Funkwerks Brewery | Nelson Sauvin Saison
For a bright, cheery companion to our (faux) Turkey and savory side dishes this past holiday season, we looked no further than the Funkwerks Nelson Sauvin Saison that had been chilling in the back of the refrigerator for two weeks. It seemed the obvious choice – for one, the label boasted contents that “blur the line between wine and beer”, which seemed appropriately classy, and two, the gargantuan 750 ml Funkwerks bottle was leaving zero room for Thanksgiving groceries.
As far as we can tell, the Nelson Sauvin is only rotating in Funkwerks’ tap room, where it’s also available in the large bottles. For those who won’t make it to Funkwerks’ home base, the beer is based off of the more widely-distributed flagship Funkwerks Saison recipe but is instead single-hopped with New Zealand Nelson Sauvin hops. Muscat grape must (which is freshly-pressed juice, including the seeds, skin and stems) is added during fermentation to give the beer a lighter, vinous quality.
The beer poured straw-colored with a light, foamy head. High carbonation was definitely visible, and we smelled all sorts of potent aromas: white grape, honeydew, gooseberry, honey, and a distinct spicy funk from the saison yeast. Tasting the beer added levels of lychee, limes, and, of course, a bright hops flavor courtesy of the Nelson Sauvin, which tastes like a bright, fruity white wine. The initial tasting transitions from complex fruit flavor to the dry spicy finish of black pepper, coriander and saison funk. This is a beer that is best enjoyed fresh; the hop aroma and some hop flavor will probably diminish within a matter of weeks after bottling for a hop-forward beer like this.
For the yeast nerds out there, the Funkwerks house yeast strain comes from Wyeast’s 3711 French Saison varietal*. The funky, spicy, peppery/phenolic characteristics help to enhance hop aromas, making it a really great choice for any beer showcasing a special hop. Of all the Nelson Sauvin beers we’ve tried, Funkwerks enhances this unique hop the absolute best.
We saved some room for this hefty bottle of beer on our nearly-full list of things to be thankful for this year. Hope you get a chance to try this one on a porch filled with lots of good friends and family!