I'm sure you know this by now, but every year, the Boston Beer Company, makers of the Samuel Adams line of beers, holds a homebrew competition. There are three winners (usually), and those three lucky folks get to have their recipe produced commercially and distributed as part of the annual Longshot sampler. I make it a habit to seek this one out every year, and the beers are generally interesting even if some are inevitably better than others.
It took a while to find the 2010 Longshot sampler here in Georgia, but I finally did a few weeks ago. But where to begin? The three styles this year included a barleywine and an old ale (which can be quite similar actually) and a lemon pepper saison, all in a traditional six-pack carrier as opposed to the customary boxed package. I decided to pop the lightest brew first, and so here we are with a bottle of Longshot Lemon Pepper Saison in front of us.
Saison is also sometimes referred to as "farmhouse ale", and in fact was originally a homebrewed classic local style in the Wallonia area of Belgium. They speak French in Wallonia, and "saison" in French means "season", a reference to the art of laying the beer down for aging or "seasoning". Then too, saisons are also seasoned with spices. Today, there are a number of commercial examples of the style available, many of them in the high gravity range of alcohol content. Samuel Adams' Longshot Lemon Pepper Saison is a bit higher in alcohol than your average macrobrew itself, weighing in at 6.4% alcohol by volume.
From the label:
"Pale in appearance, this ale is light-bodied and effervescent with an interesting combination of both fruity and spicy flavors. The initial sweetness of vanilla and citrus notes from the fresh lemon peel is followed by the spiciness from the grains of paradise. The finish is slightly tart yet refreshing."
Samuel Adams Longshot Lemon Pepper Saison was concocted by Boston Beer employee Jeremy White of Massachusetts. Here's hoping he's a Patriots fan.
Longshot Lemon Pepper Saison pours to a light golden color with a medium spritzy head formation of loosely packed bubbles and a spicy, tangy citrus nose. The body is light with just a hint of caramel to back up the spices, which are really what this one is all about. I taste citric lemon and coriander up front, then the pepper comes through in the finish, adding a dash of, well, peppery flavor and bite. Otherwise the finish is tart and attenuated nicely by the spices and a hint of grassy bitter hops.
The first thing I'd like to have here would be a bit more yeasty funkiness. It's hard to think of this as a "saison" without that, but it's still not a bad quaffing beer accented nicely with spice. I like the pepper and lemon combination particularly. It was quite refreshing on a warm spring evening, and it served nicely to wash down fried chicken strips dipped alternately in hot chipotle and cool honey mustard sauces. With a side of pomme frites, of course.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.