Thomas Creek Brewery | Honeysuckle Saison
Thomas Creek Brewery of Greenville, SC has added a few new brews to their portfolio. These brews are so new that they are not yet on their official website. Among the newbies is Thomas Creek’s first and only Saison, Honeysuckle Saison ale.
This style of beer is not uncommon in the craft beer scene, but not as numerous as the IPA or stout. Historically, farmhouse style ales, as saisons are sometimes called, are the opposite of Oktoberfest/Märzen (March). Both are brews that use spices and seasonings from the season they are brewed in and stored until the opposite of that season. Saisons are brewed and stored through the fall and winter and then served in the spring and summer. The opposite is done with Märzens. Nowadays, though, breweries can brew these styles whenever they want. However, in keeping with tradition, they tend to release them in their historically accurate seasons.
Thomas Creek has done just that, releasing their Honeysuckle Saison ale in the South Carolina summer as a refreshing respite from the blistering heat. Their saison is a complex ale with layers of flavors that change with temperature. Burying your nose into the glass will fill your mind with thoughts of open meadows, enveloping your senses with floral aromas mixed with warm spring air. The sip begins with a spice filled buttery flavor that rides a strong flow of carbonation from the glass to your mouth. It has a predominantly floral aroma and taste with only a hint of that funk usually found when wild yeast strains are used. This finishes with a dry mouthfeel and bitterness that hangs on the tongue until it is overcome by the next sip. For a complex beer that uses wild yeast, it is surprisingly crisp and clean, but this is all in true Thomas Creek fashion. After all, they pride themselves on their purification methods.
If you find that the flavors and aroma are overwhelming after the first two sips (do try to give a beer, at least, two sips before writing it off) then let it sit for a bit and warm closer to room temperature. I enjoyed mine straight out of the fridge, around 40 degrees, and found the flavors to be powerful and very forward (not unlike a teenager on a first date). However, after it had warmed up a bit, maybe 50 degrees, the flavors calmed and the aroma subsided. This left flavors reminiscent of a mild Belgian golden ale.
Whether you decide to take the assault of sensations head on or allow the battlefield to clear out a bit, this is a brew worth your time. Thomas Creek is going full steam ahead these days with new beers, expansion and lots more to come. Keep your eyes peeled for numerous exciting things coming from them.