Off to Joliet for another beer run. I didn’t have my hopes up too high. I was tapped out on all the session beers and wanted to give the IPAs a rest. What was left? I had half a notion to get another pilsner style and compare it to that Rahr Imperial Pilsner that I had a couple of weeks back just to see if I was way off base on the taste of the style. If I did buy another pilsner, what would it prove? Either I was wrong or Rahr was. So what?
I strolled the shelves at the store making two round trips. I finally settled a style of beer that I was intimately familiar with and its was from a reputable brewer. The beer was called Sonnet from Southern Tier. It was a saison. (I still remember their Choklat. Best ever.)
The bottles were shaped like a traditional bomber, but a bit larger. On the label was an old hot air balloon from the Victorian era.
That would be my choice. I paid the man and made my way home in the Mighty but still leaking Tundra. Into the freezer they went for a half hour; then in the fridge for 3 hours. They’d be ready for me when the time came.
Supper was over and I was gathering images for this report and the urge for the saison was becoming harder to control. Now. I’d do it now. I couldn’t wait. Did I get my point across?
Ready. Set. GO!
The glass filled with a hazy orange-yellow liquid along the lines of pineapple-orange juice. A nice white head floated on top. Carbonation was masked by the translucency. The aroma was of lemon Lifesavers or thereabouts.
The first sip was amazing. There was a nice medium mouthfeel and plenty of crystal or pilsner malt. Or both. This was a different saison than what I expected. Much tastier. I’d call it an Imperial Saison. That moniker should go on the label in my opinion.
But wait. It did. In a small red band on the label front, the simple description: “Belgian Style Super Saison” said it all. It also said, “Ale brewed with lemongrass.”
What is lemongrass?
Lemongrass is widely used as a culinary herb in Asian cuisine and also as medicinal herb in India. It has a subtle citrus flavor and can be dried and powdered, or used fresh. It is commonly used in teas, soups, and curries. It is also suitable for use with poultry, fish, beef, and seafood. It is often used as a tea in African countries such as Togo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Latin American countries such as Mexico.
It may taste like citrus but it looks like scallions.
Back to the beer at hand. All the usual flavors were there, lemon, tart, sweet, sharp at the swallow and then more flavors. The beer hit the style perfectly and then threw in a bit more. I’ve been drinking Ommegang’s Hennepin every so often and I know what it tastes like. I like it. But Sonnet is that same beer that goes up to eleven. The beer tasted more rounded and fuller yet still delivered all the basics that a saison beer should. I’m well pleased.
The beer comes in a 750ml bottle for $8.99. Bottles and kegs are unfiltered with a small amount of yeast in each container. With the taste of Sonnet on my tongue, I’m thinking you can’t get a better deal. Each sip tasted better than the previous one. Shall I go on?
I’d say that this saison style of beer has a more unique taste profile than a Belgian tripel or a Bierre de Garde. Two Brothers Brewery makes Domaine DuPage, a Bierre de Garde. Other than that, the style is hard to find. I’d like to sit down with a glass of Victory Golden Monkey and a glass of Southern Tier Sonnet just to compare. I’d bet I’d prefer Sonnet over the Monkey. But substitute a glass of Duvel tripel, and then all bets are off.
But it makes no sense to compare two different styles of beer regardless of the taste similarities. But showcasing similarities is a different story but worth telling. A porter and a stout. A lager and a pilsner. Budweiser and Miller High Life. (Pfft!)
I heartily recommend this beer to anyone who has a taste for citrusy beers without all the hops up in your face. I’d say it’s the best of the best in style and world class in taste. And you can’t beat the price for what’s in the bottle.
Style: French Farmhouse/Saison
Taste: Unbelievably delicious.
Smoothness: Beautiful with some slight tart rasp at the swallow.
Drinkability: Keep ‘em coming until the sandbag gets me.
Bang for the buck: Great. So much taste for the price.
Amount paid: $8.99 per 750ml bottle
Get it again? Abso-freakin’-lutely.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: (Sniff) It almost smells like orange but it’s got a little sweetness to it. Maybe apricot. (sip) It’s actually kind of smooth. (sip) A little tart. (sip) A little dry but no aftertaste. (I think she rung the bell on that one.)
Southern Tier Brewing Company [2:23]