My aim for this beer was two-fold: 1) make a decent attempt at imitating the style of the Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Honey Sage Seasonal, brewed as a tripel the first time I made it back in my previous home (it dried out really nicely over time and the sage was an excellent and refreshing complement) and 2) formulate a saison by mixing yeasts.
Well, the whole beer-yeast-then-wine-yeast idea doesn’t = saison yeast, unfortunately. Such is life. The 71B definitely did not dry this beer out, but it still is passable, though perhaps better thought of as a Belgian Golden Strong Ale. Likewise, the sage really makes almost no discernible impact here unless you’re looking for it. All around disappointing if you go off of expectations, but it doesn’t make it a bad beer. This tasting was done on 12/22/2012.
Appearance: Golden approaching amber, clear with a huge head that dissipates over 5 minutes or so.
Aroma: Honey! No way you can miss it, with a bit of vanilla sneaking in as well.
Taste: Booze and honey up front, then a maltiness that really lingers, and then you find some sage buried deep in the aftertaste. It’s not a delicate honey, either, it’s really quite blunt, actually.
Mouthfeel: Light bodied, carbonated nicely, but still a beer to sip because it’s not in any way subtle.
Overall: In my written notes for this, it says, “a good, drinkable braggot,” because the honey is so unsubtle. I used exactly the same amount as the BBS recipe calls for (3/4 cup) and used sugar for priming, so the honey shouldn’t be so dominant. Fact is, the honey here isn’t sourced by plant, it’s sourced exclusively by location, although occasionally I can ask the farmer I by it from what’s in season at the time (actually, I do have 500 g of mango and citrus honey sitting in my fridge, but it’s so good I’m loathe to brew with it). So I have no idea what kind of plants the generic “Miel de Villamontes” is lending to this, although given that Villamontes is right on the Chaco, it’s probably the kind of flavors you’d expect from struggling arid desert plants that fight to make it through a dry season. A bleak outlook means a harsh flavor? Maybe. Anyway, point is, I did want to reclassify this as a braggot, but when you revisit the recipe, it’s only 14% honey–half of what you’d really need to have to throw this into the braggot category.
The other note is the sage. It really ought to have been more noticeable and a nice a complement alongside the honey, but I doubt you’d catch it if it wasn’t in the name. I used a more parched/dried kind of sage I picked up at Los Pozos market, so it’s probably not the most flavorful. I did see fresh sage recently in Hipermaxi, though, so next time I attempt a version of the honey+sage combo, I’ll tone down the former (or maybe boil it to drive off some of the harshness) and use fresh sage instead.