For this installment of Tasting Notes, we bask in the splendor that is Saison Sunday by savoring a pour of Celeste Saison from Iron Fist Brewing Company (Vista, California).
Introduced back in June as the fifth release of 2019 in Iron Fist’s series of Small Batch Experiments, Celeste is a Belgian-style Saison created with the use of “traditional Belgian methods, with a touch of celestial magic and perfected for the California sunshine.” Balanced by “malty and tart notes with aromas of citrus, light clove, banana, and a hint of bubble gum,” this Saison is meant to be a “deeply refreshing” summertime brew that highlights bright notes of “lemon and white pepper.” Coming in at just 5.0% ABV, Celeste is light in body with a “lively carbonation” and a “crisp, dry finish.”
Celeste was released in June 2019 in Iron Fist’s Vista and Barrio Logan taprooms with limited availability on draft and in a limited-edition run of 500 12 oz. cans. This offering’s supply is no doubt dwindling, but activity on Untappd (as of 10.13.19) seems to indicate that it is still pouring on draft in Iron Fist’s taprooms.
Alright . . . now that we are all a little more familiar with Celeste, let’s fully immerse ourselves in Saison Sunday with some Tasting Notes!
Tasting Notes for Celeste Saison from Iron Fist Brewing Company
Appearance: A careful pour into a stemless red wine glass produces a Saison that is a sunny, golden yellow in color and capped with nearly two fingers of fast-forming, bright white foam. When held to direct light, the yellows pick up even more intensity and lighten to a lemony hue at the edges. The beer has a touch of cloudiness to it, but steady streams of carbonation can still be seen working within to feed that trademark Saison head. Retention is quite good, falling slowly to a fluffy ring that still has the ability to notch the glass with wide lines of lace after each and every pull.
Aroma: The Saison yeast is wonderfully pronounced (even when the glass is at arm’s length), giving off notes of clove, bubble gum, banana, pear and white pepper. The hops lend a tinge of herbaceousness that translates as wintergreen mint and chamomile. The aromatics close with softly sweet tones of clean, fresh grain.
Taste: The Saison yeast once again captures the spotlight, dominating the flavor profile with gorgeous notes of banana, clove, bubble gum, sweet pear, floral honey, and white pepper. A touch of citrus – lemon and orange zest – brightens things a bit and draws your attention to a somewhat shy herbal hop character. All of this is carried on a backbone comprised of sweet, lightly toasted grains, wet hay, and a touch of mustiness.
Mouthfeel: On the light side of medium in body with a medium carbonation level, this beer is soft on the palate and finishes wonderfully dry and clean. The balance is impeccable. It not too sweet or too hoppy, and this allows the yeast to really shine. At 5.0% ABV, it is incredibly refreshing and highly drinkable. The aftertaste is just a lingering touch of banana and bubble gum.
Final Thoughts: For a brewery to properly execute a true representation of the Saison, the finished beer just has to embrace every aspect and characteristic of its yeast. The experience – and it is an experience when done right – is difficult to properly describe, but it provides a full sensory experience similar to the one you might get while sitting on the porch of country home as the breezes of a cool evening carry to you all the smells, tastes and sounds from across the fields, the barn, the dirt roads, etc. Although there is so much there for you to take in, you are allowed the time to appreciate it at your own pace. It is a peaceful beauty that all great Saisons possess – think Saison Dupont from Brasserie Dupont, Fantôme Saison from Brasserie Fantôme, Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale from Boulevard Brewing Co. and Allagash Saison from Allagash Brewing Company just to name a few – and Iron Fist was able to harness and capture a great deal of that beauty in Celeste.
This is not something that happens by accident, and you can tell that Iron Fist’s brewers really took their time with this one. This beer was nurtured, and that Saison yeast character was cultivated with care so that it could reach its full potential in both flavor and aroma. It is more than obvious that everyone that had a hand in this beer wanted to absolutely nail the style and nail it they did.
Beyond their attention to the yeast, Iron Fist made another fantastic decision by having this beer come in at the lower end of the style’s ABV range (5%). This makes Celeste an incredibly refreshing and easy drinking beer – perfect for late summer/early fall – that still possesses all the big, complex aromas and flavors you want from a Saison.
Celeste Saison is a special beer and we just cannot say enough good things about it. We are aware that it is late in this Limited Release’s life cycle, but you need to treat yourself to this beer if the opportunity arises. If not, just make sure that you keep Iron Fist on your radar because they are putting out some truly exceptional beers right now. Prost!