As we begin Year 3, we figured we’d play it a little safe. It is not often you get a GABF winner in front of you the day after you finish up your year end review, but that was the exact situation I found myself in recently at a birthday party for a friend. See, I’ve had this beer on several occasions, but never in a sit-down tasting situations. A brief moment typing notes on my phone and some familiar eye rolls from my compatriots, I was able to truly enjoy this great saison from Harrisonburg. And as we have started each year with a saison, the appropriate trend continues.
Salad Days American Saison, Pale Fire Brewing Co. (Harrisonburg, Va)
Saison, ABV: 7%, IBU: 40
Presentation: Tap Pour into pint glass.
Appearance: Golden rod to deep yellow, slightly hazy, slight whitish head, but non-existent quickly.
Aroma: Brighter citrus with a very solid earthy/grassy/mineral component. Slight bread undertones.
Taste: See, there are two sides to every
Schwartz saison. This one is squarely in the brighter area than the musty one. Crisp, with some citrus notes, but it is that really green produce taste that really stands out. You get the ‘salad’ component right up front, which make this one more unique that most you see these days.
ABV/IBU Mouthfeel: Medium light body, very clean and thinner as far as saisons traditionally go. With that being said, the ABV stands out a little more than others, even though a 7% beer is right in the wheelhouse for this style. Hops are not as noticeable, as the ‘green’ in this beer tends to eat that up and there is very little residual bitterness in this beer.
Overall: There is a lot to like about this beer. While a very large chunk of saisons fall into the musty, Belgian category, this one is a lot brighter and cleaner. A non-discerning beer drinker could easily but this almost into a lager category, but most craft beer drinker would pick up on the signatures of a farmhouse ale. The unique greenness to this beer is definitely a departure from the traditional styling of saisons, but saisons are meant to be ‘whatever is leftover from harvest’ beers, so there is no defined set of standards when it comes to overall profile. This is why I really like this style, because it is open to interpretation, for the most part. This is a fun beer and I’m glad to see it permeating the entire Commonwealth. You can find it in six-packs and on tap and goes great with lighter spring fare or with a huge leafy…well, you get the picture.