Brouwerij Rodenburg Bronckhorster Saison Nouvelle
More like "Beer of the Fortnight" I'm afraid as it's been a busy time here at JC's Beer Blog. Anyway, down to business.
I've been a fan of Rodenburg beers almost since they started back in 2010. I see from my programme for the 2011 Bokbier Festival that I raved about the Dubbelbock ("Fab!!" read my extensive tasting notes). The brewer and owner is Steve Gammage, a Yorkshireman living in exile in the Netherlands for over 30 years now, and his beers are invariably some of the best in the country in my experience. The odd "Bronckhorster" name refers to the locality in which the brewery is situated by the way.
The brewery website doesn't really do justice to the beer range and apart from the one we're about to have a look at I would pick out Hoptimist (a 9% double IPA) and Scrooge (a Christmas beer at 8%) as real star turns out of what is an exceptionally fine selection.
So, Saison Nouvelle. Saisons were of course very much on trend until recently (then every brewer - at least in the UK - that wanted to polish its "craft credentials" jumped on the sour bandwagon). It's a much used and abused style - too many brewers seem to think that just because they've made something with a saison yeast then, hey presto!, it's a saison. If only.
What I want in a saison are three things - some spice notes from the yeast, a decent hop character, and most importantly, a good dry finish. This certainly delivers on two. It's a honey-amber in colour with some hints of spice and hop drifting up as you pour. There's a gentle sweet fruitiness (perhaps a hint of marmalade - that's about as considered as it gets from me) and then the hops come along to play. Nothing too big and bold but assertive enough to take over and run through until the bitter and, yes, dry finish. A touch more spiciness would turn what is by any standards a very good beer into a classic I think.
After making my notes I had a look at RateBeer (as you do) and the reviewers there seem to be all over the place with this one - some of the reviews make me wonder if I drank the same beer.