For those of you not familiar with Free State, I should point out that it has the best of all possible mottos on its glassware/shirts (which are omnipresent in Lawrence – every Lawrencian has at least one (if not more) in varying states of disrepair from being loved to death). I’ve tried to capture it on the pint glass:
Name: Bumper Crop Saison
Origin: Free State Brewery, Lawrence, KS
Style: Belgian Saison/Farmhouse Ale
I drank this: on tap at the brewery alongside their insanely good tuna sandwich* (very good pairing – locals should try it)
I’m not really big on Saisons as a whole - the Saisons are all funky and I am just not down with that yet.** I’m working on it, and am starting to find them less repulsively horse barn-like than I used to. That said, I did like this beer much more than I was expecting to. Maybe I’m learning the funk, or maybe Free State didn’t overfunk it.
In any case, Free State threw all kinds of stuff into this lovely little beer. There’s rosehip, lemon peel, black peppercorn, and then the bananaclove flavors of the yeast. The combination smells kind of like a dirty summer perfume: herbal and dirty and slightly floral.
The flavor is layered and complex in a light-bodied, refreshing beer. There’s a touch of honey, lots of herbs (lemon thyme came prominently to mind), a definite sort of lemony hop touch, pale malts, grass, and finally the dirty, earthen flavors demanded of the style. If rolled around the tongue for a while, a sharp sort of piney flavor will develop – the combination makes it feel like standing outdoors on a Summer’s day.
I don’t know that this is the most textbook of Saisons, but it’s really drinkable, especially on a disgustingly humid day. Given the Saison was first brewed in Autumn to be ready the following Summer for the fieldworkers, refreshing is probably the best thing it can be. I enjoyed this quite a bit – I’d encourage everyone else to try it, even if they, like me, don’t particularly want horsebarn beer. This was good stuff.
*The Savona Tuna Salad Sandwich. It’s. AMAZING. Tuna, cannelini, lots of herbs, olive oil dressing with lemon or something. Nice, light, perfect. ADORE.
**”Funk” is not a term I’m making up here - it’s the term often used to describe the sort of dirtyweird earthen flavor that Belgians – Farmhouse Ales in particular – often have. There’s a particular strain of wild yeast that imparts the flavor most strongly. It tends to pop up in Saisons, Farmhouse Ales and Sour Ales, so if you’re not a fan of the funk, stay away from those styles. Or do as I’m doing and start going after them at every given opportunity in an attempt to figure out what all the fuss is about.