Brooklyn Brewing Co., Sorachi Ace

Brooklyn Brewing Co.
Grade: A

I missed my chance to try this at ACBF this year, but luckily I found a single bottle recently. At $13 for a single caged and corked 750ml, I was a bit hesitant. Moreover, most American sasions I've had in the past have been a disappointment. However the notion of trying a new hop (Sorachi Ace) was too intriguing to be left alone. The hop itself was originated in Japan back in the 80's, but didn't catch on in popularity. Recently, Oregon has adopted the hop and it is now being produced again, albeit in very limited quantities. Brooklyn has been known to produce some very clean, dry, and style appropriate Belgian beers before (Brooklyner Weisse), so I decided to take a chance and dive into one of the latest of their Brewmaster series.

A hazy, lightly straw colored ale sits under a fluffy white head of foam that sticks around, but doesn't leave much lacing on the glass. There's a huge nose of citrus, lemon, peach, and grapefruit, along with a little bit of clove-like spice. Immediately you know that this is a saison. The carbonation level is fairly high, which is appropriate for this style. It tingles on the tongue, and seems to try and play against a more creamy mouthfeel than I was anticipating. An interesting contradiction. It finishes nicely dry, which usually is a problem with many American made saisons. The flavor is quite fruity, but in a very fresh kind of way. The esters are so clean here that it literally tastes like fresh fruit puree was added, although I know for sure it's simply the Belgian saison yeast character. My first impression is that it tastes much like a papaya juice from Papaya King, with a lot of seltzer added (hmm, that sounds like a damn good cocktail base...).

I don't know what the Sorachi Ace hops tastes like, and I'm having trouble identifying that specific hop character in this beer. I question the decision to make this beer a platform for displaying the Sorachi Ace hop. Saisons are usually defined by the robust yeast character, and I think this beer is no exception. Therefore I don't know if it's the fruity yeast esters I'm tasting, or if it's a character of the hop. It's a little confusing, so I went to the Brooklyn website to get some more info. They describe the flavor of the hop as "lemony." I completely agree, I certainly get a lemon-citrus flavor from this beer. But if I was just drinking this, with no other information, I wouldn't be able to tell you if that flavor was yeast or hop derived. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love this beer. It's a unique flavor profile while still remaining a "saison."

All in all, I wish I had gallons of this beer for consumption during the summer months. It's refreshing, light, fruity, and dry. At the same time however, the 7.8% ABV might be a little strong for a summer session beer. Perhaps Brooklyn will lower the ABV a little and release this beer in cans. I can't think of a more perfect beach drink than this. It certainly has inspired me to attempt to brew this myself, if I can only get a good source of those Sorachi Ace hops. But brewing saison is tricky, so I hope that Brooklyn decides to up production of this beer. Sometimes, it's better to leave it to the experts.