Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tasting: Fresh Hop Spelt Saison

Sorry for the delay on posting this. I did the Fresh Hop Spelt Saison tasting during the first week of November and I just hadn't gotten around to putting it up.

Aroma: Huge fruit profile from esters and hops: I'm getting juicy fruit, orange, tangerine, passionfruit, hop spicyness and peppery esters with a touch of alcohol warmth. A little pils malt is in the background, as well as a wheaty aroma from the spelt.

Appearance: This beer threw a big raw-wheaty haze when youger, but it's surprisingly clear after about a month in the keg. A slight haze with a light gold pilsner hue. Nice glass lacing, starts with a huge head and falls back to an even 1/4 inch head after a few minutes in the glass.

Flavor: Nice balance of bready, slightly sweet malt, with a big spicy hop flavor contribution. Bitterness is not much higher than say, Saison Dupont, which is a really nice level, as in, it's not a Belgian IPA. Like a lot of fresh-hopped beers I have tried, even my favorite professionally brewed ones, it has a slightly sticky/soapy bitterness at the end. It almost gives a bit of a "cottonmouth" after swallowing. Very drinkable, it ends dry and spicy with a touch of warming alcohol.

Mouthfeel: The raw spelt provides some big body considering the very low final gravity. It's almost creamy. Some of the soapy character I mentioned above in the back of the mouth after swallowing. Very smooth otherwise, no astringency or harsh alcohols.

Overall: I'm super impressed with how this beer turned out. The fairly moderate IBU's keeps this beer a very true saison, while the big aroma and flavor hop profile makes it a bold fresh-hop beer. It's very drinkable and I've never tasted a beer quite like it. I am a little less than impressed with the soapy quality from the hops, but it is not too high. It's more of a nuance that I would like to work out in future incarnations of this beer. I don't think there is anything to do about it except use less fresh hops, which I would be willing to cut back on slightly in the future. Working with the raw spelt was a breeze. The only drawbacks it seems to have is that it is very hard to crush, like probably any unmalted grain would be, and it requires a step infusion mash, but clearly not a cereal mash. I'd highly recommend playing around with the grain, especially in saisons or other beers that require some raw grain contribution.