When people make grandiose statements about beer I usually take it all with a pinch of salt. In most of those cases I know a lot more about beer than they do, and I have significantly more experience. There are of course plenty of people whose opinions I do value, and they are the ones who do have the experience and the know-how. So when Bob Sylvester (Saint Somewhere) said to me that Zebulon is perhaps his favorite American brewery, then my radar goes up. Why? Because I’m smart. To quote Bob, “We all have our heroes. Some famous. Some unsung. Some somewhere in between. Mike is the best brewer I know. Definitely my hero.”
Having never had any Zebulon beers before, I made it my business to seek out a couple on a recent visit to meet with Bob. This was the first of them to be opened. The House Saison is an easy pick for me, one of my favorite styles, and a beer that I’ve been told Zebulon does magnificanrly.
16.9 oz, $10 for the Blue Ridge Beer Hub, Waynesville, NC. OG 1.052, FG 1.005, IBU 30
The appearance is exceptional. Head is resplendent, with ice-cream foam, great retention, and wonderful lace. Exceptional clear yellow body, fine, aggressive bubbles. Second pour with a little bottle conditioned yeast into the bargain, offers a contrasting hazed, lemon yellow body.
A champagne saison indeed. Bubbly and packed full of dry, Brett character that builds and offers bitterness and complex funk all the way through
Cheese, grape-must bitterness, and a finish that is dry, and to die for, round out the tastes.
There are a few beers brewed in the US that have the potential to compete with the best of Belgium, and this is an example of one. Citrus notes in amongst the funky base, and a never ending pleasure that sits on every taste-bud. It dips in and out of the bitter/funk pools and constantly entices.
Brilliant. brilliant beer. Utterly mesmerizing.