INTRODUCED In 2009, this punchy farmhouse ale from Great Divide debuted as a spring seasonal in 22 oz. bombers simply labeled ‘Saison’. The recipe caught on quickly with fans and judges alike and the beer had a busy sophomore year, winning a silver medal at the 2010 GABF, expanding its distribution into six-packs, and earning a soubriquet along the way: Colette. Her arrival came at a propitious time, as American tastes were awakening to the zesty delights of the style; today, Colette is the 10th member of Great Divide’s year-round rotation.
The brewery mixed up a special cocktail of four yeast strains for this beer, which might sound excessive by the archetypal ‘set it and forget it’ standard for Saison. But the effort proves worthwhile, producing a moderately complex and quite refreshing take on the style. Avoiding the common American pitfalls of over-sweetening or over-hopping, Colette strolls comfortably down the middle path, picking traits from either side as she goes.
The beer pours a hazy straw yellow, reminiscent of a semi-filtered Weizen with a fluffy white pillow of head. Its aroma is delectable, showing biscuit, lemon, sweet baked pineapple, grassy wheat, bit of clove, and fusty yeast redolent of a billowing spring cleaning. A touch more spice would have been welcome, but this is a small complaint amidst a field of contentment. This positive first impression are well-matched by the flavor, with the additional sweetness of cookie lurking somewhere in the midsection that the wheat nicely counters. Rice is used as an adjunct, transparently boosting the ABV to 7.3% while helping keep Colette’s body light and color bright. And it works, imparting no gummy textures or flavors. A mild bitterness—floral, a bit leafy—rises in the finish, though it likely doesn’t crest 25 IBUs; it’s a tasteful American twist that separates Colette from its Belgian provenance without being obvious about it.
The beer’s mouthfeel is the final key to its success, initially alcoholic and a little tangy, then simultaneously dry and creamy as the microscopic carbonation bubbles across the palate. Though fairly crisp, but a touch longer fermentation would have given the carbonation that final bit of pop and sculpted the finish a little more, perhaps also drawing out a hint more phenolic character. Even so, Colette is a great charmer and an inspired choice for year-round six-pack production.
Served: On tap (Clementi’s, Arlington Heights)