AS IF HE DIDN’T have enough to do overseeing the ascent of Perennial Artisan Ales, Brewmaster Cory King sacrifices more sleep over his own one-man operation, Side Project Brewing. The brand’s self-effacing name belies its Belgian-inspired output—all wood-aged, largely wood-fermented, vastly patient, categorically meticulous, and seriously good.
Though not yet a year since its launch, Side Project has already generated considerable buzz over its de facto flagship, Saison Du Fermier. Pouring a somewhat cloudy corn color, the beer has the persistent carbonation of champagne. Showing much of that dusty Saison signature, Du Fermier also offers up some fruity esters, lemon, slightly sharp acidity, and an underlying spread of wood and grapes from three months in white wine barrels. These latter two impressions anchor the beer on the palate, too, and counter a dryness of body that’s almost severe. The wild yeasts are obvious, but by blending aceto, lacto, and Brett into a ‘house cocktail’, no particular strain makes itself too strongly felt. A little lactic smoothness intertwines with the barrel notes, the acetic acid latches into the grape tannins, and Brett is the magic dust sprinkled over the whole concoction to unify it with a touch of funky must. The 7% ABV is a distant dream.
It is, in short, a commanding mission statement from a great brewing talent. But at five months in the bottle it may already be passing its prime, which would be strange for an ale of this style. And yet its Saison qualities seem now to be beginning to shift towards a vinegar thinness that would only become more pronounced with time. In any event, after experiencing Brett Venture #2 and seeing Fuzzy light up FoBAB, one can only wonder what even greater things are yet to come.
Served: 750 ml bottle