Is Spring Saison Season?

Fortune released Spring Is Saison Season For Craft Brewers yesterday and the author seems to believe they are the new spring beer fad. I recall when the only representations of the style you could find were Saison DuPont and Fantôme. I remember the 1997 BJCP Style Guidelines and their description of Saison. Here it is:

Saison
A seasonal summer style of beer produced in the Frenchspeaking
part of Belgium. Sharply refreshing and faintly sour,
with a fruity nose, a pungent sourness and hop aroma. Often dryhopped.
Generally low malt aroma. Bitter but not assertively so,
the hoppy, fruity flavors of this style often include citric notes.
Distinctive orange color with a dense, rocky head. Light to
medium body. Alcohol level can be medium to high.
Commercial Examples: Saison DuPont, Saison Silly.

It was the same in the 1998 version of the guidelines. By 1999 they had improved dramatically:

Saison
Aroma: Fruity esters dominate the aroma. Complexity is often contributed by hop aroma, complex higher alcohols, herbs and spices, and phenols. Generally the malt aroma is low. No diacetyl. Appearance: Distinctive pale orange color with a dense, rocky head. Clarity is generally good.
Flavor: Bitter but not assertively so, providing a refreshing character. The hoppy, fruity flavors typical of this style may include citric notes, and often the addition of several spices and herbs. Hop bitterness is moderate, and hop flavor may be moderate to high but should not overwhelm fruity esters, spices, and malt. Malt character is light but provides sufficient structure for the other complex
flavors which may include a quenching tartness. No diacetyl.
Mouthfeel: Light to medium body. Very high carbonation with an effervescent quality. Alcohol level can be medium to high.
Overall Impression: A fruity, hoppy, highly carbonated, moderately strong, refreshing ale.
History: The style has origins in the traditions of the “March beer” brewed at the end of the cool season to last through the warmer months. It is now brewed year-round.
Comments: A seasonal summer style produced in Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium.
Ingredients: Pale malt dominates the grist, and a very small fraction of Vienna or Munich malt contributes a touch of color. Hop bitterness and flavor may be more noticeable than in many other Belgian styles, and Saison is often dry-hopped. A number of different spices and herbs may be used to add complexity, interest, and uniqueness to each brewery’s products.
Vital Statistics: OG: 1.055-1.080
IBUs: 20-45 FG: 1.010-1.015
SRM: 6-12 ABV: 4.5-8.1%
Commercial Examples: Saison Dupont, Moinette, Laforet, Saison Silly, Sezoens.

It was those guidelines which were in effect when I brewed a 3rd Place BOS beer which is still the base recipe I work from when I brew a Saison.

Saison – 5 gallons
11 lb. Belgian pale
0.75 lb. Wheat malt
4 oz. British crystal 75L
0.5 oz. American chocolate
0.75 lb. Cane sugar (in boil)

150° F 60 min
168° F 10 min

1.5 oz. Hallertauer (4.25% AA, 60 min.)
0.5 oz. Saaz (aroma)

At end of boil add (after processing in a coffee grinder):
0.5 oz Coriander
A few flakes of dried orange peel
A few crushed black peppercorns

White Labs 565 Saison Yeast.
Ferment at 70° F

OG 1.072
FG 1.012
IBU 22

In reality it is not a new style and really hit the homebrew world after Markowski published Farmhouse Ales in 2004. Ever since the publication of that book homebrewer’s have been religiously making the style. This is actually one case where commercial breweries lagged homebrewers, but today many breweries make the style. I checked a beer rating site and they have over 4,000 Saisons listed and considering in 2011 there were about 9,000 breweries worldwide and today that number has to be closing in on 11-12,000 it would stand to reason every third brewery has a Saison in their repertoire. It is a popular style which will only become more popular. I’ve loved the style for a long time and I don’t see that changing. Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter the time is always right to enjoy a Saison!

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Should We Ban Airplanes?

This week one person killed 149 others by intentionally crashing an airplane. The Co-Pilot has been named as being solely responsible for the crash. He locked the Pilot out of the cockpit and set the controls to ground the plane. For US airlines at least two people must always be in the cockpit to avoid incidents like this and foreign airlines quickly added a similar rule after the tragedy.

Death by plane is somewhat rare, but couldn’t we solve the issue by simply eliminating the planes? Why isn’t everyone blaming the plane, instead they seem to have only focused on the person responsible for the plane. I heard one news report where they said there is a segment of the pilot population who may be depressed and could be prone to such incidents, but I’ve not yet seen anyone put the blame on the plane and seek to ban them. Piers Morgan (who we all know is a genius) has stated on more than one occasion that he wants to ban firearms, but he doesn’t seem to want to ban planes, his wish list seems to be around the cockpit and the pilots. If Piers, of all people, can realize it is only a small segment of the pilot population who are at risk for causing this type of tragedy, is it beyond the realm of possibility to realize firearms are not the issue, those who are not law-abiding citizens and who are mentally ill is where efforts should be focused. Lock up the criminals and identify and treat those with mental illness.

Highland Brewing 20th Anniversary Beers

2014 marked the 20th Anniversary for Highland Brewing Company in Asheville. To celebrate they released 20 beers and four of them were bottled.

Highland20AnniversaryBeers

I collected all four of the bottled beers and held them until recently. The first release was Scotch Ale which was filled on 03/28/14 and was 8% abv. The second was American Saison which was filled on 07/08/14 and was 5.8% abv. The third was India Pale Ale which was filled on 09/09/14 and 6% abv. The last release was Weizenbock Ale which was filled on 12/11/14 and was 7.1% abv. All four were pretty boring and the Weizenbock was the best of the bunch with the IPA coming in second. I was very disappointed in the beers and was expecting better from the series. The Scotch was very light in the flavor department, the Saison was peppery, but not memorable. The IPA bitterness and flavor were muddy and not well-defined and the Weizenbock was too chocolately. You can still find these lurking on the shelves here and there. If you could catch a deal on the Weizenbock it would be worth your time to try, the rest need a serious kick in the pants to be interesting enough to deserve a second look. At any rate, congratulations to Highland for the anniversary and I am looking forward to the next 20!

HScotchHSaisonHIPAHWeizen

I.W. Harper Bourbon Returns To The US

It’s a case of you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone. I must admit my idea of Bourbon back in the day was a handle of whatever whiskey was least expensive and we’d mix it with sour mix or coke. I never really paid attention to the higher end Bourbons, probably because they were not in my price range. Apparently I.W. Harper was something of a Louisville, KY icon back in the day, but focuses on overseas markets instead of the US. Diageo is bringing the brand back with a four-year and 15-year and I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m itching to see if there is anything there. IMO Diageo’s Orphan Barrel Series just hasn’t lived up to the billing. It will be interesting to see if I.W. Harper is all that and a bag of chips or just another hypefest. At $30 for the four-year I’m certainly willing to give it a whirl. The 15-year is reported to be $75 so I might have to find that one at a bar and have a taste before committing.

Harper

Bell’s Withdraws March 9 Motion To Extend

I may be the only one who noticed the March 9 filing by Bell’s which sought to extend discovery time past March 20 was withdrawn on March 20. I’m no trademark lawyer, but I don’t quite get it. You send a long and lengthy document asking for another 30 days of discovery only to send a note on the day in question and say, forget about it. What gives? I mean if Bell’s wants to see this out to the bitter end, and it appears they do, why discard a motion which no one knew about other than those who have been to the USPTO website. I mean is this all some game to drive up the lawyer fees, if so they are doing a darn good job of it. So now as I understand it there will eventually be a hearing to determine if Inspired Brewing = Innovation Brewing. I know how I feel about the matter, the two are only similar to someone without a dictionary.

I Worry About People, Especially MDAFGSIA

I happened upon a story on Facebook about a person who ran around a neighborhood breaking windows with rocks and knocking on doors before going to a park and shooting three kids with an airsoft gun. The Facebook post was by Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America and if you scroll through the posts you begin to worry about people. I see some posts indicating the only reason the person with the airsoft was not killed was because he was not black. What I find interesting is several posts indicate the assaults were carried out by someone with dark skin, some even indicate he was black. Others blame the NRA for the incident. I’m still scratching my head over what the NRA has to do with a crazy dark-skinned man throwing rocks and shooting people with an airsoft gun? Someone else posted “Satisfied, gun lovers?” Satisfied with what exactly? That the police apprehended a person who was causing property damage in a neighborhood and assaulting people on a playground? Yep, you betcha!

What Moms tried to do was take this incident and equate it somehow to open carry. I’m not seeing the connection. I think they are trying to say if you open carry you are going to shoot up a playground and that is ludicrous. Just reading through the responses on the thread makes you begin to wonder about the sanity and intelligence of those who frequent their page. I know I feel like I may have lost a few brain cells just reading the responses. Instead of demanding action for gun sense, many of those responding on Facebook should try to find some common sense.

Bulleit Bourbon 10 Year

I’ve been trying hard to love Bulleit 10 Year since I picked up the box at the local ABC store. The real issue is fusel alcohol which is powerful and annoying. I found over ice it toned down the fumes, but it still doesn’t make for a rewarding glass of Boubon. Considering the Bourbon is 10 years old it was certainly made by Four Roses, although it is now being questioned as to whether or not Bulleit has a continued relationship with Four Roses and the response from Diageo has been cagey at best. The real rub is the 10 year is a Grant note and that is a pretty steep price to pay for fusel alcohol and ok flavor. I like the standard Bulleit Bourbon and Bulleit Rye (MGP) which both come in around $30, but just have a difficult time shelling out another $20+ for a bottle of just ok. I suggest you try it before you buy it if you are contemplating a purchase. There are much better Bourbons which can be had for less.

Two Can Play At This Game – H.R.1365 – Ammunition and Firearms Protection Act

When I posted the NRA’s response to the proposed ATF ban, I also mentioned a Congressman had proposed legislation to eliminate the round. On the heels of that comes H.R.1365 which if passed makes it impossible to ban Green Tips. I doubt either of the bills will make it through, but it certainly may be interesting to watch this play out.

Personally, I see this all as a waste of time and effort. The round in question has not been associated with any handgun crime and I’m not actually sure why it matters in the first place if it was associated with a handgun. I think the comment someone made earlier regarding the Sig brace and pistols and not classifying as a SBR was on point and what we are witnessing is a tit for tat situation.

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Asheville Brewing Company Draft Punk

I spotted ABC Draft Punk in a bottle shop and the label had almost no information on the beer so of course I had to bring it home. Turns out after a little web research it is an 8.1% ABV, 90 IBU double IPA made with Columbus, Cascade, Centennial, Simcoe and Amarillo hops. The beer was released on January 16 and pays homage to Daft Punk. I gotta admit this turned out to be one tasty beverage. The hop character was very nice and the alcohol was restrained. I really like the malt profile and backbone. If you happen upon this beer, be sure to grab a bottle or a pint.draftpunk

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough…Resign?

I’ve been scratching my head lately over the news B. Todd Jones, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Director, is resigning as of March 31. I’ve posted several times on the proposed Green Tip Ban which has now been temporarily shelved. Word on the street is the resignation is coming as a result of the failed ban. I just don’t understand that philosophy. If I cannot get something done one way, I work to change it in another. In this case I don’t believe the Green Tips should have been in the cross-hairs of the ATF, but had I been director and had to back pedal I would have not left my job. I don’t see that as a crushing defeat, rather a dose of reality.

Perhaps some thought Mr. Jones was not doing a good job and asked him to step aside, but I am not aware of a highly critical group of gun owners calling for him to resign. Sure we’d like to see easier processes for things like SBRs and suppressors, but that has long been a labored process, it isn’t something recent which can be attributed to Jones. I’m neither happy nor sad to see him go, but I am disappointed if it is true he stepped down simply because a Green Tip ban was a bad idea.

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