When a beer has been lauded with so much praise, you’re best off to approach your first experience with that brew with an even-keeled mix of anticipation and skepticism. The Bruery’s Saison Rue pulled top ranking as the best beer of 2012 by Wine Enthusiast, a publication whose pedigree implies that this is no simple beer. Effusive oenophile adjectives are therefore unavoidable, but don’t let that dissuade you. We’re happy to report that the skeptics do not win out on this one.
The Belgian/Fresh farmhouse ale pours smoothly, settling into a cloudy, light caramel color with a medium white head that barely fades in the glass. The nose carries a light wisp of brett yeast funk and a hint of cardamom under a stronger backbone of malt, clove, and earthy fruit. On the tongue the malty rye dominates, with a complex undercurrent of honey, dried peach, pear, and hints of citric hops. The funkiness isn’t terribly present, but develops as the glass warms, and ties the complex flavors together as the tastes linger on the sides of the tongue. Expect lots of carbonation and a robust mouthfeel akin to a nice red wine. And like wine, this is a beer that benefits from food pairings—salted meats, roast chicken, or fresh salmon. This is the kind of beer that beer-lovers will appreciate, and non-beer drinkers will likely enthusiastically exclaim “This is beer?”
It’s basically a gateway drug into the high-end micro-brew scene.
As with most of the Bruery’s beers, the Saison Rue is bottle-conditioned and unfiltered. The hoppy notes will mellow with age, bringing the barnyard brett to the fore. Plan accordingly.
Brewery: The Bruery
City: Orange County, Calif.