Style: American Farmhouse Ale
Malt: Valley Malt Pale & Crystal
Hops: Chinook, Centennial, Ahtanum
Yeast: Belgian Saison
And so we come to another beer from Notch. I have to be honest here, I love this brewery. I wasn’t a fan of their pilsner, but I have a strong feeling I just don’t like that style of pilsner, because their saison was one of my favorite of all time, and the Polotmavý was superb. That being said, I am stoked to try Valley Malt BSA, which seems to be incorrectly labeled as “Valley Malt Harvest” over on Beer Advocate. I believe the mislabeling is because they changed the name for this year’s release, but it is possible that these are two different beers and everyone is getting confused on Beer Advocate. Whether this is true or not, I have added in my first beer to Beer Advocate, and hopefully it will be accepted and will get rid of any confusion there might be. Valley Malt, for those wondering, is the local maltster here in New England, and we are so thankful for them. Every brewery that is trying to be a localvore comes through them, and plenty others just go to them for great malt. Valley Malt is the first attempt that I know of to bring a Malt House back to the north east, and I am very happy that they exist.
On to the bottle now… This bottle, like all Notch bottles, is supremely crafted text-based art. The color is a little bland on this one, and the title of the beer is a little long, but other than that, everything is line up perfectly, is clearly visible, and is pleasing to the eye. This bottle is a must for the shelf of anyone that loves text-based graphic art.
The beer pours a murky browned yellow like dying straw. The head is a finger width, fluffy white, and lasts forever, leaving thick sticky sheets of lacing on the edges of my glass. There are lots of carbonation bubbles racing up to replenish the head, though the beers body is murky enough that I cannot see through it at all, and would definitely classify it as opaque. On the nose, this beer smells fantastically saisony. Great spicy wafts of earth, biscuity malt, and saison yeast-funk caress the nose. Citrus hops and citrus esters are there in great helpings, with light piney notes also shining through. Slight hay comes through from the malt and esters, while banana esters are surprisingly there in amounts that make me think of a hefeweizen, especially as the beer warms. This smell is really alive with a great complexity, reminding me of lemon banana biscuits, spiced and buttered. On the taste, the beer is light but flavorful, slightly sweeter than the smell might suggest, though still quite pleasing. The taste begins with light hay moving into earthy hops, then opening into big citrus and biscuity buttered malts with hints of creamy banana. The malts, however, are eaten away rather quickly by the bitters from the hay-like and pilsner-feeling hops, which play with each other well into the after taste. Sweet citrus lingers in the mouth as light spicing. The more I drink of this the more I think of strongly citrus-zested bread with hints of banana, while the beer as a whole remains light and lovely on the stomach (just as any Notch beer must). Mouthfeel is smooth and velvety till it begins to slide down the throat and slight carbonation prickles tickle you. The beer is crisp and smooth, though a little thin, leaving the mouth wet on the sides and kind of hop dry on the top of the tongue. Overall, this is another great beer by Notch. In my mind, Notch does saisons right, with perfect amounts of biscuit, funk, and citrus. I could chug this beer all night, or sip it forever, and I would love to get a sixer of it. My one complaint is that the mouthfeel is oh-so-slightly off, but really this is a great beer, and definitely stands up to Notch’s regular saison. Try this beer. Drink this beer. Drink even more of it. Notch has done it again. All hail the king of sessionable beers.