Total Score: 8.3/10
This S&W “Pilot Batch” is their latest limited release, and the first they’ve decided to bottle. I’ve never seen a beer spend less time on a shelf – my local Black Sheep bottle shop had a single case of 12 bottles sell like some type of flat pastry that goes well with maple syrup and whipped cream [hot cakes???] I got my grubby mitts on one of the few that were left – mission accomplished for S&W re: sales and whatnot (hopefully it’s not as shite as The Forager). So I was quite looking forward to get my olfactory senses back after being struck with a head cold, now they’re back and it’s Saison en Chêne (in oak) time, giddyup!
Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.
A: Pale straw cloudy body with a white-as-the-driven thin lace blanket on top. Looks very Wit-ish. Head is a bit disappointing, but [that’s what she said?] sometimes thems the breaks with Saison heads. Possibly the most virginal white head I’ve ever seen though – it’s almost titanium white. 7/10.
S: Very much what The Forager could have been in terms of aroma – plenty of banana, pear and apple esters – actually a bit more on the Tripel side than anything (I’m thinking of you Chimay White!). Hint of clove spice, and vanilla from the oak. Yep, it’s definitely a Saison in yeast only… still: no complaints here. 8/10.
T: Flavour really brings it back to Saison territory (barnyard notes) with a touch of extra dry Prosecco. Following this it’s pear/apple esters, a touch of vanilla, and a hint of banana – damn this is a pretty complex (read: tasty!) Saison en Chêne! The finish is quite dry – that Prosecco flavour really adds a vinous character to this Pilot Batch. Balance and complexity: My 2 favourite things in a beer – right here. 9/10.
M: Borderline medium bodied with a thin but sharp carbonation and some real acidic bite in the mouthfeel, again: wine-like. 7/10.
D: I want more [shame it’s all gone then!]. Stone & Wood + Jilly Wines really put out a corker of a Saison: Complex, vinous and well-balanced – there’s nothing I didn’t like with this one. I wish craft brewers would experiment more with wine-makers more often because the results are nothing short of interesting. This is one of those brews I’ll be thinking about for the next month and wishing it gets made again. Word of warning though: It’s acid heavy, extra dry and vinous – some of these things might not go down well with beer drinkers who don’t like wine. 8/10.
Food match: This is a good aperitif beer which would go well with a before meal hors d’oeuvre or a cheese platter.