This series of Rustic Saisons started with the name "Les Saisons." This is usually the opposite for us, since naming our beers is a struggle and is usually done after the beer is made, but that's another post. The name is really just an easy play on words since "Saison" means "Season" in French. Our spin is that we will be using strains of Brettanomyces and different hop varieties to incorporate the essence of the season.
Since we enjoyed the profile we got from the barrels Nicene fermented and aged in, we knew right away that we could guide Les Saison in a similar direction. We didn't want this beer quite as tart as Nicene (still a splash to add a crisp note) and wanted it more in line with the profile of rustic European Saisons being brewed today. We used a simple grist of Pilsner, Munich, Aromatic, and Flaked Rye. The flaked rye adds some extra protein for a decent body in the finished product.
Flowers, soil after a good rain storm, grass, chaparral, and herbs all come to mind when we think of springtime. We saw this theme of earthy flavors that still have a bright floral component translate to beer quite nicely. We are lucky enough to have a large selection of Brett strains in our house library that could be used to match the spring time flavors. We picked White Lab's Brettanomyces Bruxellensis (Brett Brux), a strain well known for providing earthy or farmhouse notes that remind us of damp earth after a rain storm.
Next, we wanted to build on that profile with a big dry hop addition immediately before being packaged. The idea with this addition, is that we want some flavor evolution in the bottle. Meaning when this beer is first released, the hop addition will be a major component in the profile, but with time it will fade and allow the Brettanomyces flavors to dominant. And somewhere in the middle it should be difficult to tell if the flavors you are tasting are hop or yeast derived. As for the hops, we chose a blend that combines very traditional, noble hop flavors with brighter, New World flavors. We chose a combination of East Kent Goldings, known for its floral, almost rose-like notes and Hallertau Blanc to add that fruit component.
This batch was aged in neutral French oak barrels (second use after Nicene) to pick up some mouthfeel building tannins and some acidity from the leftover house bugs). Future renditions of Les Saison will be aged in our new 30 BBL American oak foeders, so we can have more to enjoy each season.
The bottles have been conditioned with a nice high level of effervescence and will be available in the tasting room and select retailers this Friday, April 1st (no joke).
Jeff "Wild Man" Crane