FlacoAlto (3450) - Tucson, Arizona, USA - MAR 10, 2013
3.8 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
A steady pour into my Teku glass produces a three finger thick, lightly brown tinged, dark tan colored head; the head is quite fluffy, with good staying power, and it leaves some light lacing on the sides of my glass. The beer is a concentrated brown color, that for a Saison is certainly black; when held up directly to the light the beer shows a slightly hazed, almost opaque, concentrated amber hue. The aroma is a mix of yeast derived fruit notes and smoke character; sort of smells like sweet, almost floral, smoked dark plums, raisins, and concord grape juice. The smoke character is kept at a low enough level to be noticeable, but to not clash with the yeast character. If you really dig for it, the finish has notes of clove, and a plastic / medicinal / cleaner hint to it. As the beer warms up the smokiness melds with a nutty, toasted, brown-whole-grain character that accentuates the wholesome, savory quality that the aroma has. The whole grain character gets more pronounced in the nose as the beer warms up, and the smokiness seems to get reduced a bit, but this may just be sensory familiarity.
Fairly dry up front, and the beer is quite effervescent as it moves across the palate; roasted malt notes provide a touch of burnt bite, this has a soft, pervasive, palate coating smokiness to it that remains quite smooth through to the finish where it gets a little sharp as it combines with some yeast derived phenolics. A rounded fruitiness, though not perceived in the first sip or so, becomes much more characterful after a bit of time; notes of sweet, dark plums, hints of raisins, and a fruity, not quite Concord, grape like note is also here. A touch of spice charcter in the finish adds some pepper in the finish, and melds well with the smoky notes. The body of this beer is quite light, the smokiness seems to add a creamy texture to the palate, but this is certainly a quaffable beer overall. The finish has a nice, smooth, charred malt character to it that lingers a bit on the palate along with the fruit, the smoke, and the touch of phenolic notes. Perhaps a touch of clove character is here, and this has a nice brown bread wholesomeness to it.
My guess is that the popular, French Saison yeast was used for this beer (definitely has the character profile of this yeast), while it is really easy to work with, it tends to not have nearly as much character as some of the other, perhaps more classic Saison yeast strains; here the smokiness adds an extra dimension to the beer that might otherwise be a bit simplistic. I was definitely a bit worried about combining smoked malt and phenolic yeast notes, but this has been done well here; the smokiness is not so strong, and the phenolic notes are light enough that these two don’t combine in an offensive way. This is definitely a beer that I am quite enjoying. This beer is extra enjoyable for the simple fact that it has combined Saison and Smoke so well, this definitely sets the bare, and the next one of these I have will have lost that “new-sheen” that this one has.
anders37 (12738) - Malmö, SWEDEN - APR 7, 2013
3.5 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 15/20
Draft @ the brewpub. Pours a dark amber color with a small off-white head. Has a slightly roasted malty spicy yeasty caramel aroma with weak hints of dark fruit. Slightly roasted sweetish malty spicy yeasty caramel and dark fruit flavor. Has a fruity malty spicy yeasty caramel finish.
madvike (2077) - Middleton, Wisconsin, USA - MAR 9, 2013
4.2 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 17/20
Bottle shared by cptnspeed1--thanks Brad! - Pours dark brown with a thin light tan head. Nose is really mellow--meaty, dry smoke with a dry, lightly fruity saison yeastiness underneath. Taste has more tropical fruitiness up front, with the dry smokiness coming through on the finish. Really mellow and well-integrated, with a nice gentle yeastiness. Gentle body with smooth carbonation. Wow...this was really good.
SDalkoholic (1768) - Chula Vista, California, USA - FEB 28, 2013
3.8 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 16/20
Bottle from Bine and Vine: When I picked this bottle up, I really didn’t pay much attention to what the label read other than it was an anniversary ale from Beachwood which I did not want to miss, but all I was aware of that it must have been a Belgian style because of the bottling. I was surprised to see it was a dark brown liquid and I determined I would be drinking a dark Belgian ale, but upon taking a whiff with my nose I was shocked to find remnants of spicy Belgian yeast that smelled more like a witbier and perhaps even a saison. Aroma is mild with a soft touch of spiced yeast that also brings out scents of crushes coriander seed, slight chance of orange peel and that weird funky aroma when you open a can of black olives. Created a colossal formation of tick head which was similar to Swiss cheese because of how many holes showed up in foam but it quickly retreated leaving behind a dark brown liquid. The drink is lightly smoked and takes on a rauchbier profile while still allowing room for the spiced Belgian yeast. Interesting black saison but it did require few tweaks to fully round this beer out.
BMan1113VR (7379) - Los Angeles, California, USA - FEB 27, 2013
3.5 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 14/20
On tap. Pours with a clear, very deep brown hued body with a frothy, off-white head. Aromas are mildly smokey, grainy, a hint of sulfur, esters, dry apple, light phenol, clove and black pepper. Flavors are smokey, dry, leathery, grainy, cracked pepper, earthy. Mild phenol. Lively carbonation, medium-light bodied, dry and lightly bitter.
toxichop (163) - South Gate, California, USA - FEB 18, 2013
3.1 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 5/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 13/20
Bottle from Ramirez Liqour. A: Black with a half inch tan head. S: Light notes of spices, metallic notes, citrus peel, yeast, grains, and some bacon. T: Light spices, with light smoke and dark malt, im picking up this odd metallic note that is not enjoyable, citrus peel and esters. M: light creamy with soft carbonation light bitterness with a slighty dry finish. O: really easy to drink but expected more smoke and I just wasnt truly getting it.
Ibrew2or3 (5761) - Tempe, Arizona, USA - FEB 2, 2013
4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
Big thanks to Sparky for sharing this. The bottle pours mahogany with a tan head of foam. The aroma is malt sweetness and then a thicket of smooth sugary bacon with a light saison yeasty spiciness in the background. The taste offers up smooth yummy subtle bacon goodness followed by a modest degree of various saison like spicy notes. It ends with a pleasing mild dryness. I like the way the smooth bacon mingles with the saison notes. Nice stuff.
daknole (7204) - Scottsdale, Arizona, USA - JAN 27, 2013
4.4 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
Julian does it again. Damn right. Spot on! Nice dark pour, creamy head. Kick ass smoke and just enough spice to keep this balanced and crazy interesting. Nice brew.
JohnC (3000) - Mission Viejo, California, USA - JAN 1, 2013
4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
A huge thanks to Julian for sharing this on New Year’s Eve. This black pour has a nice smokey flavor combined with malty complexities. Very tasty.
womencantsail (6896) - Garbage Grove, California, USA - DEC 23, 2012
3.5 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
Black in color with a khaki head. Roasted malt, light smoke, grass, and yeast up front on the nose. A bit of toasted malt sweetness, citrus peel, and spice. A subtle fruit aroma and flavor, particularly of figs. Slight bitterness to the flavor along with plenty of yeast and roast. Very light smoke, mostly just roast and char. Some dark fruits, citrus peel, and spice/black pepper. Dry on the finish, nice carbonation.