Apprentice Series: Mabon (White Birch Brewing)

Style: Black Saison

6.7% ABV

Bottled On: September 2012

From: Hooksett, New Hampshire (I’m adding in the location of the brewery now)

Brewer’s Note: “Mabon, the Wiccan name for the autumnal equinox is a time when day and night are equal, and the harvest is winding down. It’s a time of reflection and balance. For his release, Andy brewed a Black Saison that is as dark in color as it is light in body.”

Mabon 1

Reviewer’s Note:  This bottle is pretty much a half a year old and was found sitting on a shelf.  I have no idea how this style will hold up with a little age on it, so this review may not be true to the fresh nature of the beer.  Try it yourself if you find it and let me know.  I have tried this before at Belgian Beerfest back in September and remember thoroughly enjoying it, although that was towards the end of the fest and I was rather drunk by then… Take my review (as you should all reviews since taste is subjective) with a grain of salt.

The White Birch Label is fairly streamlined and uniform, no matter the beer, which (as I mentioned in my Jack’s Abby reviews) is not always my favorite thing.  I’m going to use the same review for all of them.  If you read one of my White Birch reviews all ready then don’t bother reading my label review and just skip down to the beer review…  I like how the background of the label looks like light birch bark, and I like the White Birch logo as well, but the rest of the beer is really cluttered with simple font text, and the change of color in text to highlight what the beer is just doesn’t seem to mesh nicely visually, which is too bad.  I do give the brewery major credit for clearly posting right on the front of the beer when the beer was bottled on in big clear letters.  Every brewery should do this.  Cheers to White Birch for doing it.  That being said, I’m really not in love with the White Birch label.  It just feels too cluttered and dull.  I would say it’s probably not worth scrapbooking, nor shelving, though the bottle’s clear “bottled on” date makes the beers themselves ideal for cellaring (when the beer style is appropriate for cellaring…).

Mabon 2

The beer pours a dark brown black, with a beautiful thick coffee tan head with velvety small bubbles.  The beer’s body is dark black and impenetrably opaque, helping to give this black saison a very stout-like look.  The beer’s lacing is thicker in body forming curtains along the glass.  On the nose the beer is lightly of roast and chocolate with a nice, almost sour funk hiding beneath the smell and providing light notes of peppercorn.  On the tongue the beer tastes wonderfully stout-like, with roast and light char alongside slight chocolate sweet flavors with lactic sour flavors hiding beneath.  The beer begins with light roast and almost lactic sugar creaminess, before opening into bigger roast that touches upon char and very slight sour apple before the roast hits char and washes it away.  More fruit character appears as the beer warms, but the stout properties are still forefront in the taste.  The finish lingers with roast and very light acidic sour.  On the mouth the beer feels medium heavy and creamy smooth on the tongue, though a little watery in the finish.  The mouth is left dry from the roast, but wet on the sides from the acid.  Overall, I am a fan of this beer, but am a little confused with the style.  It is far more a sour stout than a saison, as it does have that slight acidic sour to give it a strange flavor profile.  I like this beer, but I think black saison is not the best definition for it.  It is interesting, complex, and tasty.  Try this beer.

Mabon 3


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