I am a big advocate for more variety in barrel aged beers. We have plenty of bourbon barrel aged stouts, I want to see more combinations of traditional (or less traditional) beer styles aged in barrels that used to hold various types of wine or spirits. One group of beers that are under-utilized in barrel rooms are the non-sour Belgian styles, dubbels, tripels, quads, saisons and Belgian style pale and dark ales. The expressive flavors imparted by the Belgian yeast strains can be complemented by a number of different types of booze. A number of local brewers seem to agree, you are starting to see more barrel aged Belgian style beers pop up on shelves. Locally, many of these creative takes come out of the barrel aging collaboration between Cambridge Brewing Company and Mystic Brewing. Mystic makes a wide range of beers now, but the majority of their initial offerings were saisons. They have brewed saisons with a wide range of malt and hop profiles, so it makes sense that they would be interested in aging some of these beers to impart flavors that complement their expressive and diverse house yeast strains. One example I sampled recently is a saison aged in sauvignon blanc barrels. Appropriately named, Mystic Sauvignon Blanc Barrel Saison is available on a rotating basis in 750 mL bottles.
Mystic Sauvignon Blanc Barrel Aged Saison pours a clear copper with a solid white head. The aroma is a mixture of fruity wine and spicy Belgian style yeast. The flavor is complex, but the flavors added by the barrel aging definitely take center stage. The wine adds notes of white grape, melon and flowers while there is also a strong woodsy/vanilla flavor imparted from the barrel itself. The Belgian style yeast contributes touches of apple, pepper and pear. The flavor is rounded out by some grassy hops and hints of biscuits and honey from the malts. Sauvignon Blanc Barrel Aged Saison is medium bodied and drinks smooth but packs a little punch at 7.5% ABV. The finish is dry with a lingering complex mixture of flavors in the aftertaste. I love the idea of aging saisons in wine barrels, and sauvignon blanc seems like an appropriate varietal. The flavors imparted by the barrel itself were just a little too strong for my taste, still a good beer but aside from that it could have been great. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Mystic Reviews:
Mystic Vinland 4, Mystic De Varenne, Mystic India Wharf Pale Ale, BREWERY OVERVIEW, Mystic Flor Z, Mystic Melissa, Mystic Descendant, Mystic Vinland Three, Mystic Brewery visit and Day of Doom, Mystic Hazy Jane, Mystic Mary of the Gael, Mystic Vinland Two, Mystic Table Beer