Monday, August 16, 2010

Strange Brew: St. Somewhere Saison Athene

My friend and fellow blogger, the Sassy Crafter, shared an article with me that she found online about a Tarpon Springs, FL-based brewery, Saint Somewhere. They're tiny and specialize in Belgian ales, which I have recently discovered. So it was with great delight that I found a bottle in my local beer shop, Dorn's. To add to the excitement, it turned out to be a saison - a style of beer I have only just heard of and of course had never tried. Two birds with one stone: Florida brewery AND new style of beer!
First, what's a saison? Brewed in the French-speaking part of Belgium, it's a "farmhouse" style ale, meaning in the "olde" days, ye regular folk made this type of beer in the winter and had it ready to drink by summertime. Don't think this means "lightly refreshing summer beer," in the style of a wheat beer or--heaven help us--a Bud Lime. According to beer god Michael Jackson, a saison is a "sharply refreshing, faintly sour, top-fermenting brew, sometimes dry-hopped, often bottle-conditioned, 5.5 - 8 by volume."
Being the kind of girl who buys wine for the pretty labels, I have to admit that the label on the Saint Somewhere Saison Athene made it all the more appealing. A pretty girl-fairy soars over a Southern-looking locale (evidenced by the palm and citrus trees, and well, the fact they're based in Tampa). Very Mucha, Belle-Epoch-looking stuff. You can (sorta) see from their web site that their other brews have similar labels.*
This is a big bottle - I got almost four pint glasses out of it. And it's not "light," per se - 7.5% (for comparison, a Sam Adams summer ale is 5.20%). And the taste?
Not that I had any expectations, but ... I guess I must have, because this wasn't what I expected. Very sour, like a fuzzy, beery lemonade almost. With a lot of different flavors thrown in the mix for good measure. This is one complex brew. It kind of reminded me of a lambic - another Belgian beer. Very distinct, not at all "hoppy," even though hops are used. But I think, like lambics, this beer's hops were dry, because I didn't get that herbal, perfumey taste that I get from the popular American "hop bombs" (Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, as an example - to me, anyway; I'm not sure a "hop head" would think Sierra Nevada Pale Ale was sufficiently hoppy). What I did get was . . . funky. And I don't mean that in a necessarily bad way. Just really, really, really different.
Would I buy it again? No, not anytime soon, only because there are a lot of other new styles of beer I want to try. This is unusual enough that I wouldn't add it to my everyday repertoire (as I have, say, the Wacko summer ale).
* - The Saint Somewhere web site is all Flash (boo!) - which explains why I couldn't see anything when I first tried to look at it via my iPhone. The images are all very pixilated and they don't give individual descriptions of each style of beer they're currently brewing, instead relying on Beer Advocate reviews! What? You can't even simply type out what's on the back of the bottle? Even that would be better (wish I had the bottle here with me while typing this, actually). Not enough "story" on the brewery, either. At least it didn't have music.

Posted via email from Scurrilous Tosh

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