Style: American Saison/Farmhouse Ale aged in Oak Barrels
From: Newcastle, ME
Brewery’s Note: “Etoile du Maine was brewed with our friend and fellow farmhouse brewer, Daniel Thiriez of Brasserie Thiriez. This rustic blonde saison has been aged in oak and gently dry-hopped in the barrel prior to bottle-conditioning.”
The beer pours from the bottle, and then sits in my glass the color of blond gold. Lime green highlights lurk within the middle of the beer, yet in body the beer is quite clean and clear, if a bit hazy. The beer pours with a quick spritzy head of sudsy white bubbles that do vacate rather quickly. On the nose, the beer smells of smooth American oak, chardonnay must, and then pineapple brett, cider, drying grass, and slight lemon-lime. It’s a complex, yet fresh and crisp smell, especially for a barrel aged farmhouse ale. The oak is superbly built into the nose at just the right level, giving amazing complexity but not weighing down the beer’s fresh, bright character. As the beer warms, the pineapple brett character does start to turn more towards funky horse blanket on the nose, which is totally fine with me. On the tongue, the beer tastes funky and complex, beginning tart with citric acidity that leads into funky sweetness and further acidity, but then is dried out by ample oak tannin and hoppy bitters. The finish is a citric burst of refreshment. In flavor, the beer begins as tart lime and pineapple juice, which gains a touch of tangerine juice, then slight horse blanket brett with lots of mellow oak tannins giving herbal, tea-like characters. The finish is a beautiful burst of lemon-lime juice with just a hint of smoky oak that does not weigh down the sip at all, but further adds to the complexity. As the beer warms, funky horse blanket starts to stretch into the finish and aftertaste of the beer. In the mouth, the beer feels on the light side of medium in body, with a crisp fully attenuated feel. Carbonation is mild, but the acidity and attenuation keep this beer light and extremely drinkable, especially for the oak presence in this beer. Overall, this beer features some of the best oak presence I have ever found in a light, drinkable beer. The balance is incredible, as I am getting lots of the gritty tannin without their normal weight, and I am getting great farmhouse funk and great fresh citrus. This beer hits my funky farmhouse notes nicely, and leaves me satisfied. I’ve got another bottle aging, but honestly, I am wondering if that is a good choice or not… I guess only time shall tell if the bottle lasts.
On a side note. When you type “etoile du maine” into Google, THIS is one of the first page options…