Saison Fest 2012 has come and gone and we have to wait another 365 days till the next one. After living in Colorado Springs for a year and a half I have come to love Saisons and Farmhouse Ales, due in large part to Trinity Brewing and their persistence in exploring the possibilities of these beers. We’ve seen Saisons of all kinds, from clean, dry, and sharp to messy, playful, and complex. We’ve seen farmhouse ales with wild yeast, with vegetables grown in our own backyards, with saffron, with heather, without hops, with fruit, with almonds, with large amounts of tartness and many other variations. It makes perfect sense that Trinity’s newest flagship beer is Saison Man, a clean and dry saison named after Jason Yester, and it also makes sense that Jason organizes the annual Saison and Farmhouse Ale Festival. This is a day where breweries all over Colorado do some experimentation and bring some very playful offerings. Many of the beers are created for this event, while others are special beers that we just can’t really get this far south of Denver (yet). It’s a lovely festival, I really can’t emphasize it enough. This year I had just as much fun as last year and I’m looking forward to the next one, although I wish we could have it again in 30 days. I hope you enjoy our photos and our recap.

Isaac enjoying a beer
Ska Ska Ska

One of the great things about this festival is that many of the brewers or reps show up to pour the beers and hang out. They’re all happy to answer questions about the beer and share their secrets. John Schneider of Black Fox is chatting with Thomas Larsen of Ska. Both breweries brought some fantastic offerings. I thought Black Fox’s Debut was one of the best of the day, with a nice ginger kick that wasn’t too unlike the sage in their 2011 Shyela. Everyone loved the Diablo, of course, which was also available. Ska brought another crowd pleaser, the Notorious G.I.N., a dark Saison with juniper and peppercorns.

Funkwerks Saison was our favorite straight Saison of the festival last year and has since become my favorite Saison in general. We invited Funkwerks down for a Meet the Brewer night the day before the festival, so it was nice to get some extra time with them. Their Brett Dream is absolutely fantastic, and is available in some of our local stores. This is a beer that is meant to change with time, it has a nice ‘horsy’ Brett aroma and flavor that will potentially be very different given six or so months.

Dogfish Head Saison du Buff
Elevation’s Apis IV wasn’t available but this is what their bottles will look like.

One of the breweries I was most looking forward to was Elevation Beer Co. This was the first time any of us have been able to try their beer. They brought Mount Blanca, a light and citrusy Saison with enough white wheat to make it smooth. Their Signal de Botrange is an early version of a beer that will be bottled in a few months timing. This amber-colored farmhouse ale has sat in Chardonnay Barrels for a month and has a clear oak backbone to it. The Brett yeast will really begin to pick up in the next couple months. These beers were really good and I’m very much looking forward to seeing more of Elevation around. They’ll throw a big opening party in Poncha Springs on May 19th, so be on the lookout for more news on that. Elevation is off to a very good start and they will clearly become a recognized brewery in no time.

Keaton, Jason, Grant, and Conway hanging out.

We all got to hang out and drink in the new outdoor brewery space. Trinity has expanded their brewhouse by 300% and they are keeping their old fermenters in an outdoor patio. There’s some beer in those things right now! Speaking of Trinity, their TPS Report was being served and is always one of my favorite beers. That was fun to try the new batch again, which I also had at the Wild Game Wild Beer dinner. Also, I got to really have my fair share of the new Saison Man beer, which I think is really good, on the hoppier side of things, and will probably be a beer that I order when I’m visiting Trinity.

Another major standout beer was Crooked Stave’s Petite Sour. This beer is very different than the Pure Guava Petite Sour that many are familiar with. Gone are the cheesy Brett notes that some liked and others disliked. Instead we have a beer that is very similar to a Berliner Weisse, with a light tartness from Lactobacillus. The beer goes beyond Berlin though, using Brettanomyces and aged in oak. The beer sits at 4.5% and is extremely easy drinking. Chad calls it a Table Beer, which seems to reference Table Wine. From my understanding this would perhaps mean that the beer has no specific geographic location but perhaps a wider array of geographic influences, including Berlin, Belgium, and Fort Collins. Also Table Beer makes me think of a beer that I can sit with, drink, and eat while hanging out with friends. 4.5% does put it into the top tier of that Session category (depending on who you talk to).

Chad from Crooked Stave chatting with Christian of Elevation
Go team Saison!
The menu
We got to taste the ever-changing Buddha Nuvo thanks to Rockyard Brewing.
St. Feuillien Saison

Shamrock Brewing from Pueblo brought a beer that many people really enjoyed. It was called Zerbert and was made with Colorado Red Wheat and Raspberries. Jason Beuhler seems to be popping up lately, and we’re looking forward to his next contribution in Battle of the Brewers. I didn’t talk with the other guy in the photo but he’s got some huge dreadlocks and the most incredible mustache ever.

Sierra Nevada Ovila

The beer that I believe I enjoyed more than any other was made by Troy Casey of AC Golden. This guy’s beers have done nothing but impress me. He brought a straight Saison that had been bottle-conditioned with a Brett yeast which provided a slight amount of balanced funkiness to this beer that was otherwise light, crisp, smooth, and dry.

Our buddy Kirk enjoying a dark saison

Hey look, a bunch of beer bloggers! We’ve got Lee Williams of Hoptopia and the new Fascinating Ales, Sean Buchan the photographer for Denver off the Wagon, Stevie Caldarola founder of Ladies of Craft Beer, and myself. Good to see these folks!

Before I end here I just want to say that I didn’t have one beer that I didn’t enjoy. I can’t mention everybody and every beer in this post but I really enjoyed every single beer…another reason why this festival is so damn amazing. Big thanks to Trinity Brewing for another successful event and such a great time!

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