Saison Liaison Unison Comparison: Left Coast Board Walk & Lakefront Rendezvous
Enjoyed on 12/23/2011
Brewery: Left Coast Brewing Co. ||| Lakefront Brewery
Location: LCB – San Clemente, CA ||| LB – Milwaukee, WI
Beer: LCB – Saison ||| LB – Biere De Garde
Presentation: LCB – 22 oz brown bottle, capped ||| LB – 22 oz brown bottle, capped
ABV: LCB – 7.8% ||| LB – 7.2%
Hops: LCB – Tettnanger, Mt. Hood ||| LB – Saaz, Mt. Hood
Malt: LCB – Some percentage of wheat, otherwise unknown ||| LB – 2-row, Munich, otherwise unknown
Adjuncts: LCB – Bitter orange peel ||| LB – N/A
From the Web:
LCB – There is nothing like summer, and no better way to celebrate than with an ice cold Board Walk Saison. The Saison yeast strain provides this beer with a pleasant citrus aroma. Our addition of bitter orange peel at the end of the boil gives it just the right hint of orange and a slight bitterness. Wheat malt balances out all of the flavors keeping this beer silky smooth.
Can’t you picture yourself enjoying a Board Walk at the end of the board walk? Cheers!
LB – A Biere De Garde—literally, “a beer to keep”—is a style conceived in the hills of Northern France. This traditional farmhouse ale is brewed with a special French ale yeast, giving it a subtle, yet delightful ester fruitiness. Ample amounts of 2-row malt give Rendezvous a luscious, full body. Generous amounts of Munich malts are added for additional sweetness and give Rendezvous an impassioned red hue. Saaz and Mt. Hood hops are added for a mild bitterness and clean finish. Robust, smooth, and surprisingly refreshing, the effect on your palate is an intense, fleeting episode: a rendezvous.
Beer Advocate: N/A (3.71) ||| LB – 84 (3.71)
Rate Beer: LCB – 58 (3.11) ||| LB – 70 (3.19)
Music Accompaniment: Earth – Live
I’ve collected a long list of saisons in preparation for this column. This is problematic for me because I have very little time to write these days, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, and I want to write about them all, but saisons don’t keep very well. This presents quite a predicament. A quandary indeed. Solution: tackle two at once and find the god damned time Tim! Let’s hope that working 6 days a week at a brewery and a homebrew shop has made me a more educated writer. Thanks for bearing with me/us.
I’d also like to take this time to briefly send endless props and respect to DSR. Not only is he a proud 1/3 of Beer Blotter but he is my best friend and future business partner. I sit here telling you that I’m crazy “busy” after posting my first article in over a month and he, with his newborn and his own multiple entrepreneurial duties, finds time to keep BB out of complete hibernation in my stead. Next time you see him, if you know him, hug him. I plan to (as he is currently in NYC as our Facebook indicates).
LCB -Pours a clear amberish gold color topped with a pure white, fluffy head. Bubbles rise rapidly and keep the head in tact for some time. The clarity is really a sight to see. Some minimal lacing is left on the glass.
LB – Pours a slightly cloudy red color that was very much not expected. The head is off white and is sizable on the pour but settles to nothing but a ring where the beer, glass and air all meet. No lacing is found.
LCB – This beer smells much better than a 54 on rate beer would ever suggest. It’s fantastic actually. So complex in it’s esters and phenols. For being a super clear beer, I’m amazed at how yeasty it smells. There is a chemically type of heat coming off the top that reminds me of smelling beer right out of the fermenter. I do not think that I would have picked out the fact that orange peel was added to this. There is surely some fruitiness, but I get mostly spice in the nose. It almost smells like caraway. I’d suspect that the brewers allowed this to ferment on the low end of the yeast’s temperature range to pull phenols and balance the bitter orange. It works exquisitely. There is also a faint tartness that makes for a mighty authentic saison nose.
LB – This beer does not smell like a saison in any way. I guess that’s because it isn’t, technically, a saison. A biere de garde is the saison of France, or the farmhouse beer of France, but if you read the BJCP style guideline, like I literally just did, this beer fits in very well. It’s surprisingly malt forward with huge notes of Munich malt imbued biscuit flavors. There is a distinct fruit quality to it that inspires thoughts of plum flesh. If you told me this was an amber ale I’d say it was one of the best I’d ever smelled.
LCB – There is something about the flavor here that really reminds me of a starchy, under-ripe banana mixed with a tart, spicy guava or passion fruit. The spices and fruits of the nose are equally present on the tongue, but it’s slightly easier to hash them out with the use of a second receptor source. There’s a tartness that stimulates the back corners of the mouth, but it’s still subtle in the grand scheme of things. The spice tastes more of white pepper than the aforementioned caraway. There is an appropriate bitterness and it’s effect adds one more level of pull on the tongue, which is really asked to work overtime here. This is an exercise that reminds me, yet again, how much I love saisons.
LB – Is this a German amber lager? I’m so confused right now. OK, yes, it’s evident that this isn’t a normal, clean lagered beer. It has yeasty nuances, but it’s challenging to really appreciate them in light of that other beer I’m drinking right now. Honestly, this beer is a really nice change of pace. I can’t say I’ve had anything like this in the recent past. It’s exciting that it’s make in America’s Heartland. Respect! But oh, the flavor…it’s quite rich is a very toasted malt fashion. There is some light caramelization that I can’t quite pinpoint the source of. Possibly crystal malt, possibly melanoidin, possibly heavy boiling, possibly just an ass load of Munich. I also can’t decide if that fruitiness is a yeast derivative or just a byproduct of the above malts. Did they do a pure decoction? Good lord I feel like I need to take a class. Maybe I need a venture to Milwaukee.
LCB -This brew finished with a long lingering spice and a dryness that is all too familiar. Well after the swallow, the flavor remains with very little degradation. Highly impressive.
LB – The overall richness of this beer allows for an aftertaste in stark contrast to the saison. The malt flavors are unchanged and linger. The mouth waters with sugarlust. It’s like the sweet crusty exterior of a bran loaf. Grain is in center stage and it’s shining in the spotlight.
LCB -This is an excellent example of the style in my opinion. The yeast is a work horse. The added orange peel may be non-traditional but it just adds a balance and is in no way outlandish. The color, clarity, ester and phenol production, dry finish…all pieces to the saison puzzle. I want more.
LB – I must admit, I was thrown off by this beer. It is not at all what I expected – which is amazing! I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like it, it’s just that I expected these two beers to be much more similar than they are. Here, the yeast is very much not the workhorse. The malts, or the mashing, or however the hell this beer is brewed is what defines it. I can’t help but respect the brewers.
As an added experiment, in light of my double fisting, I’ve decided to blend the two and see what sinister concoction remains after the smoke clears. 50/50. Surprisingly, the lighter Board Walk’s yeast juggernaut stands up to the malt stronghold of Rendezvous. Somehow, the combination allows for alcohol to rush out in retreat, as though the abv was not averaged but summed. There is a slight smokiness (coincidence) that must be phenol meets biscuit. The finish becomes insanely smooth – almost a perfect middle ground between the two. The appearance is a fucking mess with a dank haze and a very unattractive hue, but I’d be OK drinking this blindly, before the smoke cleared.