Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Southampton Saison that aged very well.


I’d been chided recently by the wonderful individual who gifted me some time back with a 750 ml bottle of Southampton Publick House’s (Long Island NY) Saison to the effect that it might already have passed its prime.

Hmm, I thought, how long could it have been, anyway? I took it home, and forgot about it again – until two nights ago, when I noticed the “2003” date and resolved to pop the cork before it was too late.

It’s true that most of what I’ve read and heard about Belgian Saison “farmhouse” ales indicates they generally were intended for aging, and were brewed in cool weather for keeping until summer, when hotter temperatures made beer making difficult.

But two and a half years? Was I right or wrong in keeping Southampton’s renowned Saison for so long?

Judging from the quality of the ale I drank, it was a good decision.

There was a healthy “pop” at the cork’s removal. Pale golden in color, the liquid was almost completely clear, with a good dusting of sediment in the bottom of the champagne bottle. The nose was fresh, grassy and hoppy.

There was medium body and firm, but hardly heavy, mouth feel. I was surprised to find that the dry-hopped character still was pronounced, vying for attention with the lemony malt and a refreshing dollop of acidity. Esters of spice and pepper peeked through. Delicious.

I began dreaming of pungent country cheeses and crusty bread. Upon examination, it was revealed that the kitchen cabinet held Saltines and sardines, so I elected to drink the remainder unaccompanied, and fantasized about Hainaut province bike routes.

In short, it was as accomplished as its reputation suggests, and a superb example of the Belgian farmhouse style, but brewed right here in America.

To my knowledge, Southampton Publick House beers are unavailable in Indiana and Kentucky, but if you’re in New York … don’t hesitate. The brewery is innovative, has scored numerous times in Great American Beer Festival competitions, and has as good a microbrewing pedigree as there is.

I wonder what else I've hidden that might be worth drinking?

(Photo credit: www.ratebeer.com)

2 comments:

Stan Hieronymus said...

You might also note that Phil Markowski, the brewer, wrote the book on saisons: "Farmhouse Ales." Primarily for brewers, but lots for consumers as well. You should keep a copy hand for your patrons to read.

The New Albanian said...

I have a link in the preceding to a page about the book.

You're right; I need to add his name, too.