Just like cats and catnip, beer writers love barrel-aged saison. When a yeast-forward beer marinates in large oak vessels for an extended period of time with wild yeast and bacteria, it can create the most complex and delightful beers worthy of any palate. Once bottled and conditioned with additional yeast, the final product is layered and intricate to a beer geek, yet pleasantly wine-like for the novice. Most of the time, the price point might keep a novice away from the style, until now.
For only $5.99 per 375ml bottle, Bruery Terreux has just released Saison Ardennes, a foeder-aged beer that is shockingly decadent for such an approachable price tag.
“Saison Ardennes is a tart Saison, hand-crafted to embody the dependable, spirited nature of a classic Belgian-style farmhouse ale,” says the brewery’s Kevin Lara. “Our rendition expresses further depth and character from a six-month fermentation and maturation in one of our newest 103 barrel large oak foeders previously used for wine up in Santa Rosa. It’s a bottle of beer that will pleasantly evolve over time, thanks to the presence of wild yeast added for bottle conditioning.”
Ardennes, named after the south-east side of Belgium known for its hilly, lush green forests, pours a glowing golden haze with a fluffy white head that quickly dissipates. Honeycomb, wildflowers, kumquat, and an herbal marmalade character rings the nose. As it warms, some funky oak pops out. I wouldn’t consider this beer a “sour” per se, as it surely doesn’t pucker like the majority of enamel-strippers that were popular years ago. Saison Ardennes is balanced like a beerish wine and finishes crisp and dry.
I once bought a case of my favorite Bruery beer, Tonnellerie Rue (fresh oak fermented saison) to see how it developed over time. Since it’s long gone and that experiment was so delicious, I think it’s time I did that again with Ardenne. At least the price tag will be a lot friendlier! Don’t be surprised to see me swatting feather cat toys before stretching down for a long afternoon nap after a bottle. Meow.
Buy Saison Ardennes at The Bruery Tasting Room, Terreux Tasting, or on their website.
Other funky beer news: Orval Day is back for the 3rd year this Saturday, March 24th. The classic Belgium Trappist Pale Ale is hosting events all over the globe for charity. See if something is happening in your neighborhood!