Last seen: 3 years 25 weeks ago
So, I'm not sure sometimes, if a favorite style makes me more or less inclined to like or dislike a particular brew (or burger, or band, or author or, or, or, or......). Am I subconsciously preparing myself to like it or am I bound to be more critical as I seek out the particular notes and touchstones that typify that particular style? I don't really. A little of both perhaps? It is, clearly, a conundrum for the ages...
At any rate, Pretty Things are doing some kick ass brews. They have cute story too. They are a Massachusetts Husband and wife brewming team (http://www.prettythingsbeertoday.com/site/) doing their own take traditional styles.
The Field Mouse's Farewell is a Saison. I love a Saison. While I tend to reach for styles inspired by the English brewing tradition (ok, the IPA in particular and ok, the American craft brewing take on the IPA, specifically), the Saison is French/Belgian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saison) and it is one of the more satisfying brews, for this man's palate, for many reasons.
I'm a hophead. In my mind, "too bitter" is a term that bears no meaning. It's as if one was speaking biblical Aramaic to me. Hop bitterness is what makes a beer "refreshing" if you will. The bitter wall tends to bring a crisp end to the lingering undertones and finish that a malty beer tends to draw out, especially as a beer warms. A Saison is as hoppy as it is malty. It is one of the more balanced styles. The Belgian yeasts that are utilized in the Saison brewing process bring a sugary, fruity, light candy sweetness (as opposed to the heavier, syrupy malt character that German and English yeasts bring to their respective styles) to the malt backbone. This particular aspect of the yest/malt interplay is a perfect pairing with the bitterness of the hops (especially American hops, which tend to, especially the pacific Northwest varieties like Cascade and Amarillo, have a citrusy, piney character to them) because that lighter body, despite the considerable sweetness, plays well with the cold water to the face that the wall o' hops tends to be.
The Field Mouse's Farewell follows this dynamic quite well. Sweet, light, spicey and bitter. It's a complex brew that, despite the multitude of flavor and aroma notes, works well as a singular unit. It can be appreciated on multiple levels, really. Sipped and savored and dissected on your tounge, or chugged as a summer session brew, cuz really, thats what the Saison was designed for: a reward for French and Belgian farm workers who worked their asses of (and thus, the origin of its other name, The Farmhouse Ale).
As it is brewed with both rye and wheat (as well as barley), the Field Mouse has a tart, tangy spice note imparted by the rye that is counterbalanced by the smoothness and banana like sweetness of the wheat.
All in all, a unique tweak on a venerable and noble peasant beer style. I will, undoubtedly, be back for more.