Before you even read this post, do yourself a favor and watch this video put together by Stone Brewing Co. about the collaboration between Greg (Stone), Sam (Dogfish Head) and Bill (Victory) to create Saison du BUFF.
I LOVE these guys and what they (and many other brewers) are doing for craft beer. They’re showing the Big 3, as well as many other corporations in the U.S., that collaboration is a good thing. Are they still each others competition? Of course. But they’re also each others allies, and together, through collaboration, they make the beer scene a better place for all of us craft beer drinkers.
Saison du BUFF (Brewers United for Freedom of Flavor) was brewed with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme 3 times: once at Stone (released in May 2010), at Victory (released in August 2010) and Dogfish Head (also released in August 2010). Each brewery’s take on the beer has its own unique bottle label, done in the style of that brewery.
I sampled the brews from Dogfish Head and Stone back in September of 2010 and wrote about them for the Ladies of Craft Beer website. I had a tough time getting the third bottle—from Stone—until a wonderful benefactor came through and sent me a bottle (and no, it wasn’t Stone).
So, here’s my take on all three of the SDBs:
Dogfish Head Brewery
Poured into a snifter, the beer pours a bright golden hue with a light, fluffy head. The aroma is very typical of the Saison style—spicy with hints of citrus. But giving it a few more sniffs, I could pick up some really wonderful herbal notes. There wasn’t one herb that stuck out more than another, but the fragrance was lovely and balanced.
Upon first sip, I got a lot of carbonation bite, most likely because the beer was too cold. I let it come up in temperature before trying it again, which is what you want to do with any overly-chilled beer (your tongue won’t pick up on the myriad flavors a beer has if its too cold). After 10-15 minutes, I was rewarded with a flavor that matched its aroma to a T—nice and dry, spice and herbal notes, with hints of citrus.
Victory Brewing Co.
Like DFH’s version, Victory’s SDB pours a pale gold with a thin, white head that dissipates fairly quick. The spice is very evident in the nose and a lot of the herbal notes of rosemary, sage and thyme come out—with rosemary taking the forefront. When giving the glass a few swirls to kick up aroma, a bit of barnyard funk comes out, which is a nice touch amidst the herbs and spice.
Ray noticed a light, fruity sweetness to the beer, something he associates with farmhouse ales. He also found the rosemary complimented the citrus in the beer. I had a difficult time recognizing the traditional saison attributes, unlike my first sampling of Dogfish’s SDB. When I looked up Victory’s version, I came across a review that claimed it was “more Prima Pils than saison.” While I agree that this beer is more of another style than a saison, I don’t agree with likening it to a base of Prima Pils. It’s just something … else. And that’s not a bad thing.
If I were to pair this beer with food, I would go for a nice whitefish, like haddock, topped with a not-too-spicy salsa with plenty of cilantro. Ray pointed out that the cilantro would go well with the bright bitterness of the herbs and hops. He also suggested pairing SDB with grilled veggies tossed in a light lemon vinaigrette. Even some bread and the right cheese would go well.
Stone Brewing Co.
Like DFH and Victory’s, Stone’s take on Saison du BUFF poured golden and clear into my geektastic pint glass. A little different from the other two beers was the massive, fluffy, aromatic head. The nose is full of rosemary, and even after letting this bottle get jostled about in my cabinets for nearly six months, it tastes of sweet freshness—almost as if we just picked it up from the Escondido-based brewery. It’s citrusy and herbal, and just the right beer to welcome in the warm weather and spring.
Stone’s version of Saison du BUFF actually reminds me a little of our Ginpel, due to the aromatic rosemary nose. I’m imagining Stone’s offering—as well as the other two—would be excellent to cook with. Perhaps a braised pork roast with roasted veggies?