Tasting Notes: Celeste Saison from Iron Fist Brewing Company

CelesteSaisonPour2For 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!




Cascade Brewing & Burial Beer Co. Collaborate on Chêne des Fous Sour Ale

CascadeBurialCascade Brewing (Portland, Oregon) has officially announced that it will begin the Limited Release of Chêne des Fous 2018, a special collaboration project with Burial Beer Co. (Asheville, North Carolina), on October 11, 2019.

Pronounced “shen de-FOO” and translating to mean “Oak of the Fools,” Chêne des Fous is “a blend of sour triple ales aged for up to 18 months in French oak barrels with dried sumac, fresh apricots and toasted American oak chains.”  Weighing in at 9.7% ABV, Chêne des Fous offers its drinker “intense oak flavors . . . met with savory lemon and dried fruit notes from the sumac and a subtle stone fruit aroma.”

Chêne des Fous 2018 will debut in Cascade’s two Portland pubs – Cascade Brewing Barrel House and Lodge at Cascade Brewing – on October 11 and will also make special appearance at Burial Beer Co.’s Burnpile Harvest Fest on Saturday, October 12. This Limited Release offering will hit distribution on October 11 as well, and you can expect to find it available in 500ml bottles and on draft at select craft beer-focused establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Oregon and throughout the rest of Cascade Brewing’s distribution area.  Prost!

Vital Information for Chêne des Fous 2018 from Cascade Brewing & Burial Beer Co.

Release – Limited; October 11, 2019
Style – American Sour Ale
ABV – 9.7%
Treatment – Blend of sour triple ales aged for up to 18 months in French oak barrels with dried sumac, fresh apricots & toasted American oak chains
Availability – 500ml bottles & draft

Great Divide Brewing Co. Adds Hopnaut Double Juicy IPA to Tank Farm Series

GDHopnautGreat Divide Brewing Company (Denver, Colorado) has officially announced that it will begin the Limited Release of Hopnaut Double Juicy IPA in October 2019.

Developed to take the place of Hop Disciples IPA in Great Divide’s Tank Farm Series, Hopnaut is Juicy Double India Pale Ale “brewed and double dry-hopped with an unearthly amount of Simcoe, El Dorado, Mosaic and Huell Melon hops.” This hop bill – which amounts to “over a pound and a half of hops per barrel” – lends this DIPA “bold tropical fruit and citrus notes along with hints of berry, stone fruit, pine and bubblegum.”  Coming in at 8% ABV, Hopnaut promises to be an “an extraterrestrial sensory experience.”

“With the success of our Hazy IPA, our brewers have been experimenting with a lot of hop-heavy hazy and juicy IPAs on the pilot system,” explained Bill Bertsch, Sr. Director of Brewery Operations. “Hopnaut will be a hit with New England-style IPA fans but also those who appreciate a well-balanced, filtered IPA.”

Hopnaut Double Juicy IPA is available now and is scheduled to stick around through January 2020.  You can expect to find this new Tank Farm offering available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at select craft beer-focused establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Colorado and throughout the rest of Great Divide’s distribution territory.  Prost!

Vital Information for Hopnaut Double Juicy IPA from Great Divide Brewing Company

Release – Limited/Tank Farm Series; October 2019 – January 2020
Style – Juicy Double India Pale Ale
ABV – 8%
Featured Hops – Simcoe, El Dorado, Mosaic & Huell Melon
Suggested Food Pairings – “Pheasant and rosemary winter stew; beet and carrot salad with curry dressing and pistachios; Emmental cheese and Marcona almonds; blueberry cream cheese pastries”
Availability – 6-packs of 12 oz. cans & draft
Beer Finder – https://greatdivide.com/beer-finder/

Hi-Wire Brewing Expands Distribution to Alabama

hi-wire-brewing.pngHi-Wire Brewing (Asheville, North Carolina) has officially announced that it has partnered with Alabama Crown Distributing Co. so that it can begin distribution in the entire state of Alabama in mid-October 2019.

Established in 2013, Hi-Wire Brewing is a fast-growing brewery that has built itself a solid reputation by “producing approachable and balanced lagers and ales, most notably Hi-Wire Lager, Bed of Nails Brown, and Hi-Pitch Mosaic IPA.” The brewery has since grown to consist of four locations: the Big Top Production Facility & Taproom and the original South Slope Specialty Brewery & Taproom, both located in Asheville, North Carolina; Hi-Wire Brewing at Golden Belt in Durham, North Carolina; and their first out-of-state Taproom in Knoxville, Tennessee. Hi-Wire Brewing beers are available in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, and now the great state of Alabama.

Hi-Wire Brewing will launch in Alabama with their “entire portfolio, including year-round, seasonal, and specialty beer offerings.”  To ensure that the Alabama craft beer community is properly introduced to their offerings, Hi-Wire Brewing’s owners and sales team will host a “variety of tap takeovers, beer pairings and other specialty events” at the following locations during the third week of October:

  • Tuesday, October 15 – Pies & Pints (7216 Eastchase Parkway | Suite D-31 | Montgomery, AL 36117)
  • Wednesday, October 16 – The Hound (124 Tichenor Ave | Auburn, AL 36830)

With Alabama Crown Distributing Co. handling all distribution responsibilities, the beers of Hi-Wire Brewing will begin hitting craft beer shelves and taps throughout the state of Alabama on Tuesday, October 15.  If you cannot make it out to any of the events listed above, just swing by your favorite craft beer-friendly establishment in Alabama to grab a pack or pint so that you can get acquainted with Hi-Wire Brewing’s tasty offerings.  Prost!



Avery Brewing Co. Adds Low-Cal Pacer IPA to Year-Round Lineup

desktop_1569520545_WEB_PacerIPA_Can_and_GlassAvery Brewing Co. (Boulder, Colorado) has officially announced that Pacer IPA, a Hazy IPA with only 100 calories and 3.5 carbs per serving, will join its Year-Round portfolio on October 18.

Created specifically to meet the needs of “increasingly health-conscious drinkers. . . driving the burgeoning ‘better-for-you’ category in beer,” Pacer IPA is a “legitimate, flavorful” Hazy India Pale Ale brewed with “traditional malted barley, . . . wheat and oats for fuller body, as well as an abundance of southern hemisphere hops, and contemporary dry-hopping techniques to achieve big, juicy, fruity aromas and flavors.” Coming in at just 4.5% ABV, 100 calories and 3.5 carbs, Pacer IPA is “built for winning at a balanced and active lifestyle.”

“This is an extremely selfish brewing endeavor. A beer brewed for me – an aging, wannabe-athlete who ‘drinks’ for a living, and desperately needs to start setting a new and healthier pace in life.”


– Adam Avery, Founder and CEO of Avery Brewing Co.

Pacer IPA will debut in the Tap Room at Avery Brewing Co. on October 18 and will enter distribution at or around that date.  You can expect to find this new Year-Round offering available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at craft beer-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Colorado and throughout the rest of Avery’s expansive distribution area.  Prost!

Vital Information for Pacer IPA from Avery Brewing Co.

Release – Year-Round; launching October 18, 2019
Style – Hazy/Juicy India Pale Ale 
ABV – 4.5% 
Calories – 100
Carbs – 3.5
Hops – Simcoe, Amarillo, Mosaic & Azacca 
Malts – 2-Row, Oats & White Wheat
Availability – 6-packs of 12 oz. cans & draft
Beer Finder – https://www.averybrewing.com/brew-finder

Portland Cider Co. Kicks Off New Small Batch Series with Release of Crangerine

Crangerine19Portland Cider Company (Clackamas, Oregon) has officially announced that it will launch its new Small Batch Series with the early October release of Crangerine.

Arriving as the first offering in the “cider maker’s dream line” of Small Batch releases, Crangerine is a “medium sweet” Hard Cider “highlighting delightfully tart and juicy tangerines complemented by fruity Oregon-grown cranberries.” Crimson in color and just 5.1% ABV, Crangerine is “perfect for food pairings and any occasion” this holiday season.

“The small batch series will let us experiment with some really fun flavors & styles, so we’re excited,” said Deron Davenport, Head Cider Maker for Portland Cider Co. “It gives us the chance to introduce great new ciders more frequently, to go along with our core line & seasonals, to give cider lovers more of what they love.”

Crangerine will officially debut on October 9 and is scheduled to hang around through the holiday season.  You can expect to find this new Small Batch release available in 19.2 oz. cans and on draft at “either of [Portland Cider Co.’s] two taprooms, as well as at specialty bottle shops and independent grocery stores, plus some Fred Meyers and Safeways, in the Portland Metropolitan area.”  Prost!

Vital Information for Crangerine from Portland Cider Co.

Release – Limited/Small Batch Series; October 9, 2019
Style – Hard Cider
ABV – 5.1%
Ingredients – Oregon cranberries, NW tangerines, Fuji apples, Pink Lady apples, Gala apples, Honeycrisp apples & Golden Delicious apples
Fun Fact – “Portland Cider Co. plans to release four to five more ciders within the Small Batch Series in 2020, starting in January with a canned release of its Blueberry Bourbon Basil collaboration cider with Blue Star Donuts.”
Suggested Food Pairings – “Roasted turkey, brie, pumpkin pie, salty ham, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables”
Availability – 19.2 oz. cans & draft
Cider Finder – https://www.portlandcider.com/cider-finder

Crangerine pint & 19.2 can

Founders Brewing Co. Introduces Civilized Brut IPA as Newest Seasonal Offering

civilized_brut_graphic_portraitFounders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, Michigan) has officially announced that it will roll out Civilized Brut IPA in November 2019 so that it may serve as the first Seasonal Release on the brewery’s 2020 Brand Calendar.

Developed to appeal to the “more sophisticated IPA drinker,” Civilized Brut is a Brut-style India Pale Ale that possesses “a clean and restrained bitterness” alongside a “malt sweetness [that allows] the hop notes to tantalize your senses in a bold yet never-overpowering way.” Coming in at a refreshing 6% ABV, the “unconventionally sophisticated” Civilized Brut is “brilliantly bubbly, refreshingly crisp and stunningly clear, similar to a fine Brut Champagne.”

“Nothing says refreshment like a dry, sparkling, hop-forward IPA,” said Brewmaster, Jeremy Kosmicki. “Civilized Brut has just the right amount of bitterness and hop flavor to not overwhelm the clean and dry finish of this beer, while the high effervescence makes it feel like a party in every sip.”


“As the majority of brewers are introducing hazy, New England Style IPAs in the market, we have decided to take another road,” said President Dave Engbers. “Civilized Brut is a crystal-clear IPA that’s bursting with effervescence and elegant aromatics. Perfect for champagne and IPA aficionados alike.”

Civilized Brut will hit Founders Brewing Co.’s Grand Rapids and Detroit taprooms on October 30 and is scheduled to enter distribution in November 2019.  You can expect to find this new Seasonal Release available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans, 15-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at craft beer-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Michigan and throughout the rest of Founders Brewing Co.’ s nationwide distribution network.  Prost!

Vital Information for Civilized Brut IPA from Founders Brewing Co.

Release – Seasonal; November 2019 – March 2020
Style – Brut India Pale Ale
ABV – 6%
IBUs – 45
Availability – 6-packs of 12 oz. cans, 15-packs of 12 oz. cans & draft
Beer Finder – https://foundersbrewing.com/beer/find-our-beer/


Straight to Ale Adds Third Rock Maibock to Lineup of Limited Releases

STA3rdRockStraight to Ale (Huntsville, Alabama) has officially announced that it will introduce Third Rock Maibock on October 16 as the brewery’s newest Limited Release offering.

Developed to help craft beer drinkers settle comfortably into the cooler days of autumn, Third Rock Maibock is a traditional German-style Pale Bock that is “malty with a mild bitterness and a creamy white head.”  Coming in at 8% ABV, the medium-bodied Third Rock Maibock features a “light, crisp hop finish that feels like fall in your glass!”

Third Rock Maibock will debut in the Taproom at Straight to Ale on Wednesday, October 16 and is scheduled to enter distribution shortly after the on-site release.  You can expect to find this new Limited Release available in 4-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at select craft beer-friendly retailers, bars and restaurants located in Alabama, Florida and throughout the rest of the brewery’s distribution area.  Prost!

Vital Information for Third Rock Maibock from Straight to Ale

Release – Limited; October – December 2019
Style – Maibock/Pale Bock
ABV – 8%
IBUs – 8
Suggested Food Pairings – “General: Korean barbecue | From Ale’s Kitchen: Kimche Pork Tacos”
Availability – 4-packs of 12 oz. cans & draft
Distribution – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee & Louisiana

Second Self Beer Co. Launches New Contender Hazy IPA Series

SSB_NewContenderSecond Self Beer Company (Atlanta, Georgia) has officially announced that it will introduce New Contender, a new series of Hazy IPAs, on October 12 with the Limited Release of El Dorado vs. Mosaic.  

Inspired by Second Self’s appreciation for classic fighting video games, New Contender is “a creative spin on the hazy IPA by using a new two-hop blend each time it’s brewed, resulting in original flavor combinations with each release.”  Each “round” will have two hops “‘battle it out’ to see which remains for the next release.”  The winner of each release will be chosen by the Second Self team and the “vanquished hop” will be replaced by a “New Contender” for the next release in the series.

New Contender – El Dorado vs. Mosaic, the inaugural release in the series, is a Hazy India Pale Ale that pits the “tropical fruit flavors” of El Dorado hops against Mosaic’s “flavors of mango, pine, citrus and herbs and aromas of tropical and stone fruit.”**

** Hop descriptions sourced from Hopslist **

“We love the creativity of our team, and when Head Brewer Austin Brumley came to me with this idea, I knew we had to run with it,” says Second Self Co-Founder and Beer Architect, Jason Santamaria. “We’re excited to experiment with different hops in ways we have not before. I can’t wait to see how the beer community responds to it.”

New Contender – El Dorado vs. Mosaic will debut at Second Self’s Five Year Anniversary Party at their Westside Taproom (1317 Logan Circle NW | Atlanta, Georgia) on October 12.  Future New Contender releases will be available for purchase in 16 oz. cans at Second Self and at select craft beer-friendly establishments located within the brewery’s distribution footprint in Georgia and South Carolina. Prost!

Vital Information for New Contender- El Dorado vs. Mosaic from Second Self Beer Company

Release – Limited/New Contender Series; October 12, 2019
Style – Hazy India Pale Ale
ABV – 6.5%
IBUs – ???
Featured Hops – El Dorado & Mosaic
Fun Fact – “Keith Rein, design specialist at Salt and Paper House in Athens, Georgia, created the cheeky artwork in addition to a running list of other labels he has made for Second Self, such as the more recent releases of their cocktail-inspired series and Golden Blonde.”


Wild Leap Brew Co. Releases Alpha Abstraction – Vol. 9 Double IPA

wl_individpage_alpha9_can.pngWild Leap Brew Co. (LaGrange, Georgia) has officially announced that it will begin the Limited Release of Alpha Abstraction – Vol. 9, a double dry-hopped Double IPA, in mid-October 2019.

Here to “[follow] in the juicy footsteps of its predecessors” in Wild Leap’s experimental Double IPA series, Alpha Abstraction – Vol. 9 is a Hazy Double India Pale Ale that has been double dry-hopped with Michigan Chinook hops, a Midwest varietal of the Chinook hop that is typically grown on the West Coast.  These hops have a “new, distinct taste” that lends this beer “the sweetness of pineapple . . . paired with a tart grapefruit bite.”  Alpha Abstraction – Vol. 9 clocks in at 8% ABV and 46 IBUs.

“The Chinook hop traditionally brings a piney, dank flavor that is about 70% pine and 30% pineapple,” explains Chris Elliott, Wild Leap Head Brewer. “With Michigan Chinook, we are finding that those flavors have almost flipped, and we are getting a much sweeter result with a strong pineapple essence.”


“When brewing new volumes in the Alpha series, we are always seeking the new and unknown,” shares Elliott. “When we first learned of these varieties being grown on small farms, it was the perfect fit for Volume 9.”

Alpha Abstraction – Vol. 9 is set to debut during the week of October 14 and will hang around as long as supplies last.  You can expect to find this Limited Release available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at select craft beer-focused establishments located within Wild Leap’s distribution footprint in Georgia. Prost!

Vital Information for Alpha Abstraction – Vol. 9 from Wild Leap Brew Co.

Release – Limited/Alpha Abstraction Series; mid-October 2019
Style – Hazy/Juicy Double India Pale Ale
ABV – 8%
IBUs – 46
Featured Hops – Michigan Chinook
Fun Fact – “The Alpha Abstraction Double IPA series was created as an opportunity to explore the plethora of hop varieties and to experiment with flavor profiles they create. Volume 9 continues with this trend by introducing Michigan Chinook hops to the brewing process.”
Availability – 6-packs of 12 oz. cans & draft
Beer Finder – http://www.wildleap.com/beer-finder/