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Review by SAP on 11/20/08  
 
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
80 3 10 15 5 7 2008
Bottle No. 01148 of 11960, batch number 2008-1; Sampled November 2008
This is very well carbonated, as an exceedingly careful pour has me staring at four-fingers of foam that slowly grows to six fingers of foam and starts to pour over the sides of my large Tripel Karmeliet tulip glass. I only lose a touch of beer to the billowing, off-white / cream colored head. The beer is a clear, orange gold color that shows an almost brilliantly clear, bright, yellow-gold color when held up to the light. The aroma has an awesome grassy hop / malt note to it, ample touches of lemon zest, some tropical fruit and lychee notes, lots of cracker like grain notes and an underlying, musky Brettanomyces signature that cant quite hide despite the expressive malt and hop character. After 5 minutes or so I still have five-fingers of head on top of my beer, so I guess I'll continue to enjoy the aroma. Other noticeable notes of tangerine, a phenolic, almost plastic like, musty, butyric acid funkiness, phenolic soaked cotton-balls as well as a wild, weed-like / grassy note that is quite nice.

Lightly sweet tasting and this has a certain fullness to the body that lets me know that the Brettanomyces has a lot of residual sugars to work with (this thing will likely go bottle bomb at some point). This is not sweet though, just not dry. What sweetness is here accentuates hop flavors of tangerine, lychee, bergamot as well as some light herbal notes and a definite floral influence. Interestingly the foam tastes heavily of a phenolic Brettanomyces character, but the Brett does not play nearly as significant a role in the flavor of the beer. The Brett does play a role here in the flavor though as it contributes a spicy, phenolic character that provides some balancing sharpness to the finish. This last, mixes with a bitterness from the hops that also sharpens the finish which provides a balance to the sweet malt and fruity hop notes found up front.

This is pretty tasty, I do wish that it finished a bit drier (especially since as this ages it will get more and more carbonated, it is already over carbonated, and could become a bottle bomb, though with a champagne bottle this is not too likely). Visually perfect for a Saison, the ample carbonation projects a magnificent head, with lots of lacing and lots of staying power. Despite being a bit thicker and a bit sweeter than I generally prefer in a Saison, both these components work quite well in this beer; the extra touch of hop character (especially the American bent) certainly helps with this. It will certainly be interesting to see how this develops as the hops fade and the Brett becomes more prominent, especially if it can keep from becoming explosive. Taken as a sum of its components (at least as far as aroma and flavor go), this beer is not nearly as good as it is in the complete whole; e.g. it is lacking in funky aromatic notes, isn't nearly dry enough, nor is the texture perfect. On the whole though this beer just works quite well and is very enjoyable. I am glad I have a couple bottles of this to age.

Served In: Tulip