Saison Vautour | McKenzie Brew House

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Saison VautourSaison Vautour
102 Ratings
Saison VautourSaison Vautour

Brewed by:
McKenzie Brew House
Pennsylvania, United States

Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Belgian style farmhouse ale balances a bold, spicy yeast character with a dry hoppiness. A significant addition of malted rye adds further complexity without betraying the styles roots.

GABF gold medal winner 2007, 2009 and 2010.

Draft/growler reviews should go here -

Added by tempest on 10-22-2007

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 102 |  Reviews: 49
Photo of Jwale73
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle generously shared by Thirstybird. Bottle 145 of 372. Pours a golden-orange with a semi-hazy clarity and no head, just a cluster of bubbles. Nose exhibits that classic farmhouse musty, skunky, funk characteristic of Belgian exports, but often missing in domestic offerings. There's also a citrus quality that permeates the nose. Taste expresses citrus, vinegary funk, peaches, apricots and a minty character. Mouthfeel is light-medium with some citrus astringency and a lively, crisp carbonation. Finish is semi-dry to dry. Perhaps one of the best domestic Saisons I've had to date. This beer truly epitomizes all of the qualities that the Belgians have mastered.

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Photo of jrallen34
4.26/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 750ml bottle, 44 of 372, thanks to Sean, poured into my Hill Farmstead glass... Murky honey gold body, semi-transparent. Head is a bright off white, watery and light, not much retention or lacing... Outstanding aroma, very funky floral muskyness, some nice brett... Taste has some nice things going, this is a musky sour brett saison, not sweetness, makes no bones about it. Finish is tons of brett.

Crushable musky saison, well worth trying.

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Photo of Sean9689
4.05/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle, #44/372, poured into Bruery tulip.

A - Pours a slight hazy golden yellow, off-white head, some bubbles along the edge of the glass, some whisps here and there as the cap.

S - Belgian yeast funk, lots of floral notes, some sweetness.

T - Loads of funk, some oak, nice rose pedal notes/floral.

M - Light to medium, smooth, light carbonation, semi-dry finish.

D - A solid Saison, but after 4 in a row, Hill Farmstead Anna is the clear winner for me out of them all. I would def have again, and I will, because I have another bottle in the cellar. Recommend.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.22/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Mike. Bottle 39/372

BRETT BOMB! and it feels so nice.

Beer is yellow with low carbonation but forms a soft white head of small bubbles, minimal lacing, slightly hazy.

Whoa...Brett c anyone? Funky lactic nose. What a saison.

Beer is strong with the funk, weak on the lead off but the mid and late palates are interesting. There is a series of different funk flavors from the brett in this one all leading up to the finish, mildly dry, light bitterness. It was fun to drink for sure.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.42/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to G311 for getting me this bottle. Bottle 39/372 from the most-recent release served in a snifter.

Pours a nice golden-yellow color with some visible carbonation and a nice white head. a bit of lacing on the dies of the glass. The nose brings a really fantastic Brett presence with a bit of mild Band-aid presence in the background, though in a good way. Really quite earthy as well. The taste is along similar lines with a great funky Brett character as well as some light citrus character. The body is medium with a really dry finish. Extremely drinkable.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.34/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From 01/22/11 notes. Thanks to Thorpe429 for sharing this one; thanks Mike! Bottle 39 of 372.

a - Pours a murky golden color with one inch of white head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of sour apples, yeast, spice, brett, lemon, and citrus. Amazing nose. Some definite funkiness from the brett and sour fruit, mixing with citrus.

t - Tastes of spices, yeast, sour fruit and apples, funk, and brett.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation, pretty nice.

d - A very nice saison with brett. I thought the nose on it was amazing and it was very drinkable. Would love to have again.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.49/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Thorpe429. Thanks Mike!

Bottle 39 of 372

A: This saison appears a hazy yellow hue with a half inch of white, fluffy head. The head falls away to a thin layer after a few minutes, leaving a thin sheet of lacing on the glass.

S: Stunning aroma! This beer smells simply fantastic. Funky and wild, similar to a Belgian lambic, I could take in this scent all day. Citrus, floral and spice notes linger behind the funk, creating a delectable bouquet of scents. Very enticing indeed.

T: While the beer tastes rather delicious, it doesn't quite measure up to the phenomenal aroma. The funky, wild aspect is more subdued in the flavor. Citrus, earth, light funk, and subtle spice comprise the basic makeup of the flavor profile.

M: The body is a bit thin and the feel is just slightly too watery - a minor flaw in an otherwise fabulous beer.

D: A pleasant surprise. What a terrific beer. Highly recommended.

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Photo of Jmoore50
3.48/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle 31/372. Very interesting take on a great style. I will be honest, took me a while to get used to this one.

The appearance is a nice golden color with a light haze. Poured slow and gentle into my glass the beer produces a dense, white, fluffy head that stays for a good while. When I started to make my way through the beer the lacing was beautiful, just gripped the sides of my glass.

The smell was interesting and owned a bouquet of different floral notes. Strong hints of musty cellar coming from the Brett, with a lemon grass and spiced rye in the background. Not sure if it's the base beer or what it could be, but it has some really funky smells including wet cellar, must, lemon, orange rind.

I personally like my saisons dry with lots of floral notes. Sometimes a Brett laced version comes around and surprises me with how tasty it is. This just had an almost lemon-lactic sourness to it that I couldn't get into. Nice light biscuit malt flavor with a touch of spice. Flavors kind of going everywhere not melding very well, interesting palate teaser.

With the different sourness', musty Bretts, and spicy malts, this thing was a bit of a mouthfeel disaster. It wasn't offensive in any way but I was a bit confused by everything going on. I decided by the end that it was too much lemon sourness mixed with the dry and spicy flavors that I didn't care for.

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Photo of stakem
3.85/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes taken 12/11/10, shared at ClockworkOrange's tasting. Bottle #120/372

Poured into a snifter, this brew appears a light hazy golden yellow color. A yellowish stained head appears and sticks with a webbing of lace around the glass and top of this brew. Somewhat poor retension, a swirl revives a quickly dissolving cap.

The aroma of this brew is very lemony, lactic and brett'd. The typical classic style saison scents of barnyard funk come through more as the beer warms. It has a light sulfur quality that leans towards a strange scent that is almost plastic-like.

The taste mimics the aroma with a full throttle taste of seemingly artificial lemon, lactic acidity, Brett, funk and a moderate oily bitterness from clingy hops. The aftertaste is somewhat plastic-like. A dry tannic aftertaste comes out once this brew gets warm.

This is a light bodied brew with a lower than expected level of carbonation. Somewhat watery at times in the feel. It is however, light refreshing and easy drinking for 7% abv. There is seemingly no indications of alcohol in flavor or warmth. I'm not sure about this particular experience/bottle, it is worth trying again though.

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Photo of Jayli
4.28/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Acquired from G311 via Nobody Wants to See A Beer Geek Naked 3 so a big THANK YOU goes out to him.
750mL with gold waxed cap poured in to my Brooklyn tulip.

A: This beer pours a beautiful, hazy deep straw, golden yellow with a two finger of white sudsy, rocky head. Head retains nicely leaving a fair amount of spotted lacing on the glass.

S: Nose is citrus - grapefruit, and lemon, with a real hearty grassy, earthy backbone. Spicing and funk are also present.

T: Taste starts with a touch of pepper spicing that quickly lends to a touch of lemony flavoring. Brett, hay and funk fill out the middle. Finish has a crazy grapefruit flavoring that hits the back of your mouth. It seems to hang for a moment and then completely disappear.
** As this beer gets warmer, the grapefruit bite lessens and the hay and funk really come through. Flavors on this beer are complex and fantastic - enjoyed seeing how this beer changed as it warmed.

M: Lighter side of medium body, medium carbonation, nice light feel with a bone dry finish.

D: Goes down easily, pretty tasty, not too filling, nice kick and nice representation of style.

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Photo of 321jeff
4.43/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a beautiful slightly hazy bright gold color with a finger worth of eggshell white head. Looks like a good saison should.

They weren't kidding when they said this batch was funkier than the rest. Aroma is lots of funk and there are some hints of oak and red wine in the background.

The wine barrels really come through in the flavor and meld well with the base saison. The finish is dry and nicely offsets the rest of the beer.

Medium in body and a little light on carbonation but it's very smooth and goes down way too easy.

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4.97/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

750mL bottle to tulip. 2009 version with Brett. "Blonde Farmhouse-Style ale brewed with rye" inscribed on the label.

A: Enormous pop upon cracking the gold wax dipped cap. The head pours with 4 fingers of fluffy/foamy bright white head becoming rocky as it recedes incredibly slow. The body is a pale, creamy, light colored orange, hazy, with a 90% opacity. Fair to good lacing. Great look.

S: Average malts of of hay, straw and lightly toasted grain. Meyer lemon scented hops stand out above a beautiful floral bouquet. Heavily yeasty with a pronounced brettanomyces character. Lightly funky. The barnyard aromas becoming even more prevalent on the second pour. The third pour becomes very funky with slight sulfuric notes. Quite a dynamic aroma.

T: Additional yeast derived fruity esters present flavors of apple and a very light bubblegum (think Extra, pink pack). The flavor duration is long with a perfect and mild sweetness from front to mid palate. Lightly acidic all the way through. The addition of rye may add to the depth of this beer, but it goes by unnoticed. While I don't miss it, I wouldn't dare recommend changing a thing about the recipe.

M: The body is medium full with a minerally texture. Perfectly effervescent with a fizzy and lively carbonation. Moderately tart and sour.

D: There is absolutely no improvement to be made. In my mind, this is THE perfect saison.

Read the notes section on [BAs] Saison Vatour's main page...Brett version is only in bottles. And I didn't find the draft version to be nearly as impressive.

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Photo of Ineedabeerhere
4.22/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Andrew! Shared last night with Jeffthecheff.

Gold waxed bottle, had two tulips ready but wasn't prepared when the bottle started foaming over just instants after applying pressure to the cap. Lost about an ounce or so, no big deal. Pours with tons of foam, surprisingly clear on initial pour, golden straw color. Clouded up a bit in subsequent pours. Huge white head, good rocky retention, not a ton of lace.

Aroma is nice, not what I expected at all, but it's great. Nice balance of spiciness in the form of pepper and yeast character, combining with a brighter twang of lemon. There's no real hearty funk going on, but it does have a certain wildness to it. Definitely some complexity here in the form of straw-like grittiness on top of the crackery malts. The taste is much of the same but is so surprisingly fruity. There's a really interesting berry note and cherry ? Yes, cherry in the finish. Really interesting, unique saison that I would more than welcome trying again in the future.

Edit: Just wanted to add that Courtney thought it smelled like "hot mustard on kielbasa but just the skin".

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Photo of womencantsail
4.47/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Don't know what happened to my review of this. I'm 99% sure that I had put it on here, but apparently not. From notes.

Thanks to Richard for sharing and to Michael for sending a couple of these my way as well.

A: The pour is a slightly hazed golden straw color with a massive white head that clings to the glass.

S: A very nice earthy aroma to this beer providing some grass and hay notes. Lightly sweet malts with a bit of a cracker thing going on. A touch of fruitiness, but certainly some lemon zest that is very pleasing.

T: This one starts out with a very light tartness (of the lemon variety). Grass, hay, and leather give this beer a fantastic earthy character and really dry it out. A hint of of spice (white pepper) and a bready malt base completes this one.

M: The body is medium with plenty of carbonation and a very dry finish.

D: Just fantastic stuff. Glad to have an extra one of these sitting at home.

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Photo of Arbitrator
4.43/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Chilled bottle into a glass. Shared by chswimmer (le Ted est mort... vive le Ted!) and later by chcfan. Thanks, guys.

A: Pours a murky straw-colored body. I can't tell if that's sediment capture or if the beer is just unfiltered. The head is magnificent; it fills the tulip off a normal pour, and it retains well, slowly retreating and depositing lace down the sides.

S: A small earthy / hay funk. For the longest time we debated over whether this was just a yeast aroma or if it was bottled with brett. I believe the latter. Slight leather, apricot, lemon, peach. Just exquisite on the nose. The only drawback is a light rubberiness. (EDIT: MasterSki alerted me to the fact that the beer is indeed bottled with brett. Thanks.)

T: Great tropical fruit notes of pineapple, passionfruit. Peach, apricot, lemon zest; it progresses into bretty territory in the finish with leather, hay. It's drier than the nose implied; still good, though not as satisfying as the aroma. A touch of pepper in the finish. As noted in the nose, there's just a touch of solvent.

M: Semi-dry, with velvety carbonation. It brings out the funky finish quite a bit.

D: Great saison! Must get more of this.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.47/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to BrewerDan23 for this one. Served in my Kuhnhenn tulip glass. No obvious year, but it had gold wax - guessing it's 2009?

A - Pours with three fingers of off-white foam that settles to a thick cap and leaves spotty lacework. Hazy peach body.

S- Big bretty pineapple and tropical notes, funk, must, citrus and stone fruits, rye malt that adds some spice as the beer warms up. There's a touch of estery alcohol as well, but it's not harsh or fusel. Wonderfully rich and intense.

T - Taste has more grass, herbs and spices, citrus zest, and light brett sourness. Not quite as intense as the nose, and a little less sweet as well. Still quite good.

M - Medium body that is sufficient for 7%. Slight carbonation tingle, soft body, no heat, and a satisfying dry finish. This is pretty much what I want from the style.

D - This was quite excellent, and I filled my glass a few times even after polishing off a Headhunter growler earlier. I may have to trade for more of this as it's in the top handful of Saisons I've ever had.

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Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Nellie and thirdeye11 for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a hazy yellow color with a white head. The aroma is lemons and wheat. The flavor is yeast, lemons and wheat and is slightly tart. Very drinkable and refreshing. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

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Photo of JAXSON
4.03/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 bottle. Bottled with brett according to the brewer, unlike the draft version. Pours medium orange with a fluffy snow white head and decent legs, good retention. Really pretty looking beer. Served cold, nose is big saison yeast, distinctively McKenzie. Definitely a touch bretty, stays cohesive. Very nice flavor profile, starts with some mellow saison yeast and brett, opens into a light banana fruitiness, on to grass and mild hops. One of the more cohesive McKenzie beers for sure. These guys were kind of starting to annoy me a little bit with some flabby beers that just didn't evolve right, but this is quite a nice effort.

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Photo of largadeer
4.47/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Chswimmer shared this one a while back. Thank you, Craig.

Cloudy, yeasty blond with a nice fluffy white head, signature saison appearance.

Really nice aroma, spicy and lemony, grainy and hoppy, yeasty and funky. Hard to tell if there's a mild brett character or if the saison yeast used to ferment this is just really intense.

On the palate there's some fruity sweetness up front, reminiscent of apples, pears and lemons. There's plenty of peppery spice too, and a little bubblegum. Medium in body, lightly tart and grainy with a moderate hop bitterness in the finish and a hint of orange peel and earth. Pretty damn good, this one really surprised me.

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Photo of nickd717
4.47/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle thanks to chswimmer.

Pours hazy golden-yellow with a nice lasting one-finger white head and good lacing.

Very funky, bretty, and a little tart on the aroma. Lemony with lots of horseblanket.

Flavor has pale malt, tart lemoniness, and lots of barnyard horseblanket. Some mild hops and rye. Seems like there's definitely some brett in there.

Medium-bodied with lively carbonation and a little acidity.

Really good stuff overall. Surprising.

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Photo of illidurit
3.76/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy goldenrod color with a crazy huge dense head that leaves massive lacing. Aroma is light banana pith and grains, with a hint of orange peel and a mild metallic note. Flavor is a nice banana/vanilla sweetness with an earthy character midpalate that includes mineral and grass notes. Finish is peppery with a light booziness. Bitterness is substantial.

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Photo of oglmcdgl
4.23/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

15 oz pour into a unibroue glass at capones in norristown, pa.

A- two big fingers of white foam atop a golden orange brew. Nice spotty lace on the way down.

S- very fruity with mangos, pineapple and some citrus. slightly sweet malts and some grassy hops.

T- tart and funky very nice. Lots grassy herbal hops and grapefruit rind. Spices and rye like malts. I get some wood but I'm not sure if this ever saw any.

M- medium body and about the same in carb. Mild pucker and nice and dry.

D- I really like this stuff. A very big and bold saison and it works super well with some mussels.

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Photo of msubulldog25
4.57/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 750ml, one with a thin veil of sparkling golden wax encasing the cap; 'October 2009' dated. Split to a pair of tulip glasses and matched (superbly) with a spicy bool kogi/bok choy/mushroom/onion dish served over rice. Happy Mothers Day.

A: After uncapped, a rising gusher of fizzing white foam. Even filled carefully, each glass sports a massive pile of whitish cream (2+ fingers) that lingers for minutes and leaves thick dollops of scattered lace. Lightly hazy golden, not much carbonation and quite a bit of bottom-dwelling chunkiness. I guess the look is 'rustic' and that's a fine look indeed.

S: The fact that the foam slowly spilled from the bottleneck before pouring meant the sink wafted a magical scent of spiced honey, plump fruit, hay/grass.

T: Excellent spiced bread dough, black pepper and earthy ground herbs. Just enough brettanomyces 'funkiness'; a dry spice that ends with a bit a candied sweetness (apple, tart-ish pear) amidst a cluster of herbal bitters. Not quite sure how the rye in the recipe affects the flavors, but my guess/gut says it's spicier and drier than it would be with all wheat or another grain. Flavors in waves, complex notes with every sip.

M: Creamy feel and a body that tops what I'd call 'medium' (but not quite full) and a tingly effervescence just starts to build when a sudden mellowness softens. Despite a 7% alcohol, only the mildest alcohol warmth.

D: Just a wonderful beer, among the biggest 'wows' of 2010. So fun to drink and such a 'disappointment' that my wife liked this as much (if not more!) as me - meaning she got AT LEAST half the bottle. Oh well, when she loves a beer as much as me, that bodes really well for a high score. Let's cut to the chase and give it the '5' Saison Vautour deserves...

HUGE thanks to jyoungsbcp - Josh, more please?!?!? I thought Sly Fox's Saison VOS (oddly, also from SEPA) was my favorite US-made saison...I think we may have a new leader in the clubhouse...

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Photo of weeare138
4.59/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The bottled versions of this beer are dosed with brett.
Lightly haze of gold with small white head that sticks around for a while. Scatered bits of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of caramel, citrus, wet hay, vanilla, gently roasted grains, earthiness, barnyard, and a hint of dry, slightly tart rye.
Flavor is of the mentioned aromas with a beautiful taste citrus, caramel, spice, and vanilla cream. Beautiful beer.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, chewy, dry, and spicy. This is such a cool beer. I could drink this one all night.

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Photo of yourefragile
4.6/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 mL gold wax dipped bottle, "October 2009" printed on label. Apparently this is the batch that won Gold at GABF in Belgian/French Saison, which is different than the version on tap or the 2007 Gold winning version. Description states it contains "25% rye-based saison with German Tradition hops and French Stisselspalt" and was also bottled with a little of brett.

Appearance is a translucent gold with a slight orangish hue. Large fluffy white head that is supported by a steady stream of bubbles and leaves thin sticky wall of lacing. Aroma is dominated by a funky, brett aroma, barnyard and horse blanket like. Underneath the funkiness as the beer warms up is a sweeter, more citrus aroma, with coriander and other spices. Mouthfeel throughout is medium-full, with soft carbonation resulting in an effervescent body. Finish is very clean and dry. Flavor is immediately sweet, citrus and honey like, before being balanced by an earthy spiciness and mild brett funk. Very complex, pleasant balance of flavors, though slightly sweeter than expected for the style. There is some mild spiciness, but I'm not sure I detect any of the rye. Overall, a very nice saison, definitely worth seeking out, but I'm mildly disappointed that this isn't the same as the version regularly available on tap (though I haven't tried that yet to tell the difference).

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Saison Vautour from McKenzie Brew House
Beer rating: 4.24 out of 5 with 102 ratings