Nordic Saison (Hill Farmstead Brewing Company, Cambridge Brewing Company, Kissmeyer Beer & Brewing)

Style: American Saison brewed w/ honey, heather, rose hips, rhubarb and wheat.

6.0% ABV (?)

From: Greensborough, VT

Brewery’s Note: “This farmhouse ale was brewed at Hill Farmstead with our friend and mentor Anders Kissmeyer (Kissmeyer Beer & Brewing) and our longtime friend Will Meyers (Cambridge Brewing Co.). Inspired by our guests and their journeys, this beer was brewed with the resourcefulness and inventiveness of the Nordic tradition, as well as the creative spirit of its three architects. / Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro, Vt., founded in 2010, is an award-winning brewery that draws on travel, friendship and a sense of place to craft its expressions of classic and new styles. Kissmeyer Beer and Brewing, launched in 2010 by Anders Kissmeyer after ten years at Nørrebro Bryghus, is a Denmark-based, award-winning, multifaceted brewing concern spearheading the Nordic beer movement. Cambridge Brewing Co., established in 1989 and the oldest brewpub in the greater Boston area, is an award-winning brewery known for its adventurous, creative and groundbreaking beers.”

The beer pours a bright, lemony yellow, with a tight knit head of eggshell white bubbles that fade away at a quick pace to leave a fatter scrim. When you splash that scrim against the sides of the glass, it leaves a tight knit wall of tiny, pearly bubbles of lacing in its wake. The beer’s body is hazy, opaque, and cloudy, yet its color seems bright and radiant, somewhere between aged hay and lemon peel. On the nose the beer smells of bright citrus and earthy must. There’s a little lemon, and rhubarb, perhaps a touch of strawberry, some lemongrass spice, a faint touch of floral salinity, slight rooty/vegetal nuance from the rhubarb, the first sweet turnings of honey, and a smooth grainy base below the other scents. It smells lightly tart, yet rich and nuanced. The scent reminds me of spring, as stupid as that is to say, yet it is bright and citrusy with just the right earthy sweet base beneath it to make me think of shaking off the shackles of winter. On the tongue, the beer tastes of gentle tartness that nips more at the tongue than the gums. This slides into a citrus-sweet fruitiness, tampered by a light lactic chalkiness and a soft herbal bitterness that merely mellows the other flavors. An earthy minerality layers the acidity of the finish, painting faint traces of salinity and metallic tang. The flavor is bright with earthy citrus, not really in the lemon or lime category, but more akin to an unripe orange… perhaps? The grain is only present in nuances below a rich juiciness that is at once tropical, yet citric, and not quite quantifiable (by my palate) beyond that. The minerally finish washes soft herbs over mossy granite with clear cool mineral water, mint, and a little chalk crushed into it. On the very finish/aftertaste there is a smooth, grainy bread touch that seems wheaty, yet might hint at the rhubarb within the beer. In the mouth, the beer feels medium bodied, with a higher than average carbonation that remains light and bright on the palate, scrubbing and cleansing the sip. There is a slight weight and gristle to the body that might be coming from the rhubarb and honey within, but which gives the beer a nice extra oomf to pair with foods. When it leaves, the mouth is left wet in its lower regions with slight tautness, yet a minty cleanliness shining throughout the mouth. Overall, this is a lovely little tart farmstead ale. It’s citrus forward, but not in a lemon or lime sense (as are so many citrus beers). This one is earthier, perhaps not even citrusy, but that is what it reminds me of. It sips simply, yet full of complexity, and would pair wonderfully with lighter table fair. As is no surprise, these three amazing breweries/brewers came together to make an amazingly delicious beer. Try it when you can. It’s great.

 

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