Deschutes’ new Cultivateur Provisional Saison is the first beer to “graduate” to wider release from the Bend, OR-based brewery’s experimental Pub Reserve series. And it’s easy to see why. It takes its inspiration from typical farmhouse saisons, those light and citric-forward beers originally crafted in the cooler, less active months in the French-speaking region of Belgium, brewed mostly for farm workers after a long day toiling the fields. Only Deschutes’ take on this style is naturally more complex, following the States-side trend of upping the ABV considerably (to 7.5% in this case), and barrel-aging the ale in pinot casks to bring forth a mix of saison, brett, and sour styles.
The result? Complex and refreshing, with rustic notes typical to the style, but with woodiness from the barrel and a sourness that doesn’t overwhelm. The orangey cloud of liquid in the glass testifies that it’s unfiltered, with apricot and grass on the nose, as well as a hint of hay. The mouthfeel is a bit thicker than expected, with a sparkling effervescence grounded by the oakiness from the barrel. The first sip delivers the expected tartness, but also a bit of spice and overripe fruit that lingers with a farmhouse funk. A lot going on, for sure. But in a measured and well-executed manner—rather than letting the ingredients scream, they all sing in measured, mellow harmony.
It drinks lighter than its ABV would lead you believe, but some might find the beer benefits from cellaring a while to let the somewhat subtle sour notes really mature. Either way, here’s hoping more beers will be deemed as worthy as this one from their Bend- and Portland-based brew pubs/tasting rooms. If the Cultivateur Provisional Saison is any indication, it’ll be worth it whenever that happens.
City: Bend, OR
Availability: 750 mL bottle, draft