This collaboration between Dogfish Head, Victory, and Stone is an odd one, a traditional saison turned on its head with heavy doses of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
Yes, you read that correctly.
And it tastes how it sounds.
The aroma is herbal, more akin to smelling food than drink. It's as if you opened the herb cabinet and stuck your head in. The rosemary and sage jump to the fore, and though it's not included, I get bits of oregano and a touch of mint. It's just a big, swirling mass of aroma.
Tip the glass to take a sip and you get a dose of WOW, a huge blast of herbs and spices that simply BEG to be paired with a meal. The herbs and spices are so up front that any of the Earthy, spicy qualities of a traditional saison are difficult to spot in the aroma and all but impossible to lift from the taste. This may be called a saison, but the reality is, it's an herb beer.
Do not, do NOT, drink this without a meal. Paired with food it's strangely delicious. The first time I had this beer I paired it with seasoned fish, potatoes,
and artichoke. This time I drank it while eating a few ears of corn on
the cob soaked in butter, which came after chipolte pork ribs and
perogies with onions. It paired wonderfully with the latter combo.
On its own, however, the beer is just too loaded down with herbs and spices to drink on its own. A few sips, sure, but not a whole bottle.
Saison du Buff is brewed and released separately by each of the three collaborating breweries, so expect slight differences in each release. Find out more about this beer at Dogfish Head's website.