Greg, Sam and Bill in the BUFF

With the combined forces of the Stone, Dogfish Head and Victory breweries behind a beer, you can pretty much bet it’s going to be: a) unusual; and b) very good. And so we come to Saison du BUFF, a collaborative brew from the minds behind the California, Delaware and Pennsylvania craft brewing empires.

(The “Greg, Sam and Bill” in the title are Stone’s Greg Koch, Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione and Victory’s Bill Covaleski, pictured slightly out of order to the left, and their not-so-subtle brewing moniker stands for “Brewers United for Freedom of Flavor.” Yeah, I know…)

Designed, obviously, as a saison, Messrs. Koch, Calagione and Covaleski couldn’t leave well enough alone – again, obviously, at least to those familiar with their beery work – so they spiced it, the label notes, with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. (Here I will resist the song reference that others will no doubt make.) It is the second of those four herbs that veritably leaps from the glass, however, all but obscuring everything else until the beer has been given a chance to warm from refrigerator temperature.

Once closer to cellar temperature, the other herbs begin to make themselves noticed, along with a sweet orangey fruitiness and white peppery spiciness. On the palate, the herbs again leap to the fore, this time led by the rosemary, bolstered by citrus and peach notes. In the second half, the hops begin to kick in, drying and bittering the flavour to a mildly warming, still herbaceous finish.

It’s not often that I complain about too much going on in a beer, but I can’t help but feeling this is a case of “less would be more.” That said, with a roast chicken or other form of fowl, I could see this “bouquet garni” of a brew working quite well.

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