Saison du Buff three ways

You may have seen Saison du Buff trickling through the market over the last few months, and if you weren’t around for its inaugural release in 2010, the fact that Dogfish Head, Victory and Stone each put out a version may seem confusing. Don’t be confused: The three breweries collaborated on the recipe (a saison with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme; aka Simon and Garfunkel beer), then each brewed the beer independently. With the final wave from Stone now on shelves, we decided to compare our notes and see how similar the beers tasted. Turns out, not that similar!

The fact that each beer varies slightly isn’t that surprising: This isn’t cookie cutter work. Without a doubt, each beer delivers on its promise of herbal scents and flavors, especially Dogfish Head’s version. Imagine laying down in an herb garden—that’s pretty much what this beer evokes. Tons of sage and rosemary hit the nose (slightly minty) while more herbs run over the tongue—a hint of sweet bubblegum connects nicely with the rosemary.

Those herbal notes are less pronounced in Victory’s version, which offers bright lemon to enliven its more vague herbal essences. If I had to pick one of the garden additions as the most pronounced, it would definitely be rosemary, which swells in the back with each sip.

Similarly, Stone delivers the hops, creating a version that I think is the most balanced out of the three. Both in aroma and flavor, sturdy, tart pink grapefruit really checks the darker herbal notes, which ultimately combine for quite the delicious pairing.

In an industry that emphasizes identity through flavor, it’s cool to see how each brewery injects a bit of its own spirit into the bottle. Which one do you identify with the most?

Posted on Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012