Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Saisons — Firestone Walker Brewing vs. Stone Brewing

Firestone Opal
(Dry Hopped Saison)
ABV 7.5% 

Stone Brewing
ABV 6%

First of all we must apologize for the extended blog silence. Last month we moved to a new home and transitioned to being open 7 days a week at our bakery. Much beer was drunk but we hadn't the time or energy to conduct a proper Bottle Battle. Now that things appear to be stabilizing we will attempt to get back to our semi-regular battles.

For our first official battle at our new home we chose one of our favorite styles of beer: Saison. It's an all California Saison showdown. Let's get it on! Beers were tasted blind.

Beer #1 (Firestone Opal) was a clear, straw yellow with a constant stream of bubbles from the bottom of the glass. The aroma brought Belgian yeast, spices, bubble gum and tropical fruit. The flavor was complex, featuring a mild sweetness with bright citrus notes and some underlying spice. The finish was mild and almost savory with just a hint of bitterness.

Beer #2 (Stone Saison) was a hazy golden and also had a constant stream of bubbles rising from the bottom. The aroma featured a big funky, barnyard component with lots of herbal and spice notes (especially cardamom). The flavor was very herbal and spicy with a mildly bitter finish followed by more spice.

Both of these beers are good but ultimately we chose the Opal mostly because it had a finesse and complexity that was unique and extremely tasty. The big spice characteristics of the Stone saison just seemed to be clumsy and heavy-handed in comparison to the Opal.

This battle also provided us with more reason to believe that Firestone Walker is one of the best breweries in the US. They make an amazing array of superb beers that range from subtle and refined like the Opal to beautiful, barrel-aged behemoths like Parabola, Sucaba and their anniversary beers. They are often kind of spendy, but every one we've ever tried has been well worth the money.  

Unanimous decision: Firestone Walker Opal