Style: Farmhouse Ale Fermented in French Sauternes Barrels
OG: 14.5 Plato
From: Chelsea, MA
Brewer’s Note: “Sauterneal is a farmhouse ale, brewed with a complex grist profile to give a full diversity of starches and sugars for our house yeast to ferment. The fermentation and aging took place in Sauternes barrels that were imported from the famous French wine region. The finished beer balances a smooth malt awareness with the heavy estery funk that our Renaud yeast can really bring sometimes. Due to further aging in the wood and letting the wood warm up a little and then cool back down, the barrels got a good chance to breathe and impart its character into the beer. The slight oakiness is a inviting addition into the final product. We hope you enjoy this elixir as much as we did creating it.”
The beer pours a rich, deep golden color with copper nuances, forming a nice fluffy head of slightly-off-white bubbles above the glass. In body, the beer is murky and opaque, with a nice gradient of color moving through the beer. A steady stream of bubbles hint at a well carbonated beer. On the nose, the beer is rich and decadent. Even before I approach the glass I can smell the sweet and nuanced funk of this saison. Rich barnyard funk blends on the nose with subtle spice, decadent wine-soaked oak, grass, hay, and even a touch of salty earth. Soft lemon citrus rounds out the scent and gives the beer a refreshing pop on the nostrils. On the tongue, the beer tastes a little muted in terms of what the nose was presenting, but still quite funky and delicious. A tart, citric acidity moves throughout the sip, while rich oak tannin and hops blend for a bitterness on the middle and back of the sip. Spicy esters definitely add a touch to the balance while and earthiness adds a nice minerality. Just a touch of funky and fruity sweetness can be sensed in the middle and back of the sip. The beer is dry and complex, and in flavor it begins with an earthy taste and excellent minerality that hints at stones washed in spring water… This moves towards more traditional farmhouse funk flavors with just a touch of pineapple alongside hay. Rich oak moves in towards the end of the sip and adds nice meatiness to drink. The finish is a quick splash of fruity lemon and pineapple that blends with the minerality of the beer for a great splash of character. The aftertaste muddles the minerality into a sort-of-salty taste with hints of citrus juice and just the faintest kiss of wheat. In the mouth, the beer feels medium bodied with definite tannic structure from the wood-aging, and a slight grip to the cheeks as one sips the beer. Mouth feel is crisp yet smooth, and the carbonation is silky and light on the tongue. After the beer leaves, the mouth is left slightly sticky and dry, with soft saliva at the extremes of the cheeks while the rest of the mouth is begging for another sip to wet itself again. Overall, the beer’s nose is rich and decadent, which I find quite pleasing. The barrel aging definitely added nice nuances to the nose, as well as the flavor. As is, I think the flavors are a touch askew of where the nose is, though as the beer warms they move in more and more towards the nose. I like this beer. It has very rich barrel characters, and I know from talking with the Mystic gents that the barrel (which was very expensive) was not giving off flavor for the longest time. I almost feel like the beer would age well, even though it is so dry. With a couple months on this I feel that the fruity esters would build a little further and this beer would be supreme. As is, however, it is quite excellent, and deceptively full of alcohol. Even after one glass I can feel it. The barrel character is rich and complex, and adds many little nuances to the beer that I could spend all night picking out. A beer to try for barrel aged fans! Now I just need to find a bottle of Sauternes wine so I can know what characters the beer picked up from the wine… Anyone have and $100+ bottle they’d like to donate?