Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Review: Ska Saison Du'Rango

Ska Brewing Co.'s Local Series has to be counted as one of the best things going in the Durango beer scene.

Several times a year, the boys in Bodo release a tasty, limited-run beer in 22-ounce bomber bottles for our enjoyment.

In the last few years, these Local Series beers have included a fresh-hop IPA, a pilsener and an oak-aged orange cream stout. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of rhyme or reason for the releases. Ska's brewers just brew what suits them, and release them when they can.

It's important for brewers to have chances to experiment. It would get boring if they were just brewing Pinstripe every day.

Which brings us to no. 15 in the Local Series, Saison Du'Rango. Ska Head Brewer Thomas Larsen made it for a saison festival put on by Jason Yester of Trinity Brewing in Colorado Springs.

It's plentiful in Durango, and according to Ska, limited quantities are available on the Front Range.

A traditional rustic Belgian style, saisons are distinguished by their yeast character, big, fluffy pours, light color and dry, crisp finishes. They're great for hot weather.

Saison Du'Rango is the second or third saison brewed in Durango, depending on whether you consider Durango Brewing's 20th Anniversary Ale to be a saison. Carver Brewing's Saison de Tour last summer was the first.

It comes in at 6.2 percent ABV and 19 IBUs, Larsen says. That's typical of the style. Saisons tend to be a little boozy but lightly hopped. The yeasts must be allowed to shine through without too much hop bitterness.

Notably, Larsen used two yeast strains: that of Saison Dupont - the classic of the style - and a French farmhouse yeast strain. A bit of lemon peel and some green peppercorns were added to the brew.

Saison Du'Rango pours a light amber color, perhaps a shade or two darker than is typical of the saisons I've had. A slight head tops the glass.

Ska's saison, like most, is refreshing. It's a great beer for washing down all sorts of food. The carbonation and fresh, grassy taste cleanse the palate.

It's slightly tart from the yeast. Green peppercorns and lemon peel contribute mellow flavoring to this saison.

Saison Du'Rango is quite good, but it stops short of being transcendent. The yeast character is more subdued than in other saisons I've tried.

As with all beers brewed with farmhouse yeasts, Saison Du'Rango can be expected to change over time. Within a few months, it may be significantly tarter than it is today. I look forward to seeing those yeasts do their thing. A-

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