One of my favorite non-traditional beer styles are saisons brewed with substantial additions of New World hops. Some traditionalists scoff at Belgian IPAs/hoppy saisons, but I find these complex and flavorful beers to be interesting and often delicious. Traditional Belgian saison yeast strains contribute a boutique of fruity flavors and aromas to the beer via byproducts in the fermentation process. These fruit flavors are a nice complement to the citrus and tropical fruit flavors and aromas that are characteristic of many popular new hop varieties. When the appropriate yeast strain is combined with a complementary mixture of hops the results can be outstanding. Trillium Brewing Company in Boston and Canton is probably best known for their IPAs and pale ales, but they have been brewing saisons from day one, including their flagship Trillium Farmhouse Ale. A newer addition to the Trillium lineup is Free Rise, a saison featuring locally source rye from Valley Malt. Free Rise is also available in a couple variants, each dry-hopped with a different hop variety. I recently found some 750 mL bottles of Citra dry hopped Free Rise (one of my favorite hops) and needed to give it a try.
Trillium Free Rise Dry-Hopped with Citra pours a hazy gold with a small off-white head. The scent is a mixture of citrusy hops and fruity Belgian style yeast. The flavors contributed by the hops and yeast really complement each other in this beer. The yeast adds notes of apple, pear and white grape and a dry finish. The hops contribute touches of orange, lemon, mango and grapefruit along with a crisp but soft bitterness. The beer is rounded out by some pale malt flavor, hints of whole wheat bread, a little spicy rye and crackers. Free Rise is light bodied and refreshing but packs a little punch at 7.3% ABV. This is a stellar beer, I enjoyed the standard version of Free Rise but the Citra dry hops add another level of delicious and aromatic complexity. A must try for any saison lover. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.
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