Traditional is a word that does not describe Stone Brewing Company. The West Coast brewing pioneers have never shied away from putting their own, and often hoppy, twist on things. Their Saison is no exception.
The Stone Saison pours a beautiful, shimmering, golden orange and is quite clear for the style. The thick white head releases a bouquet of typical Saison aromas of banana, clove, white pepper, and grains of paradise. There is also a slight sugary sweetness detected by the nose.
In an homage to the style, the initial flavors of the beer and the more dominant flavors when the beer is its coldest are banana, orange peel, and fruity esters. However, once the beer warms a bit, Stone’s handiwork really begins to show. Cue the music, because peppery spiciness and hop bitterness are dancing all over the tongue. Herbal qualities and flavors of coriander contribute to the spiciness, but there are plenty of hops to stand their ground. The hops seem to have more of a Noble variety profile (heavy on the Saaz possibly). The tongue is constantly intrigued and guessing whether what it is tasting is more from the spices or the hops. Hidden deep are also slightly sour flavors of green apple and pear with a little bit of saltiness. The finish is dry but long. The pepperiness and hop bite are in no hurry to leave.
Stone packs all of these flavors into a 6% beer, so you don’t need a special occasion to enjoy one. But that’s not to say that it is not appropriate for such.
The Stone Saison will pair well with a juicy peppercorn steak or some tangy cheese. It would also go well with chili chocolates.
Stone’s Saison is a perfect example of how a brewery can take a traditional style and add their own character without creating a finished product that is unrecognizable. With a nod towards tradition, Stone respectfully turns off the beaten path. Much like us bikepackers are fond of doing.
Bikepacker friendliness (glass isn’t for the trails) Not rated
Aroma (herbal and spicy) 8/10
Flavor (fruity, peppery and hoppy) 9/10
Style-appropriateness (Saison with a twist) 7/10
A special thanks goes to the brew review crew of Kasey, Jen, and Kristin for helping with this week’s tasting.