The history of Toronto’s Left Field Brewing has been, if you’ll allow me to indulge in a little baseball lingo, one of hits and foul balls. Which is to say that when Mark and Mandie Murphy have a hit, it is a screaming line drive to the left field wall, resulting in not quite an inside the park home run, but a solid stand-up double. I refer here to beers like the Eephus Oatmeal Brown Ale and, to a lesser degree — let’s say a solid single — the Maris Pale Ale. When they miss, as with the Sunlight Saison, it’s not that far from being a solidly hit fair ball.
Their new anniversary beer, however, suitably titled Anniversary No. 3, is a straight up home rum. Not quite an upper deck shot, perhaps, and certainly not in the Jose Bautista bat flip league, but a definite third row, centre field, never any doubt about it shot.
The Nelsons Sauvin hops used in the dry hopping are immediately evident in the nose of this cloudy, light gold beer, rich with gooseberry aromas and lighter notes of lime zest. There is some gently sweet tropical fruitiness at the front of of the palate, as well, but that quickly blends into a balanced body featuring grassy green grape, subdued gooseberry, white pepper and dry rather than tart or bitter lemony notes.
The best part of this beer, though, and the most demonstrably and classically saison aspect of it, is the bone dry and mild to moderately bitter finish, with lingering lemon and white pepper. This is simply a lovely riff on the saison style, made without bullshit oak barreling or the employment of any number of herbs and flavourings, and a beer I’d like other brewers to try before they slap the word “saison” on their latest not-very-saison-like creation.