Sunday, April 3, 2011

Review: Great Divide Colette

The saison is a beautiful thing. Dry, crisp, light, bubbly, flavorful — this traditional Belgian style is the true Champagne of beers (apologies to Miller High Life).

Up till now, however, drinking saison was an expensive proposition. You could get a bottle of Saison Dupont or, my personal favorite, Ommegang Hennepin, but you'd pay something like $10-$12 for a 22-ounce bottle (or the slightly larger 750 ml Champagne-style bottles).

Great Divide Brewing Co. has upended this situation with a game-changer: a truly tasty saison bottled in a six-pack.

Colette just showed up on liquor-store shelves in Durango, packaged in regular 12-ounce brown bottles. It has enjoyed a well-laureled young life, winning a silver medal at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival.

Colette is brewed with barley, wheat and rice and fermented at high temperature with four yeast strains. Like most saisons, it's relatively boozy at 7.3 percent ABV.

It pours a straw yellow, with a healthy, frothy white head of foam that quickly recedes against the strong alcohol content. A tip: when pouring Colette, maybe leave a little bit in the bottle, as mine had a thick layer of yeast gunk on the bottom. Or don't; it's a free country. (And it wasn't due to age — my Colette was bottled on March 3 and poured on April 2).

A wonderful, earthy aroma introduces a dry funk on the palate. The wheat and rice — arguably nontraditional ingredients for this style — are actually nice additions, rounding out and strengthening the flavor. The carbonation pops.

Saisons are not usually hoppy, and Colette follows suit, with very mild hopping laying down a backbeat while the yeast solos up front.

Saisons are just a great summer style, light but very flavorful. Colette is a seasonal release, April through July.

A brewer friend of mine not long ago bitched about how trendy saisons have become. I fail to see the problem.

Colette costs about $9 for a six-pack of 12-ounce bottles. That's 12.5 cents per ounce. Compare that to $10 for a bomber, which comes out to 45 cents per ounce.

Great Divide has made drinking saison much more affordable. Colette is a fantastically tasty beer. You should buy it and drink it. A


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