My second session beer of the season happened to come to me a few weeks ago as a very timely gift, yet another bottle making the trip up from New Jersey with friends. While not explicitly advertised as a session beer, this offering from Brix City Brewing in Little Ferry, NJ certainly fit the criteria for my purposes. It also gave me with a good opportunity to check out a style I tend not to drink very often.
Beer Name: St. Stephen’s Saison
Brewer: Brix City Brewing
Description: Described on the bottle as a Belgian styled saison. On the company’s website, they provide a brief background on the style and bring up “barnyard” and “horse blanket” as the primary flavor descriptors. Prepared to face some funk, I poured this into a snifter glass for sampling.
Appearance: Pale yellow/golden body with a one finger fizzy white head.
Smell: Slightly sweet with a distinctive spicy Belgian yeast influence.
Taste: Light and sweet upfront, followed by a subtle mixture of floral, banana, and peppery tastes imparted by the yeast with some mild spices thrown in for good measure. I found all of these components complemented and balanced each other nicely with no particular aspect dominating over the others. I did not get any of the “barnyard” flavors mentioned on the website, but that was just as well for me; I don’t mind some funk in the right beer, but I don’t think it would have added anything to this particular one.
Mouthfeel: Medium to light bodied with a lively carbonation. Crisp, dry finish.
Hype Factor: Hype maybe isn’t the right word, but, full disclosure, I was really looking forward to trying this since one of my friends in New Jersey recently got an opportunity to do some brewing at Brix City. How awesome is that?
Overall: Light, refreshing, and an all-round nice beer. Saisons tend to be very hit or miss for me, most often missing due to an overly peppery finish or other such perceived imbalance that I find off-putting. This beer though was definitely a hit. What did it for me was the blend and balance of flavors working out just right for my tastes. Looking forward to trying more from this brewery in the future.