Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Whale A Week: Side Project Saison du Fermier

Side Project Brewing's Saison du Fermier

This week we take a step into territory we haven't really covered in this series of beer reviews--Saison!  First a little history of Side Project Brewing.  Brewer/owner Cory King is the head brewer at the amazing Perennial Brewing in St. Louis--not only one of the best breweries in the city, but in the state and even the country.  As a side project he started investing time and money into his own small brewing project focusing entirely on barrel aged and funky beers in small quantities.  He brews these beers at Perennial on his days off and both businesses are entirely separate.  I got to meet with and interview Cory and the Perennial staff almost two years ago and they are a fine bunch of passionate people!  We were there on the day that Cory released this Side Project Saison fermented in Chardonnay barrels with wild yeast that he gathered/ranched from his family farm.  Not knowing what to expect I tried a sample and loved it.  I promptly bought my three bottle limit and dragged them back to Minnesota with me.  Cory told me that he expected them to get better by at least 6 months of age.  Here we are at over a year and I'm excited to taste what lurks in this large bottle... The beer has a 97 rating on Beer Advocate and 99 on RateBeer.

Our cast of characters for this tasting includes: Eric Wentling (me!)--BJCP judge, sour lover, Belgian beer fan, Cory King fan-boy.  Andrew Gieseke--amazing homebrewer specializing in sour and brett beers, brewer of the best grape lambic I've had other than Cantillion.  Janelle Gieseke--Andrew's tolerant wife, beer lover.  Sarajo--my wife who refuses to write out her impressions on my whale tastings to spite me, oh, and sour beer lover...  We had this beer as an appertif after Andrew and Janelle fixed us the best brunch I've ever had.  A fine way to finish an epic coursed meal!

Eric: Mild funk and pineapple.  Earthy, musty, but in a good way.  Complex.  Not sweet smelling but I get some malt.  No hop aroma.  Light tart orange peel.  Elderflowers.  Brighter aroma's as it warms, more mango tropical fruit.
Andrew: Hay, lemon, old wood/oak tannin.  Some dandelion stem and flower petals.  Touch of leather and little fresh cut grass.  Some hops.  Touch of pilsner malt, cracker/biscuit.  Some cellar must.
Janelle: Floral--daisies.

Eric: Bright golden color some haze present.  A huge and persistent head the brilliant white color of a unicorn's hide.  Bubbles super fine and meringue-like.
Andrew: Rocky head.  Hazy and cloudy straw color.  Lots of fizzy carbonation.
Janelle: The color of persimmons (deep yellow.) Cloudy.  Light frothy head.

Eric: Tart and incredibly refreshing right off the bat.  Orange peel mixed with partially unripe pineapple.  Malt present (pilsner?) but not a sweet beer at all.  Body light to medium with high zippy champagne carbonation.  There is some hop bitterness but not much flavor.  No alcohol.  Complex, bright, with a tart acidity.
Andrew: Honey, lemon-lime with floral cuts and dandelion.  A little cracker/biscuit.  Some hop bitterness and a sharp carbonation bite intensified by acidity.  Tons of lemon (lemonhead candy) and pineapple/mango.
Janelle: Light, citrus.  Medium carbonation.  Fresh.  Does not stick to mouth, good palate cleanser.  Slight tartness (brett).  Mainly front of tongue flavor points.

Eric: Wonderfully complex.  More sour and tart than typical saisons, but near perfect in my estimation.  Refreshing and crisp.  Much funkier than when I had this fresh at the release.  This has a lambic bent to it.  This is by far the best saison I've ever had the pleasure to drink. 5
Andrew: Super dry, lemon bomb with hints of malt and touch of hop bitterness.  Refreshing crisp thirst-quencher.  Lovely balance of bitterness, floral aromas, and citrus acidity.  Lovely beer. 5
Janelle: Reminds me of spring, refreshing and light. 5
Sarajo: It should be hotter and we should be outside.  We want the funk! 4.75

Overall rating: 4.94

Seriously Cory King is a freaking wizard.  That is all.

Photo info: For those who notice my photo stuff.  This week I took a close up of the bottle label.  Then I superimposed the shadow of a light bulb taken at Iron Tap in Waconia.  I had to do a little tweaking in Photoshop Elements to get the transparency right so the bulb would pop a bit and mirror the bulb on the actual label.

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