It’s been a long and brutal winter, which we survived thanks to a steady infusion of sublime single malts. But warm weather is just around the corner, with no surer sign of the sun’s return than the arrival of a new batch of summer beers. First in line is the 2011 Samuel Adams Rustic Saison, a light, crisp, and flavorful ale that tastes like sunshine – precious, precious sunshine – in a glass.
This farmhouse-style beer is brewed with Belgian yeast and a touch of honey, giving it a floral aroma and fruity flavors that seem suited for an afternoon of lackadaisical lawn care or general sloth. Far from a chewy, sweet winter ale, it has a golden color and satisfyingly thin mouthfeel, with a well-balanced melange of herbal and citrus notes that accentuate its spicy hop bite. Sam Adams says farmhouse ales were traditionally brewed to “quench the thirst of farmers throughout the summer months,” and that sounds about right. I could see sipping one of these while baling hay or sowing seeds or whatever it is that farmers do. I wouldn’t recommend drinking beer to the exclusion of water, but if you remember to stay hydrated, it would make the sky that much bluer and the clouds that much fluffier. At 4.35% ABV, it’s wonderfully sessionable.
I envision the sweet spot for Rustic Saison to be between 2 and 4pm on a sunny afternoon. Drink one or two with friends, wash a car, chase a dog, play a game of volleyball, or just relax on a tattered lawn chair and think about life. You’ll get sleepy, so don’t fight the nap. You’ll wake up refreshed and ready for the real party. Summer is so sweet.