Tasting Notes: Sundance Grapefruit Saison from Lonerider Brewing Company

loneriderSundancecan.jpgAs the seasons begin to slowly shift, we welcome the coming spring by recording some Tasting Notes on Sundance Grapefruit Saison from Lonerider Brewing Company (Raleigh, North Carolina).

Set to officially debut on March 6 as Lonerider Brewing’s newest spring seasonal, Sundance Grapefruit Saison is a “traditionally inspired Saison” that has received an added kick of grapefruit refreshment.  The use of fresh grapefruit is meant provide “extra tartness and citrus flavors” to complement the unique characteristics of the beer’s yeast and Jarrylo hops.  Clocking in at just 6% ABV and 34 IBUs, this Saison promises a crisp and fresh experience that “exhibits legendary smoothness and taste.”  When released, Sundance Grapefruit Saison will be available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at craft beer-friendly establishments in Alabama, North Carolina, and throughout the rest of Lonerider’s distribution area.

That should get everyone caught up on the background information for Sundance Grapefruit Saison, so let’s not waste another moment and get to some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Sundance Grapefruit Saison from Lonerider Brewing Company

Appearance: Bright and vibrant, Sundance Grapefruit Saison fills the glass with a hazy body that is deep orange at its core, but surrounded by shades of color that taper from lighter oranges down to straw yellow.  Held to direct light, yellows push through a bit more but the deeper oranges hold most of their ground.  A cautious pour produced over three fingers of loose, bubbly white foam.  The head falls rather quickly, leaving a paper-thin, airy top cap that drops wispy tracks of lace on the glass from time to time.

Aroma: Just as billed, this beer grabs the nose’s attention with distinct notes of pithy grapefruit and Saison yeast.  The grapefruit note is big, incredibly fresh, and wonderfully enticing.  This is complemented nicely by trademark peppery and musty Saison qualities.  It may sound simple and straightforward, but each aromatic waft of this beer convincingly suggests that you need to take a sip.

Taste: The brewers have represented the Saison well here by allowing the characteristic flavors of the style to take center stage.  Wonderfully earthy, this beer is filled with notes of wet wood and grain, mustiness, herbaceousness, and just a touch of barnyard.  The yeast then shifts to its sweet and spicy side to add tones of black pepper and citrus fruit.  This makes for a seamless transition to the grapefruit, lending a supporting hand that is sweet, bitter and a little tart.  The grapefruit is easily recognizable but held in check to only act as a counterbalance to the spicy, peppery qualities of the yeast.  Nicely composed.

Mouthfeel: This beer falls on the lighter side of medium in body and displays a lively carbonation presence.  This makes for a crisp and easy-drinking sip with a beautifully dry finish.  The beer plays with the palate by being earthy, sweet, bitter and lightly tart.  The ABV is subdued and plays no role in the experience.  The aftertaste is a touch of lingering black pepper and grapefruit.

Final Thoughts: From the first sip, it is quite obvious that Sundance Grapefruit Saison was meant to be a Saison first and a Fruit Beer second.  Saison characteristics absolutely dominate the flavor and only allow the grapefruit a supporting role in that arena.  With that said, there is a bit of give and take here when you consider that the grapefruit acts as the prominent seductive element in the beer’s aroma.  The grapefruit unquestionably knows its place, and that is to lift up, accentuate and celebrate the signature qualities of the Saison style.  If I was forced to voice one gripe about the beer, it would be concerning its lack of head retention.  Saisons typically have a big, rocky top cap that stubbornly lasts throughout the experience to boost the beer’s aromatics.  Sundance falters a bit in that regard, but truly excels in so many other areas.  This offering defines the idea of full-flavored, but it still remains refreshing and gulp inducing.  This is a remarkably well thought out brew, and I definitely see myself enjoying many cans of Sundance Grapefruit Saison this spring.  Prost!