August 12, 2017

Just the Tip Mixed Fermentation Saison Tasting Notes

If this isn't the weirdest beer I've ever brewed then it's definitely on the short list. I brewed this beer right at the beginning of 2017 using fir tips clipped off the in-laws' Christmas tree. I used my mixed saison culture which I am still in the process of exploring. I've figured out it really benefits from age. Very young it showcases some berry and tropical fruit. Then it takes on a cluttered, too-many-expressive-yeast flavor with a weirdly sweet brett barnyard funk. With some time the beer dries out with a lot of berry and hay with some tropical fruit in the background. This is exactly what I love in brett'd beers. I mean, I like Orval's barnyard funk but when it hits that really dry character where you can feel tannins on the tongue, that's when I really enjoy it. So that's why this review comes eight months after the brew day. 

Appearance: Pilsner yellow with a snow white head. The beer is a little undercarbonated for the style so the head comes out thick but with large bubbles. Over time it mellows into a thinner but lasting layer of white foam. Fairly hazy which is likely why it appears so light in color.

Aroma: Overripe blueberries sitting in a barn recently full of goats. It's funky and fruity. An herbal but earthy and slightly cheesy aroma like an aged blue cheese. Damp forest. Minor notes of tangerine, cherry, dried wild flower, gravel. As the beer warms an herbal and licorice aroma emerges.

Flavor: Berries, hay, sweet cherry, ripe tangerine, oregano and subtle licorice. Aftertaste is long, lingering and complex. Lemon, blue cheese, pine, black tea, grapefruit pith. Fades into a lasting lemon, blueberry, black tea flavor. Hops are nowhere to be found. Grain struggles among the mixture of flavors. Sort of a bland malt in the background if you go looking for it. There is grain somewhere in there but it's covered up by a lot of disparate flavors. As the beer warms a little of the sweet brett funk emerges.

Mouthfeel: Moderate thickness but thicker than most saisons. Slightly slick but a lot of drying tannin feeling on the tongue. Prickly with slight acidity. Tongue is left feeling both dried out and slightly slick. Slight numbing sensation. Unusual. As it warms the numbing reduces dramatically along with the slickness.

Overall: In tree tip beers I've had in the past I've always tasted herbal and citrus notes. Here, that's mostly missing. Perhaps this is because the tips from the Christmas tree were extremely young or maybe my mixed saison culture is just weird like that. I think this beer is still a few months away from getting from like to love on the fermentation character. It's an unusual beer which I'm glad I tried brewing but one I'm not sure I would rebrew. There's something fun about the weird mixture of flavors but it's definitely not a beer I would race to drink all night.