I have made it pretty well know in this space that I love collaboration beers, it’s fun to see what happens when two or more talented brewers share their skills and ideas. I also think it is a great way for the brewers themselves to hone their craft, even the best brewer in the worldcan still learn new tricks and perspectives. The one downfall to collaboration beers (aside from the fact that most are one-off recipes, which sucks if the product is amazing), is that expectations can be sky high. It is easy to fall into the trap of “Brewery A is amazing and Brewery B is amazing so their collaboration beer must be twice as amazing!” Many of the best beers in the world took years of experimentation and fine tuning to achieve perfection, so it’s unlikely that a one-time experiment is going to find that level. Regardless, if I see a collaboration beer involving multiple brewers that I have enjoyed in the past there is a good chance that I’ll be sampling it. Recently I noticed a new saison brewed by three well respected leaders in the beer community, Victory, Stone and Dogfish Head. Apparently the idea for this beer was hatched in 2003 at a retail sampling in Boston, and a version was finally brewed and released this year. The beer is named Saison Du BUFF, where “BUFF” is an acronym for Brewers United for the Freedom of Flavor. Saison Du BUFF is brewed with fresh parsley, lemon thyme, sage and rosemary along with Centennial, Cascade and Citra hops. It is available on draft and in 12 oz. bottles for a limited time.
Victory/Stone/Dogfish Head Saison Du Buff pours a clear copper with a minimal white head. The scent is mostly from the Belgian style yeast, spicy and a little fruity. The yeast also leads the flavor, touches of pepper, apricot and coriander. The adjunct spices are present but subdued, I taste the thyme and rosemary but it’s very subtle. The beer has a solid malt body, notes of biscuit and crackers along with some citrusy and earthy hops that also crisp up the finish. Saison Du Buff is light and easy to drink, but packs a little punch at 6.8% ABV. In all this is a solid saison, complex but drinkable. I guess I am also guilty of unreasonable expectations when I see the heavy hitters listed on the label, but I enjoyed the beer. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
Previous Victory Reviews: Victory Moving Parts IPA #3, Victory Swing Saison, Victory Hop Ranch
Previous Stone Reviews: Stone Sublimely Self Righteous, Stone Enjoy By IPA, Stone Go To IPA
Previous Dogfish Head Reviews: Dogfish Head Sixty-One, Dogfish Head Burton Baton
Like many other beer drinkers on the East Coast I was introduced to hop-forward IPAs in part by Dogfish Head Brewing and their seminal 60 Minute (and 90 Minute) IPAs. That beer was one of my “wow” beers, the brews that changed my view on what beer can and should be. Hop-forward beers were my first true beer obsession, and these continually hopped IPAs were some of the finest examples on the local market at the time. While I still enjoy the occasional 60 Minute IPA, it is amazing how tame it seems compared to some of the hop-bomb beers featured by other breweries. Not that tame is a bad thing necessarily, I think many of these newer beers are overdone, while Dogfish Head manages to maintain relative balance in even their hoppiest offerings. If you do word association with most beer fans these IPAs would probably be the first Dogfish Head beers that come to mind, but head brewer Sam Calagione has always been at the forefront of many innovative trends in the brewing community. One of these trends is the use of non-traditional ingredients in beer, from various fruits to exotic grains to spices. Dogfish Head Sixty-One is one of their newest core-beers, and it mixes the addition of unconventional ingredients with the base of a continuously-hopped IPA. Dogfish Head was one of the first breweries to experiment with the addition of wine grapes to their beers, adding a complexity of flavor without overwhelming the base beer. Sixty-One is a perfect example, it combines the 60 Minute IPA recipe with the must of Syrah wine grapes. Dogfish Head Sixty-One is available year round on draft and in 12 oz. bottles.
Dogfish Head Sixty-One pours a purple-tinted orange with a mild white head. The scent is a subtle mixture of fruity wine grapes and floral hops. The taste starts with the hop flavor, cut grass, tangerine and some earthy notes. This is complemented by the fruity character of the Syrah grapes, hints of raspberry and plum. The bitterness is mild for an IPA, and balanced by touches of bread dough and cracker from the malty backbone. The beer is medium bodied and goes down smooth, with a middle-of-the-road (for an IPA) 6.5% ABV. The finish is crisp with some residual fruit flavor in the aftertaste. This is an interesting combination between the hoppier beer and the wine, worth a shot if you are both a beer and red wine fan. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
Previous Dogfish Head Reviews:
Dogfish Head Burton Baton
I love a good porter or saison, but the IPA remains my favorite beer style. When I was first making the transition from the cheap macro lagers served at college keggers to the diverse styles offered by craft breweries there were a few beers that nurtured my love for the IPA. One was the omnipresent Harpoon IPA, which quickly became my go-to beer when I moved to Boston. Another was Dogfish Head 60 minutes IPA. Compared to the English-style IPAs that were made by many local brewers, the continually hopped 60-minute (and it’s big-brother 90 minute) were my first introductions to the hop-bomb IPA styles. I imagine some younger beer drinkers would find 60 Minute IPA to be relatively mild (if still delicious) compared to some newer offerings. With all of the history I have with Dogfish Head I was a little surprised to realize that I hadn’t reviewed any of their beers for Hoppy Boston yet. Today I’ll amend that by reviewing Burton Baton, a barrel aged IPA. Burton Baton is actually a mixture of an English old ale and an IPA, brewed separately then mixed and aged in oak barrels for a month. While I love some barrel-aged stouts, I am undecided of aged IPA’s. One of my favorite parts of hoppy beers is the aroma, and some of this is lost with aging. Since this beer is more of a hybrid, and I trust the brewery, I thought it would be more fun to review Burton Baton over the ubiquitous 60 and 90 minute IPAs.
Dogfish Head Burton Baton pours a tangerine orange with a moderate but quickly dissipating white head. The scent is a mixture of floral hops and some oaky notes. The taste is hop forward but not in the palate-wrecking hop-bomb way that you get with West coast style IPAs. There are touches of pine, lemon and grass along with a bit of bitterness. The malts are also well represented, adding substantial caramel and grainy bread to the flavor. The aging clearly supplements the hops and malt, the distinct flavor of vanilla and oak comes through strong. At 10% ABV this is a big beer and the sweet and warming flavor of the alcohol is evident. I am still not completely sold on barrel-aging IPAs or similar hop-forward beers, just a personal preference. That being said, this is a solid offering with a complex and tasty flavor profile. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.