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Saison du Buff three ways

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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?

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One Comment

  • Chris Jacobsen says:

    As stated, all three of these beers are similar but with their own stand alone differences. They all are well spiced, light, and refreshing. One of the things to really take into consideration here is the type of ingredients used.

    In 2010 when this trio first released this creation, they all used the dry version of the spices. A lot of beer patrons that I know personally thought that the end result was almost like that of drinking a spice rack. This time around, both Victory and Dogfish Head used some dried versions of the spices, but Stone used all fresh spice ingredients that were picked from the brewery-owned farm just 9 miles from the Escondido, CA facility. Because of the freshness, the spices weren’t as potent as they would be if they were dried out. The weight by volume is different with fresh produce than it is with dried produce (which is also true with hops) and the flavor profile will be different since the plant is still hydrated. Once Stone added the abundance of hops that they are known for, the bitterness helped cut through the spice and the flavor became even and well distributed, and not so heavy on the spice.

    Not one that you would think to age, but time does change this beer quite a bit. I just recently sat down with the 2010 and 2012 releases of the Stone version. The spice in the 2010 release has mellowed a bit and doesn’t come across as aggressive as it did fresh. It is actually closer in profile to the 2012 release, and is more evenly blended.

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