Tag Archives: Winter Saison

Day 11 – Brouwerij de Molen – Winter Saison

Today’s beer comes to us from the Brouwerij de Molen in the Netherlands.  It is a Winter Saison aptly named “Winter Saison”.  In the 2014 advent calendar, we had the chance to try their Winter Porter, take a read about that one here. The breweries name means “The Mill” and is located inside a historic windmill building called De Arkdulf, which was built in 1697.  As well as a brewery, they also have a retail business on site and a restaurant which creates food to pair with their beers.

Founded in 2004 by head brewer Menno Olivier, this brewery can produce 500 litres per batch with an annual production of 500 hectolitres.  The equipment at the brewery includes converted dairy tanks which are used as fermenters and the bottles are still capped and corked by hand.  Today the brewery can produce 2500 litres at a time and has an annual production of 6000 hectolitres due to the purchase of a new building 200 meters away from the mill.  One interesting thing about this brewery is that they do not dispose of unsatisfactory beer.  Instead, this beer is distilled into a “beer liqueur” at 20% abv and is then sold as well, reducing the spoilage of the beer, and allowing them to still make profit off bad batches.

Saison’s are a sturdy farmhouse style of beer.  Originally brewed in Wallonia, the French speaking part of Belgium, it was a beer brewed at the end of the cool season to last through the warmer months before refrigeration was common.  It had to be sturdy enough to be able to last but also not too strong so it would quench your thirst in the summer months.   This style of beer is very complex with a lot fruit notes, spices, and earth yeast notes to the beer.    They tend to combine nice fruity notes with spice and a subtle sourness or tartness.  Usually lots of spice with mild bitterness and a dry crisp finish and only a hint of sweetness.

At one point in time Saison’s were an almost extinct beer style but they have seen a great resurgence and are commonly brewed by several craft breweries across Canada.  This saison is described as being “saisonish” and has a few interesting additions to make it more suitable for winter. Giving it a bit of heat to warm you up are some Szechuan peppers. The brewers also added some mustard seed and juniper berries which will give it an interesting flavour as well. I’m interested to see how these flavours go with the typical saison style. Let’s see.

Appearance – Pours amber with a 1” head and some bits of sediment, likely from being bottle conditioned.
Smell – Smells of cracked pepper, subtle pear, some yeast funk and a little bit of spice on the nose.
Taste Tastes a little sweet on front with some of that subtle pear coming through. As you swallow it begins to shift to a bit of a that cracked pepper and then finishing with some heat from the Szechuan peppers.
Mouth feel – Light-medium bodied, medium carbonation and some spice on finish.
Overall I can see why this is saisonish. It’s a bit a of a fuller body and not quite as crisp or refreshing as some other saisons I’ve had. It certainly has some of those nice fruity notes, though a bit toned down, and a good helping of spice. There are certainly some saison components, but there are some things that don’t fit as well.
Do I like it?
– I found this beer to be interesting. The sweetness and fruit notes combined with the pepper and spice on finish made for a flavour experience. I’ve had beers with hot peppers before, this one hit the mark of having it be just a subtle note on the finish. Overall, I did enjoy it.

 

Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 22

Beer 22

The 22nd beer from the advent calendar was a Winter Saison produced by the gents at Rooie Dop, a brewery out of the Netherlands.  Interestingly enough, while these gents do brew small batches at their own brewery located in Utrecht, their large batches are brewed by the Brouwerij De Molen who produced our 19th beer!

Rooie Dop is a brewery that wants to make some flavourful and sometimes experimental beers.  They do a lot of collaboration with their beers and don’t really care about the rules for brewing particular styles of beer, they “care about flavor” as they say on their website.  The brewery was started y three friends some years ago.  Mark Strooker is the one who calles the shots at the brewery and is an IBU extremist according to his profile (I like this guy).  Overall the brewery sounds unique, creative, and over all talented based on being rated one of ratebeer.com’s 2013 best.

The beer we get to try today is a Winter Saison.  Again, Saison’s are broadly defined pale ales that are higher in alcohol content, highly carbonated and generally spiced.  They are traditionally a Belgian style of beer which means they include the wheat and barley malts which produce a creamier mouth feel.  This particular Saison is called “Final Countdown” and was produced using smoked malts and rye.  It was specifically made for inclusion in this year’s Advent Calendar and that is pretty exciting. Onto the beer!

Rating: 80/100

Appearance: Cloudy amber colored beer with good head that dissipates rapidly.
Smell: Smoke and apricot are right at the front.  Interesting combination that isn’t unappealing, actually.
Taste: Very smoky with a hint of fruit notes in there.  Sweet malty balance that goes well with the smokiness of the beer.  Reminded me a little bit of being at a  campfire though, which wasn’t wholly appealing, but not terrible either.
Mouth feel: Good carbonation, creamy mouth feel, light body.
Overall: Definitely a unique beer for me.  I’ve had smoked beers out of Germany before which taste like you are drinking the campfire.  This one was lighter and had that pleasant creaminess of a saison.  As a Saison I’d say it was good with a unique flavor balance and some risks taken that turned out pretty okay.
Do I like it: I enjoyed this beer for the risk that was taken in producing it.  Adding smoked malts to a saison is an interesting idea that I didn’t know if it would work.  Overall it worked well enough to taste good, but I wouldn’t drink it again.