Beer: Futures 10 Brewery: Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. Style: Saison ABV: 6.5 percent
Musicians and brewers commonly collaborate. Sometimes the beers that come from such unions are actually pretty good (New Belgium Clutch, brewed for the metal band Clutch; Cigar City Killsner, made for monster-rockers GWAR). Sometimes, like the musicians themselves, they're bland and obvious (as with the bottled lagers produced by Kid Rock, Motorhead and KISS). Sometimes they remind you of bands you forgot existed (anyone remember Hanson's beer, MmmHops? Anyone remember Hanson?).
But sometimes the beers perfectly capture the ethos of both brewery and band. So it seems to be with Futures 10, a synergistic saison brewed by Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. and Jimmy Eat World. AZ Wilderness, located in Gilbert, is rabidly dedicated to the use of local ingredients; Jimmy Eat World, formed in Mesa in 1993, can be considered a local ingredient themselves. The two groups met several months ago to brew a special beer that accomplishes several goals.
First, it celebrates the release Jimmy Eat World's newest album, Futures 10, which is actually the tenth-anniversary edition of the band's fifth album, Futures. Second, it highlights Arizona and the state's agriculture by showcasing 10 indigenous ingredients. Lastly, it benefits the community -- sales of the beer will be donated to the Arizona chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, and to Little Kids Rock, a foundation that supports kids' access to quality music education.
Saison was chosen as the base style for the brew, and it's an exceedingly appropriate selection -- the French/Belgian beer was historically brewed in farmhouses with ingredients grown in the fields nearby. It's also a rather complex ale that can support the addition of odd adjuncts. In Futures 10, those additives are:
- prickly pear fruit picked on land owned by Siphon Draw Apothecary
- chamomile, which can grow wild in Arizona and was picked from a friend's back yard
- sun-dried salt, straight from a Glendale salt mine to your glass
- Queen Creek Mesquite Honey from The Bee Dudes
- bay leaves from Agritopia farms
- Purple Barley from Sossaman Farms
- Blue Beard Barley from Sossaman Farms
- Sonoran White Wheat from Sossaman Farms
- Emmer (Farro) Wheat from Sossaman Farms
- Red Fife Wheat from Sossaman Farms
By their powers combined, we get Futures 10 Saison. Properly poured in a tulip glass, the beer boasts its addition of prickly pears with a flourish of cloudy mauve. A thin, soap-bubbly head gives off a beguiling aroma that's at once sweet, herbal and peppery. Chamomile and bay leaves are most prominent, while earthy prickly pear and peppercorns back both up. I can't decide if it smells more like soup or a saison or chamomile tea, and I'd call it sensory overload if the aroma wasn't so balanced, so smoothly delivered. I could honestly smell it all night.
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But drink we must, and we'll find the flavor has more of a vegetal character, speckled with pepper and enhanced with savory bay. The most noticeable addition here, however, is the salt -- it hangs on the sides of the tongue, lending a soft salinity while enhancing the herbal and earthy qualities of the other additives.
As a whole, the Futures 10 is savory, herbal, enticing, collaborative, charitable and -- dammit -- pretty. It's available at Arizona Wilderness for a limited time, so go get some soon. It's very Arizona.