Thursday, June 14, 2012

La Rouge Tasting

Reviewed 6/9/12

La Rouge has only been in the bottle for 3 and a half weeks now, so the Brett hasn’t really had any time to develop. Those Citra hops should be quite intact though. I don’t have any appropriate commercial beers on hand to compare it to this time around, but I’ll try to get one for the next tasting. Going into this I was expecting a peppery, dry saison with big tropical hops and maybe some mellow cellar-must type funk form the Brett C.
Boy, I wish it lived up to those expectations…  
Appearance: Murky brownish red with a khaki head that falls to a thin layer instantly and leaves no lacing. This is the ugliest beer I have made to date. The lack of retention is probably due to the super low FG combined with the relatively high alcohol content for a beer of this modest OG (6.5% for 1.051). Hopefully some age and the Brett will help with the murky mess down the line.
Aroma: Spicy yeast and a big hop nose that puts passion fruit way out front. There is some floral orange and cantaloupe in the back, but no typical “green” type hop notes. Definitely smells sweet thanks to a combo of fruity hops, sugary malt, and spicy yeast. If any of the fruitiness is coming from the Saison yeast or Brett, it matches the POG profile of the hops perfectly because all I get besides that is some allspice type esters.
Taste: Dry and slick with all of the big tropical notes from the nose. There is a hint of fruity sweetness mid-sip, but earthy yeast and tropical flowers really dominate the whole experience. The low finishing gravity lets the 6.5% ABV show much more like a big hot 8% and the finish is very Capitan Morgan-esque. There is a faint lingering bitterness that Kelly had to point out for me to notice.
Mouthfeel: Slick and sugary while still finishing quite dry. The high carbonation could even be higher. The booze is actually a nice touch as it serves to clean up the big fruit and spice bomb fall out.  
Overall: This isn’t really a bad beer, nor is it hard to drink in any way, but I am still disappointed. It just didn’t live up to my expectations. Dry and very flavorful, but kinda’ one-dimensional. The Citra hops are so damn in your face that I’m having a hard time getting a solid grasp on what the yeast is contributing. As it sits right now it drinks like a slice of Pineapple Upside-down Cake with a Mai-Tai on the side. Not bad if you’re into that kind of thing, but I’m not.
Takeaways: Hopefully some time will see the hops fade and the Brett get funkier.  Otherwise this will be a once only brew.  UPDATE: I have decided that this is a Biere De Garde, not a saison. Def. got the farmhouse thing going on, but not in the big refreshingly fruity way that I look for in a Saison. This one is going to sit and hopefully rely on its spice and earthy character once the hops fade and Brett develops.

EDIT: Had another bottle 8/1/12 and it is definately changing for the better. Dryer, more complex earth and spice coming out, and a greatly improved balance thanks to an integration of the hopy fruity flavors and some new acidity in the finish. Look for a second review in a few months.


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