Welcome back Andrew, our favorite (yet reluctant) scenester, offering up his tasting notes on the flavor of the saison tapping now, ‘Seven Wives Saison’ by Sonoran Brewing. Read on, to find out where to drink up.
Arizona’s brewers have been growing both in number and in notoriety for years. Dozens of local watering holes from sports bars to high-end restaurants alike are offering local brews on tap or in the bottle. Arizona beer is finally reaching the point where it’s embraced, both in-state and nationally. It’s in this background that Sonoran Brewing, a well-respected Scottsdale-based brewhouse, kicked off its chef collaboration series in March of 2012, starting with the Seven Wives Saison.
This beer is the first saison made in Arizona. A saison is a beer that was originally made in a French-speaking region of Belgium, known as Wallonia. What primarily differentiates a saison from other light-bodied ales with medium alcohol content is the unique Belgian yeasts that ferment the mash and create a floral, “funky” flavor at the back of the taste. Brew-master Zach Schroeder used a mix of two slightly different farmhouse-style yeasts in this iteration.
Sonoran’s saison is made with the help of Chef Jeremy Pacheco, Executive Chef at Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn in Paradise Valley. While brewmaster Zach Schroeder and the Chef aren’t talking about who had which idea, the beer is presented as a collaborative effort between them. What is clear is that this is a beer with lots of ideas.
The beer’s name, “Seven Wives,” comes from the founder of the Hermosa Inn, famed cowboy artist Lon Megargee, who happened to have been married to seven different women. The beer itself has seven different adjuncts (ingredients added which aren’t part of the fermentation process) coming from Arizona sources. The adjuncts include wheat, whole fennel and fennel pollen, coriander, orange, mesquite syrup, and pink peppercorns.
The end result, with all the complicated features, is a beer that is ultimately refreshing and balanced. None of the adjuncts are particularly prominent; wheat, coriander, and citrus might hit the palette most distinctly, but none overwhelm. The beer isn’t too sweet or too peppery, but it certainly does have the lightly zesty aftertaste characteristic of beers based on Belgian yeasts. “It’s in the low 5% range – 5.2 or 5.3% ABV,” Shroeder told me. “It tastes like a great pool beer,” said my tasting buddy, Brian. He was right – Sonoran’s Seven Wives Saison is a great example of a beer that is light enough to drink in the dead of summer, but flavorful and complex enough to make every sip interesting. 22oz bottles will be available at AJ’s and other stores that sell Sonoran’s beer by mid-March.
You can try Seven Wives Saison on tap at Lon’s at The Hermosa now, and I suggest you bring a couple of friends and make an evening of it. Travis Nass, one of Arizona’s most innovative bartenders, is in the process of taking over Lon’s bar, called The Last Drop. This means that in addition to the innovative beer, you’ll have a golden opportunity to try an amazing cocktail, as well.