Friday, January 11, 2013

January 11: Karl and the Tale of the Saison du Buff

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Beer

I return from my trip to Scarborough Fair this week with an interesting collaboration beer from three highly respected breweries. Much like our blog, we have an east coast/west coast collabo here with Dogfish Head and Victory ignoring the rules of the turf war to brew with the hop lords from Stone. I generally like the ales Dogfish Head and Victory produce, but I have strong, often negative opinions when it comes to Stone. I find most of their beers to be palate wreckers, with the hop devil just massacring my taste buds. If I had to equate Stone to an athlete, Stone would be Oscar Robertson: A pioneer player who changed the game and put up record numbers, cementing himself as one of the greatest ever, but all the while managing to rub some people the wrong way. While Stone is a better teammate to the craft brewing industry than Oscar ever was to most of his cohort, I’m one of the people that Stone’s beers just leaves too much of a bitter taste in my mouth (literally). Sacrilege, I know. Ranting and obscure sports comparisons aside, I do usually try any new Stone beer I see as once in a while, like Oscar, you just have to appreciate the craft.

Oscar Robertson once averaged a triple double for a season. Stone usually averages triple the amount of hops necessary per beer. 
While I did not think too much of the Stone/Elysian/Bruery collaboration, I did enjoy the Stone/Bear Republic/Fat Head Texas Brown Ale. My expectations are set a little higher for this particular bottle because of my aforementioned affinity for the other breweries attending here in the buff. Saison du Buff weighs in at what seems to be the lucky number for saison ABV, 7.7%, and the bottle states that the Buff is brewed with Paul Simon’s four favorite herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. The contents pour out a straw-yellow color, and a solid three-finger head builds up, then cools its jets fairly quickly, finding the confidence in itself to remain happy at a solid finger for the remainder of its short life. The aforementioned herbs dominate the nose, with the rosemary acting as the Simon and the thyme as the Garfunkel. Some sweet honey joins as part of the backing band, and everything combines to smell like a freshly-cut Christmas tree. It’s actually quite pleasant, but reminds me that I need to take down my Christmas decorations. The rosemary is again the dominant singer/songwriter when it comes to the taste, with the Sage singing counter-tenor. It wouldn’t be a Stone beer if the hops weren’t prominent, and there is a good, light funk in the rhythm section to let you know this is a saison. The Buff is crisp, yet chewy, but not overly thick. While it starts out as an interesting and tasty beverage, the herbs and the hops become a little too much as you reach about the halfway point of your glass. Unlike Paul and Art, these flavors never part ways with each other or your tongue, and it is their lingering presence on the taste buds that drags this beer down.

                                                                 Paul and Art in Central Park, singing about the Saison du Buff

This is an interesting saison, and the nose in particular is worthy of your attention. If you enjoy saisons or just are looking for something a little different, I recommend giving this a chance. You may enjoy it, but I don’t think we are going to become “Old Friends”.

Rating: B-  

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