There are not many Cucumber beers on the market these days,1 but in 2011, Cigar City released one for the first time as a summer seasonal.
As the name implies, Cucumber Saison is a 4.5 percent ABV saison that is brewed with cucumber essence as well as citra and sorachi ace hops. Available every year starting in June, is one of 11 different seasonal releases for the Tampa, Fl.-based brewery, along with Puppy’s Breath porter (6.5 percent) in February, Patio Pils “Pre-Prohibition Pilsner” (6 percent ABV) in July, Marshal Zhukov’s Russian imperial stout (11 percent ABV) in August, Good Gourd imperial pumpkin ale (8.5 percent ABV) in August, Oktoberfest (5.5 percent ABV) in August, Big Sound Scotch ale (8.5 percent ABV) in February, José Martí porter (8 percent ABV) in October, Bolita “Double Nut Brown Ale” (9 percent ABV), Sugar Plum brown ale (5 percent ABV) in November, and Winter Warmer (9 percent ABV), also in November.
The Cigar City website sheds some more light on the beer:
The humble gherkin. Usually we encounter this unassuming green fruit pickled or sliced and flung atop a salad. But the cucumber has so much more to offer us. It is a remarkably refreshing gourd with the power to cool a dry tongue and when just two sliced wheels are placed atop the eyes of a lounging lass in a stock photo ad for a spa the mystical cucumber has the magical ability to justify obscene spa service fees. Truly an amazing botanical gift to the world! We chose to employ the cucumber in a low gravity Saison to create a refreshing seasonal ale redolent with notes of honey, tropical fruit, lemon bitterness and of course cucumber.
The Cigar City Cucumber Saison pours a clear,2 light golden brown with a huge two finger head that takes its time dissipating, eventually leaving a dull white covering over the entire top of the beer. There is plenty of carbonation evident, and aroma from the glass is a combination of strong wheat, sweet marzipan, barnyard funk and more than a little fresh cucumber.
The Cucumber Saison starts off with a fairly easy profile: wheat, earth and grass, along with a touch of generic sweetness. In addition, there is a cucumber note that is very evident on the palate, but it explodes on the finish, where it lingers. That creamy cucumber note also combines with an interesting black pepper note that reminds me strongly of a snack I used to eat as a child: fresh cucumber topped with salt and black pepper. The flavor is quite distinct, and thankfully is also very genuine. As excepted, the carbonation is very strong, almost champagne-like in its effervescence, which actually adds to the enjoyment of this particular beer.
As it warms, the carbonation retains the vast majority of its strength, while the cucumber note becomes even more dominating on both the palate and the finish. The sweetness has increased as well, now distinct enough to remind me of bananas, while the pepper flavor that was present on the finish before has fallen off dramatically.