Sunday, April 13, 2014

Stone's Burning Rosids

I bought Stone Brewing's Matt's Burning Rosids Imperial Cherrywood - Smoked Saison when it was first released knowing nothing about it for a couple of reasons: first, because the beer was an incredible tribute to Stone employee Matt Courtright who died in a tragic work-related accident last summer; and second, Stone was going to use sale proceeds for Matt's charity.  I was so caught up in the beer's backstory that I didn't read the label  - or even the beer's full name - until after I paid for it.   After the purchase I looked at the label and immediately rethought my impulsive, blind donation.

I don't like the words "saison" and "imperial" in the same sentence, let alone on the same label.  Throw in the words "smoked," "cherrywood," and "10.5% abv" and my skepticism grows exponentially.  Charity or not, the thought of a high alcohol, smoked saison seemed retch worthy.  My concerns were overblown, Stone's tribute to its employee was a drinkable, complex, multi-layered beer.  (Really, what was I worrying about, was Stone actually going to release a yak-beer as a tribute to an employee?)

Burning Rosids was a sweet saison.  It had a strong, pleasing smokey finish, with a touch of funk.  For me, the combination of the gentle smoke and sweet, floral cherrywood worked, producing an elegant complex beer.  Forget about any hop presence; hops weren't needed and not missed.  Burning Rosids was more nuanced than most beers labeled imperial, and its subtle, tangy sourness seemed to unite all the flavors.

I've had two Burning Rosids, one on its initial release, and the second about six weeks later.  I found the alcohol discrete in the first bottle, and distractingly prominent in the second.   I guess the heat in the second bottle was not unexpected in a 10.5% abv beer, but I preferred the smaller alcohol profile.  I found Burning Rosids improved when I drank it with food.

I have written before that saison is the most constraint free style of beer.  This fits Burning Rosids, because while I enjoyed this beer I never would have guessed it a saison.  Buy this beer for its sad origin and charity, enjoy it for its sweet, funky complexity. 

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