In the ceaseless quest to find The Perfect Beer, when I came across a saison from the vaunted New Belgium Brewing Co (otherwise known as The Makers of Fat Tire) brewed with prickly pear and passion fruit juices, it didn’t take too much coaxing for me to buy. Brewed with an ale yeast hailing from France, this should at the very least be crisp and refreshing.
I’ve never eaten a prickly pear; all I know is that it grows on a cactus in the deserts of the American Southwest and Mexico. However, I’ll go way out on a tenuous limb, and guess that it tastes something like a pear.
It shows a bit of a lazy foam crown, kind of a limp, generic-looking beer. I find it lame that New Belgium doesn’t bottle-condition these beers, and filters them. This neutering lends the beer a somewhat dull appearance. Saisons in particular should be Living Beer, they should practically jump out of the glass and “look alive out there.”
There’s passionfruit, pear, and a mild funky sock in the aroma, which is not too different from the aromatics one typically pulls from Belgian-style blondes, even those brewed without fruit.
Continuing with the theme of the aroma, I’d be hard-pressed to say this was brewed with fruit, as it tastes like any number of other Belgian blondes, without showing the peppery dryness of those I consider to be the best examples. Some sweet pear, banana, and cotton candy upfront; those are very typical flavors. Generic grain-husky aftertaste. The mouthfeel of this force-carbonated beer lacks the silky texture of the finer Belgians.
It may seem as if I’m being too hard on this, and in a sense, I am. This really isn’t THAT bad of a beer. It’s just that for me, it’s in a tough style category with lots of heavy hitters to compare it against – and I’m notoriously picky about what I want my saisons to be. I want bone-dry, peppery and tart. In that sense, it falls way short. As this is a fruit beer too, I’d also want to see more upfront identifiable fruit character. I don’t get any passionfruit, which is a shame as it might have provided a nice tart counterpoint to the upfront sweetness.
If you find yourselves in Colorado, give this a try. I have a feeling that a lot of people would like this beer if they tried it, as it is somewhat fruity-sweet. If I wanted pear flavor, though, I’d probably just grab La Fin Du Monde or Westmalle Tripel, both of which have it without being brewed with it, and lend better texture and nuance.