Smuttynose Brewing Co.
Available: ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA, MD, DE, VA, OH, WI, NC, SC, GA, FL, DC
This saison-style beer, or “country ale” is native to the French/Belgian border region, brewed to quench the thirst of farm workers, or “saisonaires.” It is fermented with a Belgian saison yeast, and is one of the beers in the Smuttynose Big Beer series. All Smuttynose beers are unfiltered and vegan friendly.
Original gravity: 1068
Good start: an appealing yellow-peachflesh color, slightly cloudy, with a spicy-sweet aroma edged about with tart apricot and nectarine. There's no 'farmhouse funk,' but the spice and tart edge serve admirably to refresh, and there's a clean-up bitterness at the end. It's a well-made beer, if not particularly daring. What is does have is a surprising fruitiness, more than I'd expect in a saisony type, and it works brilliantly with this extra-sharp cheddar because of that. Glad I have another bottle; I've just found something to fill my afternoon.
The nose of this bright golden ale has all the nose-prickling, peppery spiciness you would expect of a saison, along with a dry, almost musty hoppiness and a mild suggestion of grandma’s gardening gloves. In the body, however, it is anything but dry, kicking off with a luxurious maltiness holding hints of dried apricot and buckwheat honey, leading to a full, spicy body that gradually grows less fruity and more funky and spicy, adding white pepper and SweeTarts candy notes to the mix. (Do they still make SweeTarts?) The ale finally reveals its ample alcohol in a dry, appley finish. A roast beef on rye with a bottle of this and I’ll be ready to return to the fields. Or bed. One of the two.