Sunday, May 02, 2010

Final analysis: Piper at the Gates Saison (Gluten-Free)

So roughly five months after brewing my gluten-free Piper at the Gates Saison for my buddy Pete (who happens to be gluten-intolerant), I finally got the damn beer to him! Seemed like an appropriate time to review it as well...

Style: Saison/Sorghum beer. Orig. gravity: 1061. Final gravity: 1014 (est.).
ABV: 6.1%. IBU's: 29.

Appearance: Very frothy, very ample ivory head (as you can see above); persistent at first but dissipating after a few minutes. Appears a cloudy apricot color.

Smell: Very sweet and cider-like. Tart apple and (maybe because it's in my head) apricot, along with an earthy, yeasty background. Slightly estery and spicy once you get past the cider notes.

Taste: Surprisingly bitter up front, with the spiciness coming through right behind it. No real cider-like notes to speak of, despite the aroma. In fact, the flavor is rather dry. You get some nice, herbal hop flavors towards the finish along with some more spices (pepper and coriander) and some yeast bite. There's also a slight soap-like note that I also pick up in some of New Belgium's beers (maybe it's a Belgian yeast thing?). The finish is dry with the orange peel really coming through in the finish. [EDIT: After typing up this review and re-reading my brew day notes I discovered that I forgot the orange peel while brewing. As such, I'm not sure where the orange flavor is coming from but it's there!]

Mouthfeel: This one really has a beer-like body to it. It's quite effervescent, and the bubbles seem a little bigger than in a real (i.e. not gluten-free) beer. Beyond that, however, it doesn't really come off as thin at all.

Overall: This may be my most beer-like gluten-free project to date. Really, the only thing that tips you off to the fact that it's not malt-based is the cider note in the aroma. The heading powder appears to have been perfect for the lack of head issues (though I still have one bottle that was sans powder so I can do a side-by-side comparison). I'd like to taste this along side a Hennepin, but initially my two thoughts are that the hops need to get knocked down a tad and I could bump up the spices a bit (perhaps add the spices I forgot in the brew day?). I'm curious to hear what Pete thinks, though I hope the assertive hops at least make this stand out from the relatively flavorless commercial offerings out there.


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