As I have mentioned in previous reviews saisons are one of my favorite styles of beer. To me the saison can represent such a wide range of flavors from hoppy to funky to sweet and even sour. But the one thing that most saisons have in common is that earthy yeast driven flavor that I can’t get enough of. Generally, when wandering the isles of my local bottle shop I tend to lean towards saisons that are finished with brettanomyces1 over offerings that are brewed with brewers yeast alone. I find that many of the “clean fermented”2 saisons tend to finish a little sweet and lack complexity. I am not saying this is always the case but just a very general observation that tends to guide my beer purchases. This preconceived notion led me to be a touch hesitant when penciling in today’s review.
Today’s review comes to me from Fort Worth, Texas3 in the form of The Collective Brewing Projects Tropic Thunder saison. The collective Brewing Project has a long and storied history dating back to November 2014.4 The brewery was opened just a few short months ago by long time friends Ryan Deyo and Mike Goldfuss. The pair started home brewing back in 2008 which quickly led to the dream of opening up a brewery like it does for most home brewers. Unlike most home brewers they actually did it. After a few years of planning and hard work the doors were opened to there Fort Worth watering hole.
One of the first beers to be poured in the brewery is the saison I have before me today. Tropic Thunder is Belgian style saison brewed with spelt malt and spalt hops. The twist that sets this saison apart from the rest is the fact that it was “dry hopped”5 with tropical green tea. This beer is not bottled at this time so it came to me in the form of a 32-ounce crowler.6
As I tip the giant can to fill my glass the first thing I notice is the hazy yellow color which has a definite green tint to it. I do not drink a lot of green tea but I did not expect it to have an actual greenish color. It pours with a fluffy white head that eventually fades to a halo of tiny bubbles. The green tea is noticeable in the nose along with hints of pear, yeasty bread dough, citrus and a slight grassy note. It definitely does not come off as overly sweet in any way.
My fears of this beer being under attenuated and sweet are immediately gone as I take the first sip. The beer is light, crisp and very refreshing. It has a very delicate flavor profile that works great with the green tea addition. Notes of pear and citrus come first with more of the classic Belgian yeast esters coming into play as I swirl the sip around for a few seconds. The green tea is the major player in this one but it is well done and does not over power the beer letting the base character of the saison shine through. It finishes much dryer than I had feared and the flavors linger for a while in the finish.