Sunday, 11 January 2015

The 2-4 Beers of Christmas: Day 22 and 23: White and Red Session

Beer # 186 White Session

Beer # 187 Red Session

Collaboration with "The Local 7*

Sweetgrass Brewing Company
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Barrel Aged, Flavoured Belgian Saison 7.5% 
ABV Brown Glass Bottle 750 ml.
$19.95  (for both)(Canadian) At the LCBO

Twitter: @SweetgrassBeer

 If you are a regular follower of my blog you will remember I spent the day in Toronto for OCB Week this past June.The Ontario Craft Brewers Week is a celebration of some of the most dazzling brewers in our province. It begins each Father's Day weekend (well... Dads like beer...) with The Session Toronto. I was hoping to make it down for this one but work schedules intervened and I went slightly later in the week. Session is sort of like fight club for brewers... There is only one rule... there are no rules. And you SHOULD talk about Session... So it's not like Fight Club... but somehow I wanted to use that analogy. Brewers are encouraged to bring out the inner artist and paint a pallete of beer. (Ok that's a slightly better analogy). Brewers try to "One Up" each other in a friendly (hehe check out what I did) kind of way. Sweetgrass Brewery and the so called "Local 7" a group of craft beer bars that included The Only Cafe, The Griffin Gastropub, Bar Volo, Wvrst, C'est What, The Auld Spot, Barhop, and Bryden's (kind of like the Group of 7 But Craft Beer Bars... instead of painters) all collaborated on a brew... or two. The result was a Lemon Verbena, and Raspberry flavoured Belgian Saison, that was split into two batches, and one was aged in chardonnay barrels (White), and one Cabernet Sauvignon Barrels (Red). Each was aged for ten months and the result was released in December of 2014 to the LCBO. Sadly, I have been sitting on these bottles because of my cold... I was hoping to get this post out sooner. I am quite certain that all of the bottles of these are gone. So if you didn't get to try these beers... sorry... email or twitter @sweetgrassbeer and maybe they will make more (if we are really, really good...)

Well I have a Litre and a half of beer on my desk... Onto the tasting...


Colour is a slightly hazy clear gold with a bright white head made of small bubbles. Aroma is woody and grapey. Definitely a white wine nose. Hints of green floral citrus from the lemon verbena. Oaky vanilla and light caramel. First sip gives us a lot of chardonnay qualities, grapey, oaky and citrus. Hints of malo-lactic fermentation, creamy, buttery, vanilla and caramel. The elements of the Belgian style saison are deep within, under the chardonnay window dressing. Aeration brings out the beer, a bready, citrus clean Belgian saison.


Colour is almost Identical to the white in every way, except that I would say this is slightly lighter in colour. (Strangely).  Nose is very mossy, woody, like a autumn walk through the woods. Oaky, smoky, and dark red wine. First sip is very oaky, and sweet, lots of caramel and vanilla. Tastes not unlike a heavily oaked chardonnay more than a Cabernet sauvignon. Slightly more effervescent than it's white counterpart. Fresh cut oak overwhelms the beer a bit. Aeration gives us sweet smoky oak, some breadiness, a touch more caramel and a lingering vanilla.

Impressions: Fail, So-so, Pass, Exceptional 

White                                       Red 

Cost: 5/6 PASS                           Cost: 5/6 PASS
Colour: 5/6 PASS                        Colour: 5/6 PASS
Beer Style: 6/6 EXCEPTIONAL     Beer Style: 6/6 EXCEPTIONAL
Re-Order:  6/6 EXCEPTIONAL      Re-Order:  6/6 EXCEPTIONAL
Experience:  6/6 EXCEPTIONAL   Experience:  6/6 EXCEPTIONAL
Christmas Spirit 5/6 PASS           Christmas Spirit 5/6 PASS

Final Thoughts:

Two most excellent beers and two excellent examples of how a barrel can change the way a beverage tastes. So much happens inside those little wooden envelopes... so much so that scientists haven't even figured out all of the processes, and chemical interactions. It is one area though where we don't need TOO much science... just let your tongue be the experimenter. Enjoy the reaction of all the woody elements that lend so much to these beers.

Cheers And Beery Christmas


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