Prairie Artisan Ales - Prairie Ale

Prairie Artisan Ales: Prairie Ale (USA: Saison: 8.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice. Small white head. Medium carbonation.

Nose: Yeastie. Dry lemon juice and lychee. Some crisp hops and light bitterness.

Body: Big dried apricot. Lychee. Tart grapes. Big mouthfeel. Honey touch. Sweet lemon juice. Sherbet feel.

Finish: Sour grapes. Sweet white wine. Light white pepper. Honey. Peaches in syrup. Lightly rustic.

Conclusion: While this is definitely saison influenced in style it feels very different to your standard saison. It has hints of the saison rustic feel, and a light pepper character along with the yeast notes and aroma. So far, so standard, but what happens is that extra abv gives it a real big sweetness, and also pushes up what would normally be understated fruit notes to give a massive fruitiness. That real pushed fruitiness I would not expect even from the craft interpretations of saisons so comes as an, admittedly welcome, surprise here.

You wouldn’t guess that this awaited you from the first impressions the aroma gives though. It comes in quite crisp, yet still noticeably yeastie, and not out of expectations – however as soon as you take the first sip the illusion is dispelled. There is an instant fruit sugars and syrup sweetness, which then fades out into more mellow grapes and white wine on the way out.

Unfortunately, what I think is the most defining element of the beer is also the one I can trust least in my notes. You see, it is the one element I definitely saw on the bar’s tasting notes, so I am mildly worried it is psychosomatic. Anyway, it is (to my limited experience) a spot on punch in the middle of refreshing tart lychee. That one element just booms out of the beer.

It makes for a hard to define beer, it has huge and unusual fruit flavours, but without the hop character that would often come with that. It has that sasion rustic base, but far sweeter than most of the style. Despite the sweetness it leads out to a wine like dryness. Very hard to pigeonhole here.

I’m going to have to look at it without style expectations then, and just view it as a beer. As such it is lovely, mixing sweet, fruit and rustic as described above – it is far too quaffable for the abv, but thankfully does warn you of the strength with that thick feel and slight wine like notes.

Frankly an excellent merging of styles, white wine meets fruity hops in a crisp sweet and delicious saison. Well worth it.

Background: Since they listed this as “Farmhouse Ale” I double checked with Colonna and Hunter, where I tried this, and this is Prairie Ale. C&H tend to prefer concentrating on the beer’s brewery, flavour and style, so do not always list the actual beer’s name unless you ask them. Anyway, Colonna and Smalls is one of the few coffee houses in Bath which I frequent, and in fact are one of the few places I will actually drink coffee. I am not a coffee fan, but they bring through some outrageously good stuff. So when I heard they were opening Colonna and Hunter to serve coffee and craft beer, I was intrigued. This was the first time I got around to doing a review while visiting. While I like the fact they put tasting notes up I try to avoid looking at them until I have done a review, to avoid being influenced, which is quite hard when they are right in front of you.

Colonna and Hunter