Regular watchers of Brew Blog will know that we're big fans of Belgian beers. Now, given that it's such a small country, you'd be forgiven for assuming that Belgium has about five beers. But during a visit there a few years back, we were told that the country lays claim to 692 styles, a number we don't really have a way of verifying but that at least gets the point across that it's more than five.
Thanks to that ridiculously high number, we aren't that well-educated on every style the country has to offer, though Belgians' use of distinctive yeasts tends to link most of their styles together in a somewhat cohesive way.
Today's beer is a good example of that vague but interesting link, in the form of a "Belgian farmhouse ale" from Twisted Pine Brewing Co. of Boulder, Colorado. (Regular readers will remember that a lukewarm review of a Twisted Pine brew a few months back led the brewery to send a pack of additional offerings for our sampling -- and your reading -- pleasure).
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This Le Petit Saison Ale was unfiltered, allowing the yeast flavors to develop (most mass-produced beers are flash-heated before bottling to kill the yeast, then filtered), and it's a good thing. This beer is a perfect example for newcomers of what Belgian yeasts have to offer.
You'll taste a vague fruitiness during the sip and in the finish. That's the yeast. You'll taste spices at the corners of the mouth, some complexity you might not be used to. Also the yeast.
This saison is light, non-confrontationally fruity, and finishes clean. Though the weather has dipped too far to the brisk side for this offering, wait for a warm afternoon and treat yourself.
This is a good beer, and a great comparison for those who most often drink thick, malty, boozy Belgians or for those who want an introduction to uniquely Belgian flavors without the commitment required of a 12 percent-alcohol beer.