Inviting saisons, with their crisp bubbly nature showcasing a range of fruity, earthy and yeasty flavors, bridge the gap between the malty brews of winter and summer's hoppy bitter beers.
What is it? Four Lakes Saison from Next Door Brewing.
Style: Saisons are associated with yeasty aroma and hints of malt. They have a spicy, fruity character, as well as balanced sour or acidic flavors. Brewers may add spices, which can include grains of paradise and black pepper. Saisons really don’t offer much hoppy character; if they are bitter it can be assertive. Saisons range from 4.5% to 8.5% ABV.
Background: Four Lakes is a new beer for Next Door. Brewmaster Bryan Kreiter says he considers the style an ideal summer beer because it is light and makes for a good session beer.
Four Lakes is an outgrowth of a recent collaboration Kreiter made with Karben4 head brewer Jeff Olson for this year’s Craft Beer Week. That beer — Soleil Saison — was such a hit with customers at both breweries that Kreiter wanted to add a saison to his regular summer lineup at Next Door.
At the heart of Four Lakes is Vienna and Munich malts, along with German Hersbrucker hops. The beer is fermented with Belgian Trappist yeast that lends earthy and fruity flavors and a hint of spicy dryness. Kreiter adds Belgian candi syrup to the brew kettle, which adds strength without adding body. This allows the beer to remain light and bubbly on the palate.
This saison finishes at 5.1% ABV. It’s available only at the brewpub, where it sells for $5 (pint), $13.50 growler (refill).
Aroma: Yeasty, with a hint of maltiness in the background.
Appearance: Hazy orange-golden color with a light tan head.
Texture: Light bodied and bubbly, crisp.
Taste: Yeasty, with a fruity sharpness and a faint dryness.
Finish/Aftertaste: Clean, crisp, light and fruity.
Glassware: Next Door serves most of its beers in the Willi Becher — a great glass to gently focus the aromas under the nose. However, the tulip glass is more suited for showing off the style's bright color, and the outward flare of the lip supports the bubbly head.
Pairs well with: Saisons are great with salads and light sandwiches.
Rating: Three Bottle Openers.
The Verdict: This is a light and refreshing beer. Like all good saisons, this one is all about the yeast. Four Lakes has a sharp fruity crispiness; it’s not as dry as one of the most famous of the style, Saison Dupont, but its yeasty, lemon aroma is very much what the style is about. It’s a light and bubbly beer, similar to its German cousin the hefewiezen. Four Lakes is a solid addition to Next Door’s overall beer menu.