Wednesday, November 12, 2014

#29 Blackberry Saison - Tasting

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

ABV: 6%
IBU: 25
Serving Temp: 35
Carbonation: 2.5
Grade: B

Ok first off, this beer looks really cool.  After a week soaking up the flavor and color from used blackberry skins, it turned a striking shade of red.  The head doesn't last long, quickly fizzing away, but it took half the keg for me to get over the color enough to notice.

The aroma is a little funky; the yeast lead the way, somewhat Belgian, but not as enticing as a nice tripel.  It's a weird combination with the color and it just smells ... off, I can't put my finger on the smell.  As it has matured in the keg, the aroma has improved noticeably, but I wouldn't say it reminds me of anything different.  It's funny how subtle changes can turn the same qualities from bad to good (or vice versa).

At first sip, I was surprised by how sour this beer is!  It turns out I got mostly acidity from the blackberries, with some generic berry flavor following.  I was hoping to get some of that rich blackberry signature in here, but no such luck.  This was from the second batch of berries which were tart to begin with and generally of poor quality so it's no surprise.  After the initial shock of being blasted by berries, I can pick up some of the underlying malt flavor, but it takes some work.  Any yeast driven flavor is hard to identify; there is no discordance here between each of the pieces though (well, after the aroma sorted ) so I'm happy with how the saison yeast pulled things together.  The balance of berry vs beer is definitely in favor of the sour berries, but this is a blackberry beer so it's appropriate.  Last of all, the hop bitterness is present and brings the sip to a firm end.  It reminds me that this is a beer and I think strikes just the right balance with the berries, providing a satisfying dry finish without being harsh or off-putting.

I would say this beer is as good as I could hope for on a first attempt.  I didn't anticipate the amount of acidity I would extract from the used blackberry skins.  It's no surprise as the berries themselves were sour, but I'm curious how different this beer would be if I had used the good berries from the first batch of wine.  The beer was enough of a success that I will definitely try it again next fall, especially since it doesn't require its own batch of berries.  Hopefully next years crop will be more like those from the first batch of blackberry wine, than the ones I used here.

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