A lot of people have been complaining that I haven’t been writing enough scintillating reviews. By a lot of people, I mean no one, and by complaining, I mean remaining conspicuously silent on the topic. Truth be told, I have an excuse. I’m a new father. She’s the perfect way to allow me to write off any shortcoming on my part to the wonder and social necessity of raising a future president (of a future Justin Bieber cover band fan club). In fact, she’s so awesome at allowing me to escape social and business responsibility that my wife and I have taken to calling her our “excuse.“ “Our excuse’s two month birthday is today.” Or, “Sorry, I can’t attend your gam gam’s funeral, but our excuse has been a bit testy on Saturdays.” Or, “Boss, I’d love to stay late on Friday, but my excuse has to get some vaccinations.”
So, enough excuses, let’s get to the drinky drinky. This episode, I try Anchorage Brewing Company’s Love Buzz Saison. At $14.99, it’s pricy. As many of you know, every time I do one of these, I hint, not so subtly, that brewery’s should send me free beer to try and rave about, get drunk on, or both. Sadly, no takers … so far (there’s still time). But, Stan (Mr. Taste Terminal) did give me this beer to try- for FREE. Finally, the squeaky wheel gets the beer. Based on how delicious it is, I need to squeak more often.
What is it?
Holy Lord this is one good beer. Dare I say, but this beer is well worth the 15 bones. Seek it out. The description on the label says: “Ale brewed with Hobbs Family rose hips, peppercorns, and orange peels. Dry hopped in the barrel with Citra Hops. Triple fermented- First in the tank with a Belgian yeast, second in French oak Pinot Noir barrels with brett, and finally in the bottle with a third yeast for natural carbonation.”
Damn, the label is more verbose than I. That said, I think a super descriptive label is so great in really honing in on the quality of the beer and the deft touch of the brewer. On the opposite end of the spectrum, in the hands of a hack, run on descriptions serve as a way to obfuscate the truth, which is that they have put layer upon layer of description and flavors so as to never allow you to truly determine the quality of the beer. It’s like Medieval Times giving you an epic show so as to distract you from the sub standard meal proffered by some community college dropout.
The best beers use each ingredient to tell a part of a story, making it a piece of the whole. Together they make an ensemble, coming together to create a beer much better than the sum of its parts. I am so happy to report that this is true of Love Buzz.
On to the pour
[quote]Saison is a perfect vehicle for so many interpretations. It’s on par with the shrimp uses listed by Bubba in Forrest Gump. There’s dark saison, fruit saison, rye saison, barrel aged saison, hoppy saison, regular saison … Here it serves to act as a welcoming base and perfect complement to all of the elements it employs.
Pouring into a tulip, I am greeted with hazy orange nectar that glows, reflections of light bouncing off of it. A fluffy, white head crowns the glass, with explosions of aromatic wisps of cotton candy as the carbon dioxide bubbles burst. From a looks perspective, oooh la and la.
Aromatically, what wafts forth seems like a modern trailer where the editor shows you the whole movie in the preview. In a world, blah blah, blah. Car chase, car chase, gratuitous nudity, wise-cracking African American boy, car chase, the killer’s still alive, Betty White cameo, I vomit, car chase, set up for a sequel, fade out.
And so it is here. Orange peel, it’s zesty, citric, oily character busts from the confines of the glass. With it follows the wild funk, the barnyard character so obviously rife with Brettanomyces. Well, we know where this one is going. I might as well eat an orange in a barn and call it a day.
Oh sure, I know where this is headed, but it is a free beer. I might as well dig in and pretend to intelligently consider its merits. Yup, as expected, a citric twang tickles the palate. And, I taste a wild funk. And—woah, woah woah, woah, stop the clock. This beer is complex. It’s fully possessing of everything it promises, but delivers so much more.
Bitter. Wow, an amazing hop profile. Bitterness stings slightly, and it adds a great counter point to the Brett. It’s a smart decision, as they serve to enhance each other. Neither is this beer too funky nor too bitter. They come to greet you, and bring with them some friends.
Referring back to my earlier point, the description here is a road map. This is something that sets this beer apart. It’s easy to do a long, windy description that means nothing; take it from me. Ten sets of colliding, wooden candles explode across the parquet as the slick, onyx orb rumbles down the lane. Yeah, we get it, some fat guy went bowling. Here, the beer’s description is truly evocative and accurate- no hyperbole or errata in sight.
Breathing out through the nose, as I draw in the liquid, the flavors separate into their individual quadrants, allowing each to take their bow on the palate’s stage. An effervescent, scrubbing body cleans each layer from the previous, creating a stratified, differentiated whole comprised of an amalgamation of separate but complimentary pieces.
I am hit immediately with a citric, bitter edge, dry as it is, that gives an impression of a beer slighter and more manageable than this is. Wow, here we are with this bone dry beer, as one might expect from a Brett beer, and the crisp finish tricks the drinker into plowing forward for its thirst quenchitude. That’s right, quenhcitude! Drinkable and lovely, a far cry from the perception of an 8% quaff, Love Buzz cries out for gulping.[quote2 align=right]
Brett hits you up top, a nice dose of funk, some barnyard character. Though wild, and full of farmhouse fun, the bitterness sweeps in, following with fresh grassy notes, this is not Tarzan wild, but more tame as though some noble savage has been tamed by a beautiful missionary. As it warms, and my nucleated glass feeds the head, funk gives way to a vinous grape point that washes across, with its spicy peppercorn partner.
You see in the description rose hips and Pinot noir barrels and you imagine in your head the flavor of roses and wood, but the reality of the flavor is deeper and truer to the words than the connotation. Pinot noir, the dark, tannic, bitter and sweet grape notes come forth more than pure wood barrel infusion. Rose hips do their duty in imparting a citrus note, slightly sweet but enveloped in a bitter embrace. Not rosy, per se, but your mind wanders to a slightly flowery aroma, likely more from hop than hip, but damn sure wonderful, all the same.
Have I said enough? No human could possibly want me to offer more in description, yet no litany of words seems sufficient to fully encompass the full spectrum of flavors and aromas contained herein this tremendous effort. I guess them Alaskans know how to make a damn good beer. Well done, Anchorage. Now, get yourself a Greyhound to Washington and really get to work. Let’s take this bad boy from $15 to $10. Daddy can’t afford to get as crazy drunk on this as he would like. I have to drink it sparingly and treat it with respect and more as celebration that libation. Oh, wait! Maybe this beer is meant to be treated that way. I guess we’ll never know.
Jace Milstead lives in Los Angeles, is a Certified Cicerone in the craft beer industry, an actor and comedian. He’s dubbed “the Diane Sawyer” of the beer industry after interviewing industry legends such as Kim Jordan from New Belgium Brewing, Jim Koch from Boston Beer Co., Russian River Brewing Co.’s Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo, and international beer personnel such as Bruno Reinders, the head brewer of Belgium based Mort Subite to representatives from Weihenstephan Brewery, the oldest brewery in the world. He’s also interviewed Mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders.