At my day job, my colleagues and I recently brainstormed potential names for a saison. A rangy ale style originally brewed on French and Belgian farmsteads, we toyed with many farm-inspired names. In the end, we simply called the beer “saison.” We weren’t as creative as the brain trust at Societe Brewing Company. To celebrate two years in business, brewers Travis Smith and Douglas Constantiner crafted a saison which they named The Gleaner.
When asked about the moniker, Constantiner explains that the term “gleaner” refers to “yesteryear’s dumpster-diver;” someone who would pick up scraps from freshly harvested farmlands. It’s a creative handle for a creative beer that will be on tap during Societe’s ten-day second-anniversary celebration, which kicked off yesterday and goes through June 29.
For some time, Smith and Constantiner have wanted to utilize California sagebrush in a beer. They felt this 6.8% alcohol-by-volume special celebratory offering was as good a time as any. The trick was, finding out the best method for incorporating the special ingredient, which is intense and woody in much the same way as rosemary. Its flavor was so bold that it took very little to flavor the whole batch. All the same, it comes through clearly and in harmony with the rest of The Gleaner’s makeup.
Herbs and a lager-like sulfur quality come on in the nose, followed by a slight tartness and forest-like bitterness that’s not to be confused with piney bitterness. That’s because both the hops (Saaz and Sterling) and the sagebrush work together to create a quality that’s woody and green versus assertively resinous. The bitterness is pleasant and subdued, mirroring the beer itself, which is light in body, easy-drinking, and suitable for toasting one of San Diego’s sudsy young up-and-comers.