Beer Review: New Belgium French Oak Saison

Photo by Kevin Gibson
Photo by Kevin Gibson

New Belgium Brewing Company is home to one of the largest barrel cellars in the U.S., according to Beer Street Journal. Coming from that cellar are tasty concoctions like La Folie and the recently-dropped French Oak Saison.

Aged in French-oak foeders for 15 to 18 months and then bottle conditioned, the beer pays tribute to aging methods native to the Flanders region of Belgium. The time and effort put into the beer certainly pays off in its quality.

It pours a hazy golden color with plenty of foamy white head, and immediately the notes of fruit begin emanating from it. The tropical tones overtake all else, and it is almost reminiscent of a white wine or even a dry cider.

The flavor echoes the aroma with a dry, crisp body and notes of lemon, melon and grape. There might even be a hint of apple in the flavor profile. The oak is secondary, adding just enough balance to the sweetness. There’s also just a bit of peppery spice as well that only adds to the pucker in the tartness of the beer.

The astringency doesn’t let up either, which leaves you with a fresh, clean feeling on the palate. Rye and spelt are the grains at work, while the surprising character added by Huell Melon and Tettnang hops sets this one apart – New Belgium pulled uniqueness out of this one, which it notes is inspired by Wallonia-style traditions.

Personally, farmhouse ales such as this one have been hit or miss with my palate, but when I find one that is done this well, it’s tough to resist. This one comes in at 7.5 percent ABV, as an added bonus, so while it packs a bit of a kick, it’s not so much so that you can’t sip this one for a while on a sunny spring day.

The beer is a limited release only available on draft and in 22-ounce bottles, so get it while you can. It won’t stay on shelves long.