Some of you might have forgotten that I have a blog. The thing is, I’ve been having plenty of new beers, but I’ve tried them in inconvenient places for blogging. When you’re out with a group, it’s difficult to bang out a blog on your smartphone…and when I get home from these outings, the last thing I feel like doing is running to the computer and throwing a blog together.
I’m going to try something a little different today – I’m going to have beer for my breakfast and lunch. I haven’t eaten anything yet today, and the idea of normal breakfast food isn’t really appealing to me, but the idea of a beer seems pretty right, so I’m going with it. Today I’m drinking Saison Cazeau, an obscure 5% ABV saison/farmhouse ale from the Brasserie de Cazeau in Belgium. This light, hopefully-flavorful beer should allow me to do things with the rest of my day rather than be forced to take a nap.
Cazeau is a random saison I bought on a whim from an online shop – unfortunately, I haven’t seen this bottle anywhere in South Florida. It seems to be a pretty down-the-middle saison, except that it’s brewed with elderflowers as an adjunct to the typical water, malt, hops, and yeast. Such additions are not uncommon for saison brewers – these were (and in some cases still are) ales brewed at farmhouses for sustenance. The farmhouse brewers would throw pretty much anything into the brew kettle. Spices, dandelions and all manner of flowers and herbs, you name it. The addition of elderflowers here is just a nod to that rustic-brewing tradition.
Poured into an oversized wine glass, Cazeau shows a billowing, mountainous white head, and a sparkling white-gold body. Pours from the bottom of the 750ml bottle will undoubtedly show more sediment, but for now this is a very clear beer.
The aroma is excellent, and powerful for a relatively weak beer. I’m getting bright, lemon-peppery Saaz hops first of all. Then, as it warms I’m getting lots of meaty porcini mushroom, pretty cool…..definite earthy, savory aromas going on here. Meadow grasses and flowers as it warms further. This is the kind of beer I can sit and sniff for a while.
It’s a bracingly dry beer. Lots of earthy bitterness up front and on the back end, and I’m not sure *all* of that bitterness comes from hops. I’d like to macerate some elderflowers and taste them so I can tell if that’s actually what I’m tasting. Very peppery in the finish, as would be expected from this style. The mouthfeel is amazingly soft and light, with strong carbonation scraping the palate. Did I mention that this is bone-dry? I’m not tasting much residual malty sweetness at all, which, along with the lively mouthfeel, makes for quite the summer refresher.
Typical of most saisons, Cazeau would make an outstanding table beer. Saisons are the whores of beer/food pairings; they have flavor hooks for pretty much anything you can throw on a table. You could do this with a backyard BBQ, pasta dinner, smoked salmon, or cheese plate – but I suspect this would really shine with spicy foods – Thai and Mexican. I’m thinking adobo pork burrito or Thai steak salad. Those are my suggestions, but honestly, the sky’s the limit with this style.
This saison is not currently available in the South Florida market, but I would urge you to pick up one of the following and experiment with food pairings. Saisons are great by themselves, but they really shine with food. Don’t be shy. They can handle anything from salads to tart, citrusy desserts.
Some saisons readily available in South Florida:
Dupont Foret Organic Saison
Dupont Biere de Miel
North Coast La Merle