Starting a brewery is a major investment. Beyond great recipes and ingredients you need a place to brew, ferment, bottle/can/keg and store your beer. The costs associated with this process has led to an increase in contract brewing, where the brewery exists as a brand, but they pay to brew at an existing location. This means less investment for the contract brewer and the shared equipment is an extra source of income for the physical brewery. While most contract brewers make all of their beer at a single location, a few are “gypsy breweries”, that travel the country/world brewing beer. One popular gypsy brewery is Stillwater Artisinal Ales, based in Baltimore, MD. Stillwater brews many of their flagship beers in the US, but they also have a series of beers brewed in Belgium and a number of collaboration beers. One of Stillwater’s recent releases is Classique, a light and sessionable Belgian-style saison. Classique is available throughout the East Coast in 12 oz cans.
Stillwater Classique pours a pale gold, slightly cloudy with a massive white head. The smell is mostly Belgian yeast, fruity esters, spice and a little must. You get some mild hop scents mixed in as well. The taste also starts with the yeast, notes of apple, pear, clove and orange. The hops are noticeable, with some lemon and earthy flavors. There isn’t a ton of malt flavor, but you get a little spiciness that suggests some wheat and/or rye was added to the malt bill. The beer is light bodied and very easy to drink. At 4.5% ABV it is low in alcohol for a saison, nice and sessionable. The finish is clean with just a hint of fruit on the tongue. Overall Stillwater Classique is a no nonsense, easy to drink and flavorful saison, perfect for warm Spring and Summer days. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.