Tis The Saison...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Last weekend, I had the occasion to attend the World Expo of Beer in Frankenmuth, Michigan. I was supposed to have been attending a dinner with a group of Rotarians at the world-famous Zhender's restaurant. But...there was this big huge blue building. And it had all this beer in it...

My least favorite beer of the evening was an asparagus beer. It tasted like grilled asparagus. And that's it. Glad I tried it, and that's all I'll try.

I will try to intersperse, over the next few weeks, some reviews of some of the newer beers I had there. This week, in honor of Michigan's short burst of summery weather, I'll touch on New Holland Brewing Company's Golden Cap saison. I think I have made the statement before that I really like a good saison, and that as a "summer-time beer" I like saison better than a Belgian Wit or a German Weisse.

The tasting glass passed to me held a lazy, hazy, lightly yellow-straw colored beer with a thin but persistent pure white head. It looked inviting and refreshing, combining the best of summer sun and wheat-laden beer.

Golden cap had aromas filled with acidic and citrusy fruits, funky yeast, and a sweet malt character. Lemons, pears, pineapple, and tart green apples add the sweet-acidic aromas, followed by pepper and corriander to help give the hops a slight balance. It finishes with musty/yeasty notes of a nicely-aged saison.

Drinking the beer yielded the fruit flavors dominating the yeast and slight hop character. The beer is much more acidic and citrusy, with a hint of pepper over it all. Golden Cap is also pleasantly malty, helping cover over some of the funky yeast. As I sampled another (and another) Lemons and grapefruit flavors seemed to gain intensity.

Overall, Golden Cap walk a great line between dry and sweet, like a high-end white wine (for a third of the price!). Its medium body is balanced by a refreshing effervescence and while the citrus dominates, it still has enough malt to give it backbone and sweetness thus keeping it from being too tart. Overall, given the lean of this saison towards fruits and away from funk, I would say that Golden Cap is more approachable to a virgin saison drinker than the historic Saison Dupont. That said, a saison lover certainly won't be disappointed. I know for me, this beer will accompany many dinners this summer!


Bob 8:52 AM  

Mr. President:

So did you blow off the Rotarians or drag them to the beer Expo?

Smitty 9:07 AM  

A bit of both. I grabbed a couple of the 30-something Rotarians, who willingly and knowingly blew-off the Old Guard to go to the Expo.

Rickey Henderson 9:28 AM  

Rickey sincerely hopes you Rotarians remembered to assess each other fines!

Does asparagus beer make one's urine smell like normal asparagus does?

Sopor 5:41 PM  

Too bad I missed you there Smitty! Of course... in that crowd you could have missed the POTUS! That place was PACKED by the end of the night! Incredible! I had no idea the Frankenmuth Beer Expo was such an event! I kick myself for not having gone MANY times before... But let me tell ya, it was AWESOME getting in as a brewer! The VIP area included all the beer we could drink, and all the brewers my star-studded eyes could imagine! It was truly spectacular. And... I get to go to the Summer Beer Fest in the same capacity! WOOHOO!!!

I tried the Asparagus beer too... and had pretty much exactly the same reaction. On first sip, I thought "Hmm, interesting, not too bad..." Second sip "Eh, ok maybe not my thing." Third sip "UCK, where's the nearest dump bucket!" It was just WAY too much asparagus.

There were some mighty awesome brews there though! The Cherry-stout from Atwater was very good, much better than Bell's cherry stout IMO. I tried Stone's Levitation Ale which is I think the closest thing to chewing on a hop cone as I have ever tasted, it must have been LOADED with dry hops! Waldorf's Chai beer was very unique... wouldn't drink it often and didn't think the base beer was right for the spices, but it was yummy nonetheless! I tried something from Short's and cant' even remember what it was... but it was good. Had Weihenstephaner's Korbinian for the first time, classically good! Man I had a bunch more... I can't even remember what all I had!

Did you try anything from Mount Pleasant Brewing Co Smitty? =)

Sopor 5:54 PM  

Oh wait... were you there Friday or Saturday?

Sopor 5:44 PM  

Hey... check this[www.greatlakesbrewing.com] out! I had no idea that Great Lakes Brewing Co made a saison too! I just saw this today at Horrocks while I was picking up my Memorial Day beers.

This style seems to be getting more popular, and with good reason. I think they're wonderfully complex yet approachable by non-beer drinkers. I don't think a Bud fan is likely to enjoy a saison, but a wine drinker could probably appreciate them.

And New Holland's is a yummy version! I was glad when they moved it from the 22oz bottled High Gravity Series to the Seasonal six-packs. TECHNICALLY this is not the exact same beer... but then only difference is gravity, the 22oz version was stronger, and the six-pack version is MUCH cheaper.

Smitty 8:20 PM  

Hey Sopor...sorry for the delay. I was there Friday. Had a riot. I didn't see Mt. Pleasant...where did they tuck you? I saw Liberty Street, from Plymouth (MI, not MA!), which surprised me a bit.

Sopor 8:47 PM  

We were tucked right between Great Lakes Brewing Co and Founders, just a bit to the right as you walked in.

Sopor 9:57 PM  

But you're going to be at the MBG Summer Beer Fest, right? I'll be there representing MPBC too!

Smitty 7:42 AM  

Indeed, I will be at the Summer Beer Fest. Wouldn't miss it!

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