Against the Grain Coq De La Marche
Product Description: Vous etes le coq de rien. Suffice it to stay, some beers are meant to be the cocks of walks, and some are not. This Session Saison safely falls into step with those beers striding confidently along that most fateful walk. Brewed with a dash of spelt and a healthy late hop addition this fine, frothy friend was fermented warm to perfect attenuation and carbed up high for a flavor that is at once bright, rich, juicy and ultra crisp. Strut your stuff, man. ABV: 5.8% IBU: 31.1
Against The Grain Brewery – Against the Grain Coq De la Marche – 16 oz. can poured into specialty glassware – 5.8% abv.
Sampled from a 16 oz can, I’m digging the matte label with Bojack Horseman style graphic design. Coq de la Marche (Cock of the Walk) is hazy golden in color into the wine stemware with strong head formation and good foam retention as expected. The aroma is non-traditional for the Belgian farmhouse style with American dry-hopping elements of juicy cantaloupe, candied ginger, and lemon drop candies. As it warms up, it favors the malty side of things with a sweet clover honey aroma and hints of air freshener. Once at room temperature, the aroma is all yellow apple but not in the strong estery way. It’s all over the place, but nothing about it says Belgian let alone saison. Expressive yeast is the hallmark of this style in my opinion and that’s not my takeaway here.
Flavor-wise, this is very sweet up front like Southern sweet tea moving to a bland mid-palate. In the backend it is grainy with wheat flavors while the mouthfeel is watery with paper-like oxidation. Flavors of apple end up dominating but it’s very dusty and there’s really nothing that says saison – no Belgian elements, no herbal elements, no farmhouse elements. Bitterness, or any hop character for that matter, is non-existent. From the dusty mouthfeel, this beer may be stale or perhaps heat damaged from transit. But imagining this in tip-top shape, it is closer to an American honey blonde ale underneath.
Overall, this certainly has room for improvement. And that’s perfectly fine because saison is very difficult to master. It’s a beer that really needs terroir like good wine. An incredible house yeast blend, really high quality malt, higher carbonation, and muted but substantial hop presence are all needed. Because of this, some of the most prolific and admired breweries out there don’t even attempt to make this style. So I admire any brewery taking a stab at it.