This week’s Tasting Notes journeys into the dark side of Saisons with a look at Selene Saison from Victory Brewing Company (Downingtown, Pennsylvania).
Created as the sister beer to Helios Belgian Farmhouse Ale from Victory Brewing, Selene Saison is a dark example of the style filled with notes of “chocolate and clove funk, while rye blends with herbal and spicy whole flower East Kent Goldings hops to produce a smooth finish.” In order to add even more dynamic depth to the brew, fermentation was achieved with Blaugies and two strains of the wild Brettanomyces yeast. Selene Saison was released back in the fall as a limited offering available in 750ml bottles and on draft. Although it has been several months since this beer made its debut, there is always a chance of stumbling across a few bottles sitting on shelves throughout Victory Brewing’s 35 state distribution area. With those particulars now covered, it is time to pop this cork and get into some Tasting Notes!
Tasting Notes for Selene Saison from Victory Brewing Company
Appearance: Selene presents herself as an incredibly dark brown, seemingly black color. Held to direct light, the deep brown hues gain strength and push through with more force at the top and bottom of the glass. Although opaque, a lively carbonation can be seen coursing at the edges. A gentle pour resulted in two, fast building fingers of dark tan head that proves to have wonderful retention. The foam has a good amount of stick to it and sheets the glass with lace.
Aroma: Clove and barnyard funk pleasantly greet the nose first. Dark fruits, black cherry, banana and freshly cut grain rise gently and mingle nicely with the funk. Complexity abounds as rich leather, spicy rye and earthy hops round off the aroma. Everything here is enticing and fresh. A good descriptor of these aromatics is comforting . . . soothing even.
Taste: When it comes to flavor, Selene proves to be a different, but equally beautiful creature. The solid malt profile establishes itself first with notes of fresh grain, earthy rye and dark chocolate. The earthiness of the rye provides a smooth transition to the musty funk character – tobacco, wet wood, and barnyard – of the yeast. Clove steadily emerges alongside spicy and herbal hop tones to finish off each sip.
Mouthfeel: This Saison is medium bodied with a medium to high carbonation level. This allows the beer to have a slightly creamy texture while still drinking like a much lighter brew. The ABV is light in presence and only displays a soft tinge of heat at times. The beer dries out slowly and nicely. The remaining aftertaste is nothing but the beautiful funk supplied by the yeast strains.
Final Thoughts: Selene Saison is powerful and striking right from the pour. The aroma is a wonderful balance of pronounced intensity and inviting comfort. Just as each inhale makes you feel like you have this brew figured out, the flavors have their own direction and unique characteristics. This being the case, somehow everything still manages to come together into an alluringly cohesive experience. Although the choice to take on a dark Saison adds some complications to many purists of the style, Selene shows off just enough Saison character to keep everyone happy. That said, this stunner’s overall intention is to break the mold by teasing the drinker with a ridiculous amount of unexpected twists and turns. Mesmerizing. Tantalizing. Gorgeously executed. Prost!