, preferring those leaning towards Saison Dupont, although she is always game to try a new saison. For me, the base beer is good: I like the combination of cracker, candy sweetness, and mustiness. But I would like it better if the body was drier and the carbonation was brighter. Both would make this a stronger saison overall. Still, a pleasure to drink: I’d happily drink more, even without the cat label. 

From the Brouwerij West website: “Brouwerij West is excited to announce the release of our Saison Extra in 500 ml bottles. As always, we use only imported Belgian malt, German noble hops and our Brouwerij West yeast. We chose not to duplicate the standard ‘peppery/spicy’saison profile and instead go after bubble gum esters and noble hop aroma. Extra is Bright and malty, with a firm bitterness and a dry finish. Hazy gold in color.”

ABV: 6.5%
Bottle: 7483/10000


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