Our first Reserve release is a blended saison that we've called Imaginary Ale - this is how we imagine barrel aged farmhouse ales might have tasted in their heyday. In that sense, this is our tribute to the historical saison, and we intend to brew and blend many variations of this style as our Reserve program develops.
We brewed two beers in late 2016 that were eventually blended to create Imaginary Ale - the first was a straight up saison, similar to Primavera, our saison from last year; the second was Melancholy which used our own mixed culture of yeast and bacteria to create a complex and elegant sour beer.
Historically speaking, the saison style would generally have been consumed young, at which point it would have resembled the modern saisons that we know and love. Given any age, however, these beers would have continued fermenting under the influence of wild yeast and bacteria that would have eventually begun to turn the beer sour.
What we did was to blend our saison and our golden sour ale at a ratio of 4:1 in order to create something along the lines of an aged, or provision saison.
Of course, we haven't done this to prove some historical point - we've done it because the resulting beer is incredibly delicious!
Imaginary Ale is 4 parts saison, and 1 part Melancholy. The pH of the blend at bottling was around 3.7, which we'd describe as "just slightly tart" - certainly not "sour" by any definition.
Since the mixed culture of the sour component was only added at bottling, we expect the blend to increase in carbonation and acidity over time. Even considering that, we think bottles will improve with cellaring for at least 1-2 years.
This beer is highly carbonated, so we highly recommend refrigerating upright for at least 24 hours before opening.
When you do open it, you can expect bubbles to start forming in the neck of the bottle, and within 10-15 seconds, beer will attempt to escape! Don't be shy; open and begin pouring promptly and you'll have no trouble.
Our favourite glass for this style is a wine glass, and we recommend pouring vigorously to create a nice thick head (drinking through foam increases perception of a beer's aroma).
We got an over all fruity, tart, and earthy aroma. This included melon, lemon peel, and citrus blossom, as well as something earthier, like damp oak or forest floor. There was also a distinct minerally, almost flinty note.
The flavour leads with a zippy acidity, notes of white wine, lemon zest, and spicy oak. There is more earthiness in the mid palate, muddled with yeast aromatics. As it warms, further fruity flavours appear, including some stone fruits.
Carbonation is high and mouth filling. Body is light to medium, but with fluffy texture thanks to the oak tannins and high carbonation.
Finish is dry and slightly tart, with some yeast bite and hop bitterness lingering. Aftertaste is winey and very moreish.