It's #FloridaBeerFriday, when we take a look at a beer brewed in the Sunshine State, giving analysis to the burgeoning craft-beer movement of Florida.
Step right up, folks; it's time to get fussy. This week, we're taking a look at a beer that's off the depth charts in terms of union between Old World flavors and a New World methodology. Beer and wine collide with the Katelyn and Kaleigh Wine Barrel Aged Saison from Delray Beach's Saltwater Brewery.
The humble saison, once simply a farmhand's form of refreshment and nourishment for the summer months of northern France and Belgium, continues to be a style that brewers flock to produce, if only to put their own interpretation of the style in a glass.
Saisons are a wonderfully simple but complex beer when done correctly. The warm fermentation temperatures of the specially bred Belgian and French saison yeasts lend aromatic esters, pepper, and spice. Grains and hops used are basic, usually touching upon use of pilsner malts and an effusive amount of hops (including dry-hopping) from Europe to give an earthy-but-lemony spring to their step. Some may even add "bugs," in the form of Lactobacillus and their kin, to give it a little bit of the funky treatment.
Saltwater Brewery has instead taken a solid and standard saison, brewed to about 5.4 percent alcohol by volume, and aged it in wine barrels. The result?
The saison pours with a big, frothy, slightly off-white head, with body color a shiny, radiant shade of impressively clear sunshine golden orange. The aroma strikes with a hit of wine aromas: distinct Chardonnay must, fruity apple, and a hint of minerality make themselves known. The flavor begins with a slightly dry, cider-like character, moving through crisp apple, a full beer-like middle, and a big saison yeast finish that lingers. It's sweet enough to not be overpowering, most likely due to the absorption of a lot of wine flavors from the barrel.
Overall, this barrel-aged saison is a killer sipper, and with such a low alcohol by volume, the complexity of this beer can intrigue your senses for a few glasses.
Currently available at the Atlantic Avenue taproom, the Katelyn and Kaleigh Wine Barrel Aged Saison will also be available at Green Bench Brewing's 2nd Annual Foeder for Thought, going down in St. Petersburg on March 13.
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Doug Fairall is a craft beer blogger who focuses on Florida beers and has been a homebrewer since 2010. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow him @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Instagram.