Reviewed: pFriem Barrel Aged Saison III
Official description: Saison means season in French, and for our 2019 season we’re unveiling pFriem Barrel Aged Saison III – a fresh Farmhouse Ale brewed in Sauvignon Blanc barrels for just under a year. The result is floral, funky, dry and effervescent, full of geranium and grape aromas that melt into notes of pineapple and minerality. À santé!
Malts: Gambrinus Canadian Pilsner, Weyermann Pilsner, Rahr 2 row, Rahr raw white wheat, Weyermann Acidulated malt. Hops: German Tettnang, Motueka, Citra, Hallertau Blanc. Yeast: Farmhouse Ale, Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Brettanomyces clausennii. 6.5% ABV, 30 IBUs.
pFriem Family Brewers – pFriem Barrel Aged Saison III – 375ml bottle served in Rastal Harmony glass – 6.5% ABV
Barrel Aged Saison III is a new beer for 2019 that builds on a series. Barrel Aged Saison II from 2018 was a slightly different beer that included spelt, red wheat, and Sorachi Ace hops. While the original Barrel Aged Saison from 2017 included oats, Strisslespalt hops, and was aged in Chardonnay barrels.
I’m sampling pFriem’s Barrel Aged Saison III from a corked and caged 375mL bottle. The front label is clean and minimalist with “pFriem Barrel Aged” the only text given. On the pink neck label is the name of the beer. On the back label, you’re given the description shown above along with the vintage year and a bottled-on date. My bottle’s date is a bit worn off, but it seems to read 07/30/19 – which would place it around four months old. After removing the wire cage, the cork comes out with a mild hiss and pop. Into my glass, Saison III is a glowing gold color with high carbonation that generates a healthy head of white, rocky foam. There’s a thick layer of sediment at the bottom of the bottle that I withheld intentionally.
Bringing up the glass, the initial aroma is absolutely fabulous. Angel food cake and limeade intermix with a gueuze-like complexity of yuzu fruit, leathery blood orange, and wet stable. There’s subtle funkiness from the yeast strains, but it ends up blending perfectly with the tropical and floral aroma hops to create a mesmerizing nose. I could sit with this one for hours.
Flavor-wise, Saison III is a complex mix of sensations. It’s ultra-light bodied and relatively dry with minimal sugar, but there is still firm graininess from the pilsner malt and even some sweet cream from the wheat. Barrel tannins compound with the leathery flavors from the Brett and bitter melon rind flavors from the hops to provide more than enough structure. The mouthfeel throughout is heavily aerated and buoyant giving it a soft, pillowy effect. The Sauvignon Blanc barrel provides fleeting butteriness and hints of green pear and white peach. There’s ample mineral water and bright seltzer flavors, but it never comes across as too thin or watery. And though this isn’t fermented with souring bacteria, there’s a slight hint of tartness perhaps from the wine barrel or from the Brett itself. The end result is a beer that is endlessly complex but so approachable and refreshing.
Perceived Specs for pFriem Barrel Aged Saison III
pFriem’s Barrel Aged Saison III is a nuanced, delicate beer that rewards you with a lambic-like aroma and complex, quenching flavors. It’s simultaneous depth and easiness to drink is a gustatory revelation – a perfect saison in my book.
Other barrel-aged, Brett saisons that come to mind include those from Ale Apothecary, Logsdon, Jolly Pumpkin, and Anchorage. Saison is perhaps the best style to show off house yeast cultures, so the best ones tend to have a unique “terroir.”
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