Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Point - Whole Hog Raspberry Saison

June is almost over and so is my almost perfect adherence to drinking local beers.  This review's beer comes from Wisconsin.  Those of you who have been paying attention know that I currently dwell in Illinois.  However, I was born in Wisconsin and lived there for many years so I feel I get a pass on this one.  This is part of Point's "Whole Hog" series.  When I first saw it I thought that, per the name, it would be for a bacon beer(!), but upon closer inspection I realized it was simply a limited release of various styles.  Not that a limited release is a bad thing, but it cowers a bit to the excitement over the potential for bacon beer.  Have I blathered on enough yet?  Good.  Let's pour!

Picture is my own.  Bottle art image used without permission for educational uses only.
Aroma 10/12
There are some great sniffs on this one!  It, of course, starts out with the raspberry esters that also add a light acidic note to the brew.  The acidity is good to have in there as it is true to the fruit and indicates natural ingredients.  Some floral notes come in later to compliment the raspberries.  As the head fizzles away, there are spicy Belgian yeast notes as well as light caramel aromas.  The banana aromas from the yeast become apparent as the beer warms and is odd that it appears almost separate from the spice.  There could be a hop citrus in there as well, but I could very well be confusing the tartness of the raspberries.

Appearance 1/3
A hazy Belgian pale orange fills the glass.  The white head is small, dissipates quickly, and leaves no lacing.  A somewhat smaller head is to be expected when brewing with acidic fruits, but even with that consideration this seems small and brief.

Picture is my own.
Flavor 16/20
This beer does not pull any punches in its beginning!  You are almost instantly hit by a bready, caramelly, spicy pile of banana-y goodness.  The malt is present with a strong bready note, but this disappears almost completely by the time the backbone fades in.  One would expect the backbone to consist strongly of raspberries and maybe even be a bit acidic given the nose of this beer.  You would be wrong.  Where are the raspberries?  Make no mistake, the beer that is present is full of caramel and Belgian yeast flavors of pepper and bananas - it is darn tasty.  I just expected a raspberry beer to taste like raspberries.  Call me crazy.  The finish is darkly sweet from its caramel and very smooth.  It also shows a hint of the warmth that his brew has previously held a very close secret (7.2% ABV).  The aftertaste is also appropriate for the style, being mostly clean despite the sweet/peppery backbone, but with a light hop bitter to keep things refreshing and mouth-watering.

Mouthfeel 4/5
Medium-heavy body with plenty of creaminess and carbonation that starts out adequate, but fizzles out completely before the end of the pint.  Very little warmth is shown despite is relatively high ABV.

Overall Impression 6/10
This is a very tasty and stylistically accurate saison:  Belgian yeast, low to moderate malt presence (caramel), spicy, creamy, and it even gave us some unexpected warmth.  All very nice.  Unfortunately, the aroma was the only place the raspberries made themselves known.  The lack of head and raspberries are the major areas of concern with this beer.  Thankfully the rest of the beer is strong enough to carry it.

Total 38/50
If this was JUST a Belgian I would have given it a higher rating in flavor.  However, the raspberries were absent from everything except the aroma!  I want to rate it higher because it is darn tasty, but how can you make a raspberry beer that doesn't taste like raspberries.  Aren't there sensory people for exactly that task?  For the saison style, it is pretty darn close to the mark, but that is not what I was promised by this bottle.  I was hoping for something a bit more crisp and refreshing (hence the raspberries).  Overall, I would buy this again, but for the saison style and NOT the raspberries.

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