The Beer: Funkwerks Saison
The Brewery: Funkwerks is a Belgian-inspired brewery located in Ft. Collins, Colorado. The brewery specializes in Belgian-style beers brewed by Head Brewer Gordon Schuck.
The Stats: 6.8% ABV. This beer was a Great American Beer Festival Award Winner in both 2011 (Silver) and 2012 (Gold) in the French & Belgian Saison Category.
The History: The saison-style originates from Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium where this beer used to be brewed late in the cold months to be enjoyed in the summer. It needed to be strong enough to sustain itself in the warmer months, while still being considered a refreshing, thirst quenching beverage. Saison Dupont Vieille Provision is considered the hallmark of the style, and it has more of the "farmhouse funk" associated with saisons — at least, compared with the cleaner versions like the Funkwerks brew.
Appearance & Aromatics: Ultra-small, white bubbles sit persistently atop the hazy, burnished orange-colored beer. A complex aroma blends pilsner malt sweetness with tangerine and lemon rind citrus notes, floral hops, and light black pepper notes. All aromas are balanced and subtle, with nothing dominating or standing out. As the beer warms, additional fruity pear notes begin to appear. The Noble-type hops, which typically grow in the German and Czech regions, provide both a floral and light spiciness to the aroma of the beer while the black pepper character comes exclusively from the yeast.
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Flavor & Mouthfeel: One sip in and refreshing flavors of lemon rind and pilsner malt sweetness balance with pleasant alcohol warmth, supported by black pepper — the aromatics translate seamlessly into the flavor. This saison is extremely attenuated (fully fermented), leaving very little residual sugar behind and just enough flavor to be light and incredibly refreshing. Very high carbonation makes the white head seem eternal, while leaving beautiful Belgian lacing on the glass. (Belgian lacing is the rings of foam left behind on the inside of the glass as the beer is consumed). The beer has a slight, yet very pleasant farmhouse character, lending complexity to the beer without being a distraction. This is a difficult characteristic to recreate outside of the farmhouses of France and Belgium and Funkwerks does an exquisite job of pulling it off.
Pairings: The beer's finish is clean and dry, making it an effective palate cleanser and a wonderful companion for many lightly-prepared foods such as baked fish, chicken piccata, or shrimp with angel hair pasta bathed in olive oil.
Saison is the French word for "season," but this beer is available year round and is best served in a snifter glass to capture the wonderful aroma. We recently had this beer at Pedal Haus Brewery in Tempe, but four packs and 750ml bottles can be found at most craft beer stores throughout the state. Learn more about this beer by going to Funkwerks website.