Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Alchemist Celia Saison

As the name implies, The Alchemist Celia Saison is primarly geared towards gluten-free individuals. The story goes that Jennifer Kimmich, wife of founder and brewmaster John Kimmich, was diagnosed with gluten intolerance in 2007. This led to the creation of the Celia Saison, a farmhouse ale that went on to win a gold medal at the World Beer Cup for gluten free beer. This is their offering...

Alcohol Content: 6.5%
IBU: ?
Malts: None, (Sorghum)
Hops: Celia
Yeast: Belgian strain
Adjuncts: Curacao Orange Peel

Price: $8/ four pack 12oz bottles
Medium: Pint glass

Aroma: Fruity sour/ tartness reminiscent of lemons and orange peels or orange zest. Very appropriate for the base style. The hop character was very eccentric and something I was not used to. Peppery, spicy notes probably come from hops and are enhanced by the phenols from fermentation. Phenols become more apparent as the beer warms.
Appearance: Sparkly at first with lots of carbonation noted from the sound it makes while pouring and tiny effervescent bubbles during the session. Thick, long-lasting white head is typical from the use of sorghum in normal barley-based beers. I assume this to have a profound effect on head retention in an all sorghum beer. Color is brightly golden orange with moderate haze. Wet looking or oily lacing. Unfiltered.
Flavor: Strong blend of fruity and sour fermentation characteristics supported very minimally by a sweet sorghum flavor. After tasting a small sweetness, I had to make sure that sorghum can provide some of this character and I believe it does. Nonetheless, the sweetness is dominated by acidic fruitiness of lemon and orange zest. Bitterness is generally spicy. I detected a faint solventy or alcoholic flavor but this could have been accentuated or confused with its distinct phenolic character. Very sour and balanced more towards the bitterness and fermentation.
Mouthfeel: Lightly bodied with a warm, prickly alcohol. Prickliness may be more from the strong acidity, which helps give a perception of balance to the dry finish.  Very highly carbonated, also aiding to the crisp, dry finish. Its light body has an interesting watery and oily texture that counteract each other but still allow for easy drinking. Moderate degree of puckering or astringency - from phenols or acidity? As the beer warms, it becomes more fruity, sour, and phenolic in both flavor and mouthfeel.
Overall Impression: I was very impressed with the Celia firstly because it was a great representation of the base style, Saison, and secondly because it was simply a terrific beer for my first gluten-free experience. I wanted to think of it as a Saison and compare to other competing barley beers. The result is it matched up very well. Perfect for the summer sun to come. This one caught my eye at Healthy Living Market in South Burlington.

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