There’s plenty of reason to be excited about new local beers in 2017. One Barrel Brewing will be one of the first to debut a new bottled beer in 2017 with Tiny Giant Saison.
What is it? Tiny Giant from One Barrel Brewing.
Style: Saisons are sometimes referred to as rustic farmhouse ales because they emerged from farmstead breweries and were served to field hands in the French-speaking area of Belgium known as Wallonia. The modern saison is hard to classify. They can be found in a range of colors from light hazy straw to a dark copper-amber. They are generally light-to medium-bodied with lots of carbonation and dryness from the strain of yeast used to make them. Saisons range from 4.5 to 8.5 percent ABV. Among well-known saisons are those imported from Brasserie Dupont of Belgium. There are also local versions from Door County Brewing.
Background: The beer is made with two-row brewer’s malt and a touch of flaked corn. Flaked corn boosts the alcoholic strength of a beer without adding body or mouthfeel. A saison yeast is used for fermentation. It offers some of the grassy, floral and citrus tones to the aroma and flavor profile that are welcome in the style. The beer showcases Warrior hops for bitterness and Citra in dry-hopping. That combination adds hints of grapefruit and lemon. While there isn’t the hoppy punch of an IPA, its hop character is enough to make it a distinctive saison.
Tiny Giant is being rolled out now on tap in the Atwood Avenue brewpub. The draught release is intended to create some buzz ahead of the 12-ounce bottles that should be out by early February. One Barrel owner Peter Gentry keeps a constantly rotating group of 10-12 beers on tap at his brewpub. When a beer develops a following, as this saison did, he elevates it to bottled production, which occurs under contract with Octopi Brewing of Waunakee.
Brewer Matt Gerdts joined One Barrel about nine months ago. This is the second beer that he’s ramped up to six-packs with the help of Octopi. Tiny Giant grew out of Gerdts’ homebrewing experiences, and a version of the beer that he called Fairy Tale Ale. Gerdts took that beer and refined the recipe to make Tiny Giant. Regulars of the brewpub may recognize this beer as it was originally introduced under the name “Something Good.” With the beer’s bottle release, Gentry and Gerdts felt that the name Tiny Giant was a better description of the beer’s light saison body coupled with big bold flavor.
Tiny Giant finishes at 6.1 percent ABV and an estimated 55 IBUs. It sells over the bar at One Barrel Brewing for $5/goblet. Beginning in February it will be available in six-packs for around $9.
- Aroma: A light yeastiness with hints of grassy lemon.
- Appearance: Filtered and clear, yellow golden. A thick, soft, white head.
- Texture: Medium-bodied and bubbly.
- Taste: Earthy mustiness in the beginning with accents of crisp citrus and lemon hoppiness.
- Finish/Aftertaste: Crisp citrus, and dry.
Glassware: The tulip glass with its curved body will show off the bright clear golden color, while the flared lip allows the citrus and lemon aromas to hop out of the glass.
Pairs well with: Grilled meats. Its carbonation and sharp lemon citrus will cut through fatty nature of steaks like a ribeye, while the pepper spiciness of the yeast blends with the juices. Also a nice beer for mild, musty cheeses.
The Verdict: If you appreciate the saison style this is a beer you’ll want to try. It has an assertive grassy and lemon nose that pulls you in. Its rich flavor offers a blend of earthy spiciness, just what I like in a saison. However, it’s the crisp, sharp hoppiness that makes the beer stand out. I put this among my favorite Wisconsin examples of the style, and Tiny Giant has the potential to become more than just a seasonal offering for One Barrel.