Stone Saison

Stone: Saison (USA: Saison: 6% ABV)

Visual: Pale grain. Inch of mounded tight bubbled head. Low evident carbonation.

Nose: Big coriander. Lemon zest. Fresh wheat. Paprika. Crisp hops. Traditional lemonade.

Body: Traditional lemonade. Coriander. Carrot. Lime cordial. Light hop character. Juniper berries.

Finish: Traditional lemonade. Bitter hop prickle. Peppermint. Squeezed lime. Palma violets. Juniper. Greenery. Paprika. Ginger.

Conclusion: Ok…huh…ok. Well, to kick off the notes, for one my style and Stone Brewing expectations just got shot out of the water here. Style wise – Well I will admit I never associated traditional lemonade flavours with a saison before, but there you go. On Stone brewing Expectations? Well saison is often a quite crisp hopped style, and Stone have pretty much a speciality of hopping beers to hell and back. So, when this thing is doing much more work with the spices than the hops it kind of knocks me for six.

So – what the hell is this? Each stage has a definite pairing of elements that help define it. Up first is the coriander and lemon in the aroma – this is possibly the most coriander touched I have ever found in a beer’s nose and it is evident from when the bottle first pops open. Here it calls to the Belgian wit style, and while that is unusual, it is still the most standard part of the beer.

The body, well it has the pair of traditional lemonade and juniper berries which gives an almost gin impression to go with it. Here it is very refreshing, and leads into the final pairing in the finish – ginger and paprika. Here it is spicy and warm on the way out, creating quite the lasting impression. These are most distinct when the beer is chilled, as the beer warms up the lemonade element fades a bit and the spice starts to show more mid body, everything evening out between the three experiences.

I really don’t think I have had anything else quite like it – such a mix of fresh citrus, sweet lemonade, hop bitterness in a restrained manner, greenery and tingling spice.

It is so out there that I want to like it more than I actually do. There is a huge range of odd flavours, which, while fascinating, don’t seem to make it a beer I want to drink regularly. The ending seems too warm for the lighter fresher mid beer, and it has an almost pre hop beer style to the middle with the juniper berry taste. Technically it is awesome in what it achieves as an experiment, and a singular beer, but not quite for me.

Background: I heard about this from G-Lo’s excellent little beer poetry slam over at “It’s just the booze dancing” and it sounded like an interesting wee beer. I am a fan of Stone in general so when it turned up in Brewdog’s Guest Beer selection I decided to grab a bottle. This has quite a long tale on the back about they got their own farm and made their own lemon, lemon thyme and lavender which was used in this. Pretty cool. This was drunk while listening to the Eels – Electro Shock Blues Show, a pretty neat live album from the Eels.