Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Winter / Summer

I had two beers over the past week that were complete opposites - one a cold weather complement and the second tasted like summer.  Different as they were, both were excellent.  As its name declares, Stone's Winter Harvest Golden Ale is a winter beer.  Golden Ale in its name belies its heft and Winter Harvest weighs in at a staggering 11% abv.  Each drink delivers silk encased heat.  Winter Harvest was aged for nearly two years in Pinot Noir barrels, and along with the booze, you taste the tart influence of the time spent in the wine barrels.  Winter Harvest, outside of its complexity, is unlike other Belgian golden strong ales I have tried.  I could write a whole post on the variances of golden ales, so it is best not to get dogmatic on convention and focus instead on the beer not the brewer's attention to style guidelines.  From this perspective, Winter Harvest is a sophisticated, delicious beer, and despite its strength the 500 ml bottle seemed too small.  I bought two Winter Harvest bottles and plan to store the second bottle for at least a year.

A few days after my winter adventure I drank some liquid sunshine.  Purchased at the source last summer in London, Partizan Brewery's Saison Lemongrass Grisette was as light and carefree as Winter Harvest was serious and complex.  Lemongrass was, of course, full of citrus, but it had a nice floral flavor, too, to go along with its mellow Belgian yeast.   It was crisp and bright, with a refreshing, intense effervescence.  Lemongrass was delight on the palate.  Sharing a 33 cl bottle (about 11 ounces) made me wish I had brought back more of this saison gem.  

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