About this time of year, I usually start transitioning from warm-weather beers to stouts, heavies, and double IPAs — styles that offer their most belly-warming satisfaction during winter. But since I keep hearing El Niño will keep us in mild, wet weather for several months, I've still been dipping into the fridgeful of tarts and sours that I've been accruing throughout the autumn. Not because they're seasonal, but because these styles are becoming more prevalent among local brewers and I've been enjoying some of the more interesting efforts.
7705 Convoy Court, Kearny Mesa
Council Brewing's Beatitude tart saison counts as one of them, particularly because the Kearny Mesa brewery switches it up often. They’ve released a couple dozen different fruited varieties of the bottle-conditioned beer, including blueberry, raspberry, apricot — even cucumber and persimmon have been used.
I haven't tried the latter, but, so far, each fruity effort I've sampled has been enjoyable. They've been both sweetly sour and refreshing, with a range of interesting flavors brought about by the different fruit characteristics interacting with Council's in-house mix of both Saccharomyces and Brettanomyces yeasts, and Lactobacillus bacteria. The brewery attributes a bready malt to rye flakes and a no-boil brewing approach.
But a November release of Beatitude took a different tack. Rather than add fruit, Council dry-hopped its tart saison with mosaic. Which kind of makes sense. Mosaic hops convey extremely fruity characteristics in an IPA, particularly when their oils aren't burned off in a boil. Thus, dry-hopping — or adding hops post-fermentation — allows their less-bitter aromatics to shine through.
The practice of dry-hopping sours has been slowly gaining momentum among craft brewers in the past two or three years, and while San Diego hasn't been at the forefront of this trend, I expect to see it become more common here, as it opens the doors for a lot of creativity.
With this Beatitude, the big surprise is how fruity this non-fruited beer winds up. Without any reds, blues, or purples coming off berries, it pours a hazy yellow, almost the color of pineapple juice — I half expected to smell pineapple as I brought it to my nose.
I didn't pour carefully into a tulip glass as the brewery recommends, but I still got a little bit of that, though mostly a strong citrus aroma. Tasting it, I found lemon, with maybe a little pear or apple. My first impression was that it drank similar to a sparkling white, but on further sips I got to thinking of it more akin to a dry cider.
However, behind the tartness was a dry-toast crispness, with a light peppery bitterness just breaking through the acidity — beeriness coming through. Not overly complex, but interesting through its tropical finish, where that hint of pineapple better revealed itself.
Ultimately, the chance to try one of my favorite hops in a new context drove my appreciation for this one, and I look forward to more like it when we warm back up this spring.