There is hardly a better time than a nice family get together to pick up a few different bottles to try out. For my first time hosting a tasting, I went with the old standard selection criteria of: “Well I haven’t had it yet, and it looks interesting.”
Out of the bottle shop I came with a Saison Dupont, Bruery Mischief, and St. Bernardus Abt 12 (a crime I know to wait so long to try this one).
My initial thought of the Saison was “Wow this really is not as funky as I thought it would be.” Followed closely by, “Oh good it is not light struck” It was nice and refreshing, but there was not even a hit of barn yard funk or grassiness to it. The same opinion was shared by my tasting partner.
My personal experience with Saisons it quite limited admittedly.My only other touch point for the style was trying one bottle of this years Colette from Great Divide, where you could smell taste the hay just as easily as if you were rolling around on a barn’s floor. If Dupont is the gold standard for the style, I can seem myself picking up a few more examples before the weather turns cooler.
Our grilled meat (old fashioned burgers and dogs) was paired up with the Mischief. We tried to put our fingers on how to categorize it, and found ourselves stuck between a Pale Ale with Belgium Yeast, or a hoppy Light Belgium. What ever you called it, it was good. That much was for sure. It had just enough hop bite to take away any overall sweetness present, but not even to over power the drink, falling just to the hoppy side of balance.
The St. Bernardus came out just in time for dessert. Jim had had Westy XII when on vacation in Belgium, and we both were fans of Rochefort. Review wise, this is the one I had heard the most about, and while I was going into this tasting with an open mind, I would be lying if I said I did not have high hopes.
Letting it sit in the tulips for a bit, it had a nice nose to it, sweet, with the alcohol presence nicely hid. Taste wise though, I have to admit that I was not all that impressed. While it tasted like a good, actually very good Brown Ale, worlds better than what I remember of trying Corsendonk Brown Ale, it seemed to lack any of the complexities that made Rochefort so interesting to drink. Even letting it warm up a good while as we sipped the flavor profile did not really change all that much.