Today I’m drinking “Our Side,” a collaboration brew between the two “gypsy brewers” Stillwater Artisan Ales and Mikkeller. They are gypsy brewers in the sense that neither has an actual brewery, instead brewing at other breweries. It’s a cool concept. But anyway, I’ve had this one in the fridge for weeks, and it’s supposed to be a hoppy saison, so no time like the present. Without further blather….
And…..it’s a gusher. Ridiculous looking pour of mostly foam, as I poured from the 750ml bottle quickly to stop the gushing. It looks over-carbonated (thank you, Captain Obvious). Oh well, it doesn’t look like I lost too much beer. In the glass, the crazy foam looks coarse, with plenty of big bubbles that recede to a thumbnail-sized cap. The body is a hazy orange, as the sediment in the bottle became pretty shaken up with the gushing episode.
A cidery, citric funk aroma filled my kitchen as the beer gushed. In the glass, the nose is more restrained, but I’m definitely getting substantial hop aromas of blood orange, pine, lemon zest, guava and passion fruit. Some notes of catty, leathery Brettanomyces influence.
Wow, this is one dry beer. The yeast strain used here clearly ate up all the available fermentable sugars. It reminds me somewhat of the Trappist Orval, with bright, bitter medicinal hops right up front giving way to that dry spiced-leather Brett finish. But here, the hops are brighter, owing to the American and New Zealand varietals that I’m guessing were used. I get a lot of lemon zest and orange, and a whole lot of white pepper. This is pretty much what I want out of a saison – super-dry, bright hop character, some underlying funk.
Based on the Mt. Vesuvius-like action of the bottle upon opening, I was worried about over-carbonation, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem. It is highly carbonated, of course, and gives a rather spiky mouthfeel, but no more so than would be expected from a saison/farmhouse-style ale – these should feature lively carbonation.
This is on the strong side at 7.5% ABV, but owing to its dryness and high bitterness, it really refreshes the palate and makes for some easy drinking. It would also be an excellent food beer – I’d throw it against any cheese as this is going to have the ability to lift fat off the palate, and the earthy funk should dovetail well with that of the cheese. As for the table? Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese – oh yeah. This is going to stand up to spicy foods in a way that wine, and even many other beers short of spicy Belgians and IPAs, wouldn’t dare.
I don’t think this is currently available in the South Florida market, but look for the following reasonable facsimiles:
The Bruery – Saison De Lente
Brasserie Dupont – Saison Dupont