Saturday, September 3, 2011

Crabtree Brett Orange Blossom Saison review

Crabtree Brett Orange Blossom SaisonBrettanomyces can be a wonderful ingredient in beer when put into the proper hands. In many cases it can spell disaster if unintentionally introduced. However, when added under the right circumstances, it can transform a good beer into a wonderfully unique libation.

I had the great fortune to sample a full bottle of an experimental beer from Crabtree Brewing. Recently, Crabtree produced an Orange Blossom Cezanne Saison. But Jeff Crabtree didn't want to stop with there. He sent some to his lab and added some brettanomyces and some champagne yeast into a bottle conditioned, lesser alcohol version of this brew and stored it away for about 5 months. Tonight I popped open a bottle to try it out. (Note the temporary printed label).

I was originally warned that this beer might be a tad over primed and that the wire-caged cork might explode out when loosened. So I hung on tight and untwisted the wire and POP! Out came the cork like a bat outta hell. Good thing I was hanging on to it for dear life. This bottle then came alive.

Appearance: The "brett" Orange Blossom Saison poured a cloudy gold color and was very highly carbonated from the champagne yeast. My clean glass could not contain the bright white head that erupted out of the glass. The head was enormous and lingered for many minutes. (See the video below). Even very cold out of the fridge this brew had enough carbonation to convince you this was champagne. After a time I could fill the rest of the glass. A constant 1-2 finger head remained for the entire sampling.

Aroma: I knew right up front that this bottle was conditioned with sour brett. A sweet and sour funk dominated up front with hints of honey, biscuit, wheat grass and mild spice. To a sour beer lover, this was everything you'd hope for in the nose.

Taste: Instantly upon first sampling I was reminded of Crabtree's Digital Age Berliner Weisse with it's tart sour pucker. I could taste the sweet honey mixed with a slight-bitter sour tartness. The brew only bubbled slightly as it went down. This saison was creamy, smooth with a nice sour bite. The wheat in this beer blended well with the rye added for spice. It was the kind of sour beer that I knew I could enjoy from start to finish.

Some people will find that brett beers are hard to get used to, and they can be. But once initiated into the brett sensation, you may just find you'll look forward to that taste. I certainly did. This large 750ml bottle supposedly weighed in around 4.6% ABV, much less than it's regular saison original (8%+).

This is another Saison that I really enjoyed. Either I'm getting used to Saisons or else the ones I've had lately are just well above average. The sour version was something I savored from start to finish and would definitely ask for a glass again.

Overall: By the end of the bottle, most of the highly charged carbonation had dissipated and left a nice smooth drink, both cold and warmed up. Hats off to Crabtree Brewing for making something wonderful. I hope they bring this one to the 2011 GABF as I feel it would be a hit.

Pouring a Crabtree Brett Orange Blossom Saison:
If you can't view the video via RSS or Email, please visit the blog.

Related articles:
- Peak into the future with Crabtree Brewing.
- Crabtree beers getting a new look.
- Rockyard Buddha Nuvo review. (Saison)

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