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  • We made a beer with G. Love. Should we have a sip?

    It's called Peach Porch Lounger, it's part of our Lips of Faith Series, and I am happy to say- it's available now. This beer has all the G. Love marks, Southern ingredients, a bluesy charm, and a label to beat the band (very punny, I know)... G. Love came to the brewery a while back and designed the beer of his dreams. He wanted a beer for Front Porch Lounging, and man, did he succeed. Peach Porch Lounger has peaches (duh...), hominy grits, molasses, a French saison yeast for primary fermentation and it's finished with brettanomyces. It carries a nice funk and a peachy sweetness. This beer is delicate enough to grow a daffodil, and yet, it's 9.4% ABV (very punchy). Let's take this next couple minutes to taste and review... 

    Visual: A deep straw color with a rich haze. The head is bright white, and lingers.

    Aroma: Very spicy, saison-y, with herbal and peach overtones. As the brettanomyces ages the over-ripened pineapple aromas will come through a bit more, but for now the it is taking a backseat, and that's perfectly fine.

    Taste: Fruity, sweet and a bit funky. The alcohol fights through in the middle, bringing heat and some pepper flavors. The molasses added sugars to the fermentables, adding some complexity to the alcohols. Very interesting, very good, very strong. 

    Mouthfeel/body: The delicate nature of this beer is most prevalent in the mouthfeel. Peach Porch Lounger starts huge, sweet, chewy and hot. But that fades, and quickly. The finish is dry, like super dry, it leaves you thirsty. Which is good, because there is a whole bottle (or glass) to finish. And, as the brett continues in the bottle, the complexity will only grow and grow. I am looking forward to reviewing this beer again in a couple months when the conditioning yeast has really taken hold. But for now the the beer is awesome and the mouthfeel and body are real highlights.

    Overall: This beer is great (and yes, I'm very biased (but you should expect that by now...)). It's delicate but strong, complex, and fruity, all things I like in beer. The power of the booze in this beer takes it right out of the "sessionable" category, but that does not preclude it from front porch lounging. I like to sit on my steps, sip and watch the world go by. For lawn mowing you should pick a different beer, but for hanging out with friends, listening to tunes and heckling the passers-by, this is the perfect beer.

    We also made a film for the release of this beer, check it out:


    And on that note, I'm out. I have the Fort Collins Tour de Fat to attend tomorrow and my costume is only half done...



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  • Prickly Passion Saison, some history (and some drinking)

    Onward and upward my friends, it's time to talk Saisons.  French for season, Saisons were originally brewed in Wallonia, the southern (and French-speaking) region of Belgium.  These beers were brewed during the autumn/winter in the farmhouses and stored over, aged past the spring, until the migrant pickers showed back up for the next, late summer harvest.  At the end of the previous season's harvest, whatever was grown, be it barley, wheat, etc... that stuff was gleaned from the fields thrown into a mash tun, once boiled off, the yeast of the day would take over. This was way back in the olden days when the water wasn't safe to drink, so the land owners would offer Saisons to the pickers to keep them healthy and invigorated for the harvest.  It is said (on Wikipedia (un-cited, naturally)) that the pickers were entitled to 5 liters of beer per workday to fend off dehydration and fatigue as well as to pack on some much needed calories.  Saisons were originally brewed to be in the low single digits of ABV (like 3%-ish) so no one would be stumbling around the fields looking for their sickle, but strong enough that a hearty smile could be seen on every picker's face.  These beers were different from farm to farm, farmhouse to farmhouse.  Phil Markowski (in Garrett Oliver's The Oxford Companion to Beer) says these beer makers were farmers, not brewers so "the fact that they were not sold commercially is reason to believe that these Saisons were probably made with little mind too repeatability"(711).  The traditional malt bill and hop profile of Ye Ol' Saisons can be seen in this vein too, Phil goes on to state "with the unpredictability of the growing season and the practice of crop rotation it is probable that these brews were made with varying amounts of different grains such as barley, wheat, rye, and spelt.  In years hops were scarce, herbs and spices were likely substituted"(711).  Although the total flavor package of classic Saisons is a little unknown, one thing that is widely assumed is that a delicate, funk (bordering sour) was likely present, and this flavor profile is what has carried Saisons over into the modern brewing age.

    Like sands through the hour glass so is the history of Saisons.  That low digit ABV has climbed steadily, most breweries that offer a Saison these days are living in the 5% to 9% ABV range, as no pickers need to stay sober for the harvest (the Farmhouse Grisette, a sessionable Saison from Breakside Brewery in Portland, OR is a lower ABV and excellent exception (thank you boys, that is a special and delicious beer)).  Complete with Saison dedicated breweries (like Fort Collins own Funkwerks) the current day in American Craft beer is chocked very full of these lovely farmhouse ales.  Here at New Belgium we made our first Saison back in the middle 90's and have made more than one other over the ensuing years, which brings us to the latest edition of the New Belgium Lips of Faith family, Prickly Passion Saison

    As the name suggests this beer is spiced with prickly pear and passion fruit and has been top-fermented with our house Saison yeast.  The fruit is present, some sweet-tanginess is prevalent in the nose while the tongue is rich and earthy.  The malts in the beer stand up to hug the spicing and the overall profile is one to be savored.  Glowing amber in color and not really any hops to speak of, but at 8.5% ABV this Saison is not to be trifled with, the heat from the alcohol warms the belly and the funk warms the soul.  The Saison yeast gives the beer a (not very) subtle punch to the underbelly of sour.  While not a sour, the funk of Prickly Passion Saison is strong enough to be reminiscent of wild beers.  Sip-able and strong, full and rich, Prickly Passion Saison is paired best with a bold cheese or maybe, a fully marbled cut of meat.  22oz bombers only and going fast

    As always the availability of this beer will be short lived (like all Lips of Faith), but the distribution should be wide enough through our markets for you to find some, and it is on the shelves now.  Check the Libation Locator for more details (sorry Texas, the Locator doesn't work in the Lone Star State (we didn't want to mess with Texas)).

    On that note, I'm going home.


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