Style: Barrel Fermented Saison
OG: 14.5 Plato
From: Chelsea, MA
Brewer’s Note: “Our Barrel Program beers are entirely fermented and aged in wood barrels. For millenia wood was an essential part of the brewing process – long before the advent of stainless steel. This beer was fermented in barrels formerly used for chardonnay wines. As such, it expresses and essence of its former contents along with the classic vanilla of French oak.”
The beer’s label is nice and crisp, but lacks some of the amazing character that the Mystic labels had when they were screen printed onto the bottles. This label feels more reserved and less funky, and actually loses a touch of class in the process. The color choice for this label is also a little odd, coming in somewhere between mustard yellow and puke green… Still, the Mystic symbol is beautiful and interesting, and the fonts are crisp and beautiful. I don’t hate this label, but I liked the old ones a little more… This label does handle clutter very nicely and gives a great amount of information on the bottle without overloading. The label is worthy of scrapbooking but is not up to par for the shelf.
The beer pours a murky orange with a nice fat head of large, off-white bubbles. The head sizzles down to a quarter finger’s width, leaving a sticky lacing of thin bubbles on the sides of the glass. In body, this beer is murky and opaque, with light sediment building at the bottom of the glass. On the nose, this beer is richly phenolic with clove, banana, and peppers spicing the nose. The pepper is really fresh and fleshy. Light hay and grass do touch the nose, but I don’t really get a lot of chardonnay on the nose. This changes on the tongue, however, where the beer unfurls with fruity sweet esters from the chardonnay and the yeast, and very soft tannic bitterness from the barrel. Soft grassy bitters also come from the hops, while the yeast provides a pop of citric and malic acidity. The beer’s body is perfectly set for a saison, as is the way with most Mystic saisons. The beer sits in the mouth with a medium body that allows the mouth to feel full, while not being weighed down. Carbonation is soft and fluffy with a perfect amount of prickle to keep the beer balanced. This beer has a smooth, almost oily mouthfeel that still manages a crisp ending.
In flavor, the beer boasts sweet chardonnay grapes with pineapple juice and soft lemon. Soft green apple can also be sensed. These flavors blend into the middle and are met with soft, bitter oak flavors and grassy hay to balance out the rich esters. The beer ends a little sweet with soft dough and sweet pineapple juice in a middling finish that lasts into the aftertaste. Overall, this is another damn good saison from Mystic. The chardonnay and the barrel are both a bit restrained in this beer, but I like them that way, as they add rich nuance without slowing down the tongue. I personally want a little more from the bitter tannins and hops, so as to balance out the rich esters and grape sweetness in this beer, but it is still pretty damn good. In my book, Saison Renaud and Mary of the Gael are a little ahead of this in terms of overall beer, but this is great and worth trying. Another success from the wizards of yeast.
4.09/5, A- in Style