Stopped off at the old same bottle shop in Joliet and spotted cases of pumpkin beers at the head of the beer aisle. ’Tis the season for pumpkin and Octoberfest beers although it really isn’t the season. We’re not done with summer yet so don’t force autumn down our throats. There must be a reason why that they do this.
I’m not a big fan of those spiced up pumpkin beers and Octoberfest beers are just different takes on a Marzen lager style. Then when Thanksgiving and Christmas show up there are even more spicy beers to choose from.
I scanned the shelves looking for something that was neither pumpkin nor O’fest. My eyes fell upon a beer I had not yet had. It was from a familiar brewer, Allagash out of Portland Maine and I know they make good beer. But there are no Allagash beers from where I come from.
The beer weighs in at 6.1% alcohol. Although not truly considered a session beer it should fit the bill nicely for any warm summer day at any time. The beer is bottle conditioned true to the style and should have that tart citrusy characteristic that many saisons have.
I lifted the description right from Allagash’s website:
Allagash Saison is our interpretation of a classic Belgian farmhouse style. It is a golden hued beer, brewed with a 2-Row blend, malted rye, oats and dark Belgian candi sugar. Saison is hopped with Tettnang, Bravo and Cascade hops. Fermented with a traditional saison yeast strain, Saison exhibits notes of spice and tropical fruit in the aroma. Citrus and a peppery spice dominate the flavor and make way for a pleasant malt character. Saison is full bodied with a remarkably dry finish.
I guess that there’s a portion of drinkers everywhere that like dry beverages. To me it doesn’t really matter.
When the time came, I made my way to the Manly Garage and sat myself in the throne stool and popped open the first cold one.
The beer poured and it looked like champagne. The liquid was a very pale yellow color and the head was a perfect white as if it was an example on the Home Depot paint swatches for ‘brilliant white.’ The liquid was hazy and hard to see through. Man, I hope this isn’t one of those shandy chick beers. The aroma was pleasant and had a hint of light citrus.
The first sip was a bit odd. It had a medium to light mouthfeel and bit of a spicy rasp at the swallow. This was no chick beer although it could be. Some minute flavors of lemon and orange. This was a very easy drinking beer.
The traditional saison yeast characteristic that most saisons have is also present in this beer. The yeast says “Belgian” but we hear saison. That slight bit of spice and sweet yellow citrus makes this beer shine. Each sip is concluded with satisfying rasp and dryness and the exhale allows for another experience of citrus in the nose.
The malts used had to be of the very light or pale variety, judging by the light color of the liquid and where the dark candi sugar comes in I don’t know. There is nothing dark about this beer.
This beer, as stated on Allagash’s website is hopped with Tettnang, Bravo and Cascade hops of mixed alpha strengths but I believe that the Bravo and Cascade perk up this beer nicely with the citrus flavors that I was experiencing.
My stomach brought up a couple of burps and each time, the lemon flavor came back. I don’t really get that much lemon in tasting the beer but afterwards it was there in person. A beer so nice you can taste it twice. Very similar to a shandy. I made a mental note to compare a Lieinie’s Summer Shandy to this Allagash Saison. I’d bet the saison would come across as being brighter and more flavorful.
The beer is quite possibly on the lighter side of the saison ladder with Hennepin, Tank 7 and Opal coming in a bit heavier. But this Allagash beer would be perfect for a hot day out on the patio. Every sip goes down very easy. Each glass of this beer would light up a dimly lit room and light up everyone who is enjoying it.
If you haven’t yet tried this saison from Allagash, I urge you to do so. Your lady may even like it as well.
The SixPackTech summary for Allagash Saison Belgian Style Ale:
Style: Belgian style saison
Taste: Sweet, lemony, a bit tart, delicious.
Smoothness: You’ll get used to the rasp after the second sip.
Drinkability: Bring me more of this.
Bang for the buck: So-so, but ok I guess.
Amount paid: $11.99 per 4-pack of 12-ounce bottles.
Get it again? Perhaps if it goes on sale.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: It’s light. (sniff) Lemony. Even looks a little lemony. (sip) It has that lemon. ..(sip)Yeah I could see that on a hot day. If it was really hot and this was really cold I’d probably drink a little more of it. (That’s my girl! Hey, wait a minnit… Is this a CHICK beer?)
Rob Tod, founder of Allagash Brewing