August 3, 2014

Melting Point Imperial Saison Tasting Notes

When I went to Portland in April, shortly after bottling this saison, I had a suspicion that I should stick the bottles in my fermentation chamber while they carbonated in case something bad happened. It was a fortunate decision because one of the 22oz bottles blew up and the shrapnel seemed to have caused a couple other bottles to explode. I came home to a really nasty mess in the chamber. Fortunately most of the batch survived and I am both saddened with the loss of several bottles but pleased with the outcome of the survivors.

Appearance: Slightly hazy with a yellow color just slightly more coppery than goldenrod. Snow white, fluffy head lingers over the beer. Typical saison appearance.

Aroma: Gentle but present hop aroma with floral, citrus, spice, grass and a hint of pine. Clearly a noble hop-dominated profile rather than the more aggressive versions of these hop aromas produced by American hops. Surprisingly the cascade hops integrated very nicely and do not overwhelm the European hops. There is just a hint of something out of place in the mix of floral and citrus fruit. Hop aroma battles with the aroma from yeast compounds, bringing in lemon, pepper, clove, grapefruit, slight peach and pear notes. Combined the aroma is bold for a saison.

Flavor: Complex flavor profile with waves of flavor combinations. The hops strike first with a flavor profile very similar to the aroma with a mix of grainy pilsner flavor and a hint of honey. Then the yeast come through with the citrus fruit salad mix of fruit and a dose of pepper with some of the sweeter malt flavors. Then the hop bitterness becomes more noticeable and rounds out the experience with another dose of grainy pilsner, tart citrus fruit and herbal spice. There's a lot going on here and it's difficult to try to capture the entire experience in a single pass. As the beer warms some of the biscuit comes out and the fruit flavors from the esters become more distinct and easier to identify.

Mouthfeel: Definitely heavier on the tongue than my usual saisons but it is neither cloying nor what you would generally consider a heavy beer. It feels like a beer a little under its 1.010 FG but definitely not mistaken for a saison at 1.002. Carbonation is spritzy but not excessive. The finish is slightly astringent, as intended, which helps reset the palate for the big dose of flavor.

Overall: Pretty happy with this beer. I am still mixed on my thoughts about the Celeia hops and maybe that is something I would consider changing out in this beer. I am not a big fan of floral hops but I think they work well in blends. Maybe its the combination of lime and floral that I find weird and slightly out of place in the aroma. Aurora brings some of the same character but with more herbal spice than floral with the lime. I like them better so maybe that will be a change for the future. Otherwise the beer is exactly as I had hoped. It's hoppier than the Dupont Avec les Bon Voeux that inspired this beer but it's more appealing as a summer beer that way. A less hop-forward version would probably be a nice variation for winter months.

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