Burial Pinot Noir Haysaw Saison

Drink Reviews
Burial Pinot Noir Haysaw Saison

There’s no denying Asheville is one of the best beer cities in the US. I’d argue it’s top of the list, but I’ll admit to being a little partial. One of the spots that’s doing its part to churn out great brews is Burial Beer Company, located in a part of downtown that boasts five breweries (and a bottle shop) in less than a two-block radius. The brewery opened up in 2013 with a one-barrel system it used for nearly a year and a half before sizing up to 10 barrels in late 2014.

That upgrade allowed Burial to begin canning four of its core beers, including the Belgian-esque Haysaw Saison. Burial has also been keen on special bottle releases over the last several months. Those releases included a Pinot Noir barrel-aged version of the saison it cans, sourcing barrels from the nearby Biltmore Estate.

This barrel-aged variant of Haysaw Saison pours a golden amber color. There’s a pure white head that mostly vanishes to the edge of the glass, leaving only a thin veil over the beer. The nose is loaded with farmhouse notes and hints of vanilla. I also notice some fruit aromas similar to what you’d smell in a whiff of a Belgian dubbel. Haysaw Saison is brewed with Belgian caramel malts and you can certainly tell. There’s no doubt you’re smelling a glass of saison, but there’s a bit of the banana-like esters from traditional Belgian beers, too. Haysaw Saison, the non-barrel-aged version, offers some fig and clove-like notes, and those come through in the nose here as well.

The first sip is true to the nose with plenty of earthy saison character without being overpowering. I’ve had saisons that are loaded with that somewhat funky farmhouse flavor profile, but there’s not much else going on. This is not the case with Burial’s Haysaw Saison (both the regular and barrel-aged versions). It has plenty of the traditional farmhouse flavor, but additionally, this beer has depth and complexity beyond the subtle funk. Those Belgian notes from the nose carry through to boost the complexity, and there’s a hint of the wine barrel adding a touch of oaky vanilla and fruit to round out the taste.

Barrel notes don’t overpower the base beer, but complement it instead, leaving layers of flavor. In terms of mouthfeel, the carbonation is spot-on with an almost creamy body. I know that sounds odd for the style, but there’s a little more heft to this beer than I typically experience with other saisons. This can also be attributed to the Belgian malts. After giving the beer a few minutes to warm up, the nose gets more caramel and fig with the farmhouse aroma fading a bit to the background. Had I not just had a sip a few minutes before, someone could easily pass this off as a dubbel, or maybe even a quadrupel, based solely on the nose. Those Belgian ingredients really come through as this wine-barrel variant warms.

Don’t expect a heavy dose of vinous wine flavor here, but what you can look forward to is a complex beer that offers a unique take on the saison/farmhouse style. There’s a depth of flavor that drinks more like a hybrid of a saison and a traditional Belgian ale rather than a straightforward farmhouse beer. If you’re a big fan of those traditional Belgian styles, but haven’t yet ventured into saisons, this is worth seeking out.

Brewery: Burial Beer Company
City: Asheville, North Carolina
Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale
ABV: 6.2%
Availability: Limited Distribution (NC)

Billy is the host of The Brewcast, a beer podcast that never records on a regular schedule. You can follow his drinking habit @beardbrews on Twitter.

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