Style: Saison brewed with honey
From: San Francisco, CA
Brewer’s Note: “Our Honey Saison is a beer for all seasons. Brewed with Bay Area honey from Marshall Farms, wheat, California two-row barley, French oak and fresh, local ginger root for a hint of spice. Balanced with earthy Mount Hood and Saaz hops, this is a refreshing brew enjoyed best with your favorite seasonal fare./ About the Farm: Marshall’s Farm is based out of American Canyon in Wine Country, but they maintain over seventy hives throughout the bay area. Spencer and Helene Marshall then blend from migratory bee hives placed in wildflower fields to make their Bay Area Blend. The result is a honey that represents a wide collection wildflowers of the bay area in one unique honey.”
The beer pours a cloudy, yellowed orange, like the place in a fire where the yellow core moves into the red fingers. The beer pours with a massive head of medium sized fizzy bubbles. The head mellows to about a finger’s width with a fluffy terrain running across the top of the glass. In body, the beer is completely opaque and cloudy, yet bright in color… I suspect that the honey and ginger found in the beer have a lot to do with the beer’s opacity.
On the nose, the beer smells of rich barnyard hay, grass, and smooth wildflower honey. Touches of wheat bread and definite funky spice blend over the nostril hairs quite well. I like the smell of this beer, as it is subtle, but delightfully saison-like. The honey especially adds a smoothness to the scent that really balances out the funk and makes it quite inviting. I feel like I’m smelling a fresh meadow beside a farm yard. There is even a hint of nettles in the nose.
On the tongue, the beer tastes wonderfully subtle and balanced, moving from sweet honey to slight citrus acidity to grassy and herbal bitter characters. There is even a touch of spice on the yeast, and I think the ginger is adding to the spicy twang. In flavor, the beer starts grassy and then opens to herbal spice, hay, nettles, and all the while smooth honey slowly works through the flavors so that it almost feels like you’ve sucked on just a drop of fresh honey by the time you finish your sip. I don’t out right taste any ginger in this beer, but I do taste funky yeast spice, touches of pepper, and definite herbal flavors that even stray slightly towards minty freshness. Maybe it’s just because it is a cold and windy day here in winterized New England, but this beer reminds me very much of a warm spring meadow with bees, and nettles, and fresh hay, perhaps even with new grown mint leaves. It is quite nice for my winter-cold body to sit in the freshness of this beer. The finish of the beer is rich with honey and wheat malt flavors, while the aftertaste blends in spicy yeast and fresh herbal mint. In the mouth, the beer feels medium bodied with a little-too-harsh carbonation that definitely gives the beer a fresh snap, but digs into the tongue with a touch too much prickle. Mouthfeel is crisp and snappy with a slight gelling feeling, probably from the honey. Overall, I like this beer. As I said before, it may just be that I am wishing for spring, but this beer embodies that nicely for my taste buds, and though it is a little too aggressive in carbonation, it makes up for that by being superbly balanced in flavor and nuance. This is a beer to try.