Le Quatre Saison from Red Rock Brewery, in Salt Lake City, Utah, was a fun find and drink. The Saison (“season” in French) is a farmhouse style ale that undergoes a unique brewing process. Historically, these beers were fermented during the winter to be consumed during the summer (thus the name). Most beers have a much shorter fermentation and aging period. Saison style beers fell out of favor until recently. The style has caught on with many American microbreweries and is now seeing a resurgence. The beers are known for their spicy and herbal characteristics, due to the addition of various ingredients beyond hops. I recommend drinking this beer from a tulip or standard wine glass to focus the aroma directly to your nose.
Le Quatre has a beautiful hazy straw color. It poured beautifully with abundant suds that collected into a thick cap of foam above the beer. I was disappointed to see the head quickly die and fail to be revived. I agitated it continuously while drinking to stir up the aroma. Head on the beer helps the aroma get up from the liquid and to your nose. This is important because much of the enjoyment of drinking beer comes from the aroma, which is why you should always drink craft beer from a glass.
The aroma profile was anchored by a strong yeast component. It smelled like freshly baked bread on my first approach. That quickly gave way to a wave of delightful spice and herbal notes. Coriander and a sweet lavender aroma made their way to my nose, lingering pleasantly even after setting down my glass. Those notes faded into a general herbal aroma, a lot like the bulk spice section in a health food store. A pleasant, sweet, honey aroma was detectable as well.
The flavor was surprising due to the sweet aromas of honey, lavender, and coriander. It was quite dry and there was a considerable spice component to the flavor profile. I tasted coriander and cloves. The yeast component was present with a subtle breadiness and a light mouthfeel. It took a moment to settle into the flavors because I had set the expectation for sweetness and was met with something completely different. It is a very dry beer. There was a faint sour component as well. Many farmhouse style ales have this type of flavor component, often due to bacteria that are sometimes added to create that effect, but came about originally because of the conditions the beers were historically brewed in farmhouse conditions.
The finish was yet another surprise; it swung into bitter flavor direction. It lingered for quite some time with elements of lemon peel and what registered to me as Campari or Angostura bitters.
This beer was a fun one! It was the first beer I had tried from Red Rock Brewing Company, and it did not disappoint. Saison’s are now out of drinking season (they are being brewed during the fall and winter) but don’t hesitate to grab one. Now that the brewing cycle isn’t dictated by seasonal weather conditions you can pick them up year-round. Drink this beer on its own to fully appreciate it. It is quite nuanced and I can’t imagine a food pairing that would make it better. That is just a suggestion of course!