Dark Heather Saison
New Belgium Brewing Company

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Farmhouse Ale - Saison
3.86 | pDev: 9.33%
New Belgium Brewing Company
Colorado, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Reviews: 25 | Ratings: 34 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of GarrettB
GarrettB from Colorado

3.99/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

New Belgium’s Heather Saison is the taste of the Rocky Mountains, sampled in the middle of a summer where I’ve finally learned to fall in love with the geology to my immediate West, and embrace the smells of the forest and the sweat of a good hike. New Belgium’s Dark Heather Saison is earthy and planty, eschewing hops in favor of scents like dry pine needles, a shade of heather, and most prominently (and deliciously) black pepper. I even detect some hickory smoke, which together with the black pepper conjure images of decadent cuts of meat casting plumes of smoke into the Rocky Mountain air as they cook. The flavor inherits all of these toothsome flavors, adding a subtle sweet note most similar to overripe blueberries, or even caramelized carrots. The flavor is awash with these deep earth flavors; this beer is dark but not brooding, and caters to a drinker looking for refreshment but deep, straightforward flavors that one might find around a campsite.

Aug 25, 2011
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ChainGangGuy from Georgia

3.18/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 ounce pour - $6.00 at Trappeze in Athens, Georgia.

Appearance: Served up a clear, very dark brown body with garnet-hinted edges and capped with a dusky, ivory-head head.

Smell: There's a lively dark fruitiness and spicy-scented cardamom aroma in the fore with lesser, servile notes of dark bread, milk chocolate, and heather honey in the background.

Taste: Introduction of sweet dark malts with tastes of pumpernickel, dark caramel, and chocolate which turns largely fruity, with a gulp of plum juice, but there's also a bit of banana and tart berries in there as well. Jutting insertion of spicy cardamom and herbal, floral tones from the heather tips. For me, cardamom is one of those 'less is more' spices, though, sadly, I find it less than subtle in this brew. A skosh more chocolate. Finishes dry, spicy, and a bit heavy.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium carbonation. Smooth mouthfeel, loitering on the palate.

Drinkability: Well, it's definitely not your everday saison, I'm sure we can all amiably agree on that. Personally, I'm just not diggin' it and I couldn't find the cohesion between the beer and its smothering spice additions.

Nov 29, 2010
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Tone from Missouri

3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, dark amber color. 1/4 inch head of an off-white color. Good retention and great lacing. Smells of sweet malt, spices, herbs, slight citrus, and a hint of hop. Fits the style of a Saison / Farmhouse Ale. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of sweet malt, hint of ginger, slight other spices, hint of wheat, and slight hops. Overall, a great blend, good body, and good aroma.

Nov 07, 2010
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avalon07 from South Carolina

3.97/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a growler to a pint glass. Had a ruby color and a clear consistency. There was a half inch of foamy, fairly long-lasting head. Good lacing.

S: A surprisingly fruity aroma - more so than other saisons. ALso had traces of malt and that typical funk.

T: Tasted of malt, light fruit, spices (pepper among them) and some esters. An interesting flavor that's not classically like a saison.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a slick finish. Medium-bodied.

D: This is kind of an oddball beer, but it's somehow quite drinkable.

Nov 01, 2010
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atsprings from North Carolina

4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Flying Saucer served in a tulip glass a dark stout like black with a thin diminishing khaki head. Aroma is toasted malts with spices such as clove and pepper. The taste is slightly roasted malts with a smooth amount of clove and heather. The beer is very smooth and crisp for one so dark. A very unique and enjoyable beer, one I'd love to have again.

Aug 31, 2010
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AgentZero from Illinois

3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - A very dark brown saison, very dark. Fluffy white head.

S - Lots of spice and a bit more malt that I was expecting from a saison. Truth was, I didn't know this was a saison until later. Floral notes and some heather does come through. Smells pretty solid.

T - On a night of bad beers this ended up being one of the better ones I had. Spice, sweetness, earthy tones, all blend together fairly well, but this is definately an unusual saison, particularly with a lasting sweetness versus a grassy one for more normal ones.

M - Medium bodied and feels a bit more full than a typical saison.

D - Not bad, I enjoyed this beer, and wouldn't mind drinking it again to get a better handle on it.

Jun 26, 2010
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Halcyondays from California

4.27/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

"Tell her to reap it with a sickle of leather
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
And gather it all in a bunch of heather
Then she'll be a true love of mine" - Simon & Garfunkel

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours a dark brown with a poofy white head, good retention, some heavy lace.

S: Flowers, heather, very herbal.

T: Some dark malt, but the flavour is dominated by the heather and herbal flavour. Saison-like with the yeast character, pepper, and earthy hops, but a very interesting take on the style. Dark saison isn't something you see everyday.

M: Creamy, light-bodied/thin overall, but quite smooth.

D: This has a great flavour and is really enjoyable. Any fan of Froach Heather Ale will enjoy this, the flavour profiles obviously are quite similar.

Jun 10, 2010
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Domingo from Colorado

3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brought a growler of this home from NBB's brewery in Ft. Collins.
Pours a deep brown color that seems undercarbonated for an instant, but then forms a pretty respectable 1/2" head seemingly from nowhere. Looks like a brown ale at first glance.
The nose is where this one reveals itself. Peppery yeasts, sour citrus rinds, and spices come out right away. Not a huge nose, but definitely a revealing one.
The flavor profile is dark malty sweet up-front, but the spices and funkiness come out in the middle. Leather, pepper, and lemon peel are the main notes I get. The finish has a noble hop punch and a final hit of yeast that leaves me with a lingering corn flavor. Don't worry - I get that flavor from lots of Belgian yeast-based beers. This is one of those saisons that has a really bold flavor with lots of peppery yeasts that follows the Fantome model. The darker malts start each sip with a sweet flavor I enjoy, too. It's obscure, but the only comparison I can think of is the Van Diemen from Avery and Mountain Sun.
At 7.5% ABV, it's potent enough not to be something you'd down quickly, but it really doesn't show any boozy flavors. I find myself drinking it faster that I intend to with each glass.
Not bad at all. Unique, but still traditional in all of the right areas.
When NB sets out to do a Belgian style correctly, they almost always succeed. Hopefully this will continue.

May 25, 2010
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wnh from Missouri

3.62/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Farmers Gastropub in Springfield, MO. Served in a New Belgium snifter.

Pours a rich dark mahogany with a fleeting tan head.

Nose is interesting, herbal and spicy with a bit of caramelly maltiness underneath. I can only assume the herbal notes are heather, but never having smelled heather I can't say for sure. Spiciness comes across as cinnamon and clove, interesting but a bit strong, perhaps best set off by rich food. Follows suit on the palate.

Dry-ish, with mildly prickly carbonation. Interesting, though I can't say I'm a huge fan. Gets kind of heavy midway through the glass, so I'm glad it was a beer paired with food, since by itself it would probably be too much.

May 09, 2010
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rye726 from Colorado

3.83/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Trinity Brewing in Colorado Springs.

Pours a healthy brown with a tan head. Good lace. Nose has tropical fruits, wheat malts, cloves and peppery yeast. Taste follows suit, quite sweet. Body is a bit cloyig and not as crisp as I like to see.

Apr 05, 2010
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brokensail from California

3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On-tap at Churchill's

A: The pour is a dark brown with a sticky, fluffy off-white head.

S: The nose is highly floral and herbal, exhibiting the heather and cardamom quite well. There is also some light tartness to the nose, likely from the herbal ingredients.

T: There are a lot of different things going on in this beer. I, of course, pick up the herbal and floral tones, along with a distinct earthy quality. There is a bit of "spiciness" as well, and some sweet/sour contrast.

M: The body is medium with a smooth carbonation. Overall, the beer is perhaps a bit "heavy" for a Saison.

D: This is another one of those "interesting" beers. I was intrigued to see what new flavors I could find with each sip, but I don't know how much of this I could drink at one time.

Mar 27, 2010
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Mora2000 from Texas

4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on tap at the Draught House in Austin.

The beer pours a dark brown color with a white head. The aroma is very spicy with lots of notes that resemble cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Only later did I find out that the beer was spiced with cardamom, which explains the aromas that I got. The flavor is similar to the aroma with cardamom as well as a hint of smoke. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Mar 19, 2010
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birchstick from Colorado

4.03/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a NB Globe glass on tap at Dressel's Pub in St Louis

A - pours a dark brown with a fluffy head. I have never seen a saison this dark; actually, I have never seen a dark saison at all.

S - smells of funky earth tones and some some sweet malts

T - I got a lot of different things from this beer. The taste has a lot of earthiness and some funk, coupled with sweet, caramel malts. This also had some spices, vinegar, and a sugary, dark cola taste. Definitely a different type of saison, but it is very good.

M - medium bodied with a little bit of carbonation, making this very smooth.

D - this is an interesting take on a saison. I really enjoyed the dynamic range of flavors going on in this. One of the better NB brews I have had. I would definitely order this again if I see it on tap.

Mar 18, 2010
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ccrida from Oregon

4.47/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in the New Belgium goblet, Dark Heather Saison (they didn't specify the heather part at the pub, but I assume it's the same beer) is a very dark brown with a big fluffy, sand colored head that leaves great lace.

Smell is great, very nice tropical fruit esters and herbal hops (and apparently herbs as well, as though I wasn't aware of that at the time) I love this saison yeast strain, from Blaugies I'm assuming.

Taste is chocolaty, well complemented by the fruity yeast and minty hop spice. Well balanced, with some light phenols.

Mouthfeel is creamy, smooth and light, with a dryish finish.

Drinkability is great. This is a very tasty dark saison, light, smooth and refreshing. Very tasty.

Mar 16, 2010
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Reaper16 from Alabama

3.03/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

served on-tap @ Flying Saucer, Kansas City, MO into a New Belgium globe glass

Pours a perplexing color that, depending on the angle pf the glass held towards the light, appears to be brown, ruby or prune. There was barely 1 finger of mocha colored head but what was there seemed pretty tightly constructed. Iffy lacing however. Rates as above average because of the red/purple thing going on with the body.

This saison is pungent with peppercorn, heather, assorted brewing spices and assorted cooking spices. After a vigorous swirl I get some oddly bright notes. There is a tart & sweet element that reminds me of onions cooked in balsamic vinegar. True story. I picked up some tomato juice, too. Weird aroma.

I get the tomato juice and pepper right up front on the tongue. There is a sour back end that is not unlike New Belgium's La Folie, though this sourness is fleeting-- it isn't there after every swallow. This saison isn't funky, really. It brings a kiss of tartness along with some prune flavor and a dash of heather. Very spice-forward.

This has a light body and it doesn't have enough carbonation to cut through the veritable spice rack. All that spice flavor and the weird, fleeting tartness make for a beer that is hard to enjoy more than a glass of.

I don't think that the recipe I had was a successful saison. It is certainly unique and I can see merit in the concept. I wish the execution were better.

Mar 13, 2010
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weatherdog from Illinois

3.63/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served on tap in a New Belgium globe glass at Brixies in Brookfield Il

It poured a real dark brown with an almost brilliant white head with a little lacing coating the glass as the liquid level decreases/

The smell is that classic saison smell, peppery, a little lemon citrus fruit, yeasty. The dark malts used didn't really lend anything to the smell.

The taste is just has this huge pepper spice up front, much more than any other saisons I've ever had. In the background there is a nice subtle herbal notes. It could be heather but I couldn't say as I've never had it before. The darker malts used in this beer come into play now with a little roastiness. Overall the taste has this nice strong spicy bite that I prefer in a saison.

The mouthfeel and drinkability were fairly average. The dark malts that leave behind a little sweetness hamper the drinkability versus other saisons as i don't find it as refreshing as any of the others I've had.

Mar 01, 2010
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jwillcourt from Texas

3.84/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served on tap in a goblet pint.

A - Murky, dark, chestnut brown color with a ring of white foam. There is spotty foam consisting of very fine bubbles. Unremarkable lacing.

S - Has a predominantly herbal, earthy smell that I associate with saison but haven't yet found the words to describe in more detail. There is also a slight sweetness to the smell, and a clear but underlying cracked pepper aroma.

T - Initial sweet malt flavor, followed by fruity apple and grape flavors. There is also a peppery taste that was present in the smell. Slight, earthy hops emerge as it warms.

M - Medium body with light carbonation. It leaves a sticky feeling in the mouth and lips. The pepperiness is present in the mouthfeel too.

D - This was delicious and refreshing. Hides the alcohol really well. Would not have guessed 7.5%. I am not sure I would want too many of these in one sitting due to the sweetness and pleasant but assertive flavors.

Feb 25, 2010
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CMW from Missouri

3.23/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Poured a dark brown color with a small tan head head that faded very quickly. Some red highlights can be seen when this is held up to the light.

S - Dark fruits, various flowers, yeast, and various spices.

T - The main taste was the flowery/herbal flavor. There were several things working in the background like black pepper, yeast, and some dark fruits. However, the flowery taste trumped them all and was a little off-putting.

M - A little creamy than I would expect for most saisons but that wasn't bad.

D - Not sure I could drink another of these. While I love saisons, this wasn't my cup of tea.

Feb 14, 2010
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BBThunderbolt from Kiribati

3.74/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in pint goblet. Poured very dark brown, just barely translucent, with a very thin head that had minimal lacing.

The scent was very interesting. I found the scent to be earthy, musty and musky. Perhaps some grape notes.The taste was even more interesting, maybe I tasted grape pop, maybe root beer, Perhaps some spices I'm not familiar with.

The body was good, clean and smooth, with a clean finish. Drinkability was very good, but with all these different flavors battling for taste buds, your results may vary.

Overall, this is the most interesting brew I've ever had from this brewery. The word interesting is not always a complement. In this case it is. You should try this beer as soon as you can.

Feb 14, 2010
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brownbeer from Missouri

3.73/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Twilight Bar and Grille

Nothing about this beer looks or tastes Saison.
Dark red color without much head.

Flowery aroma with anise, belgian yeast, and light chocolate. A little bit Fantome-ish with the spice character.

Taste is anise, rosemary, heather?, I want to say spice rack. Dry, but not dry enough.

Unique beer that I won't miss if I never try it again.

Feb 13, 2010
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NStLincoln from Nebraska

3.82/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

On tap at Jake's Bar in Lincoln.

Poured a dark brown and sported a very nice 2 days in the sun tan head.

Smelled awesome. Like really good, fresh soil and white pepper with some malt to keep it grounded.

The taste was earthy and full. Lots going on. Some nuttiness and more white pepper that lent this beer a spicy kick.

Mouthfeel wasn't as thick as I had anticipated. Medium carbonation.

Dark Heather claims to be 6.2% ABV, but it seemed to pack more of a punch than that. Two pours was plenty for me.

Feb 12, 2010
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zeff80 from Missouri

3.97/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a clear, dark brown color with ruby highlights. It had a small, khaki colored head that left thin traces of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled earthy and floral with fruity notes. There was a mild spicy aroma.

T - It tasted earthy and malty with a fruity, yeasty kick. There was a mild spiced hop bite, too.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium-bodied beer with a dry finish.

D - This is an interesting and tasty beer. It's like a scotch ale blended with a saison.

Feb 11, 2010
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Riccymon from Texas

4.24/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on-tap at the Draught House pub, a rather dark hue with about half an inch of head. Smell is very herbal, yeasty, and earthy; it's beery, but pretty unique as far as saisons go, IMO. There's definitely a Belgian character present, but not one I've experienced before.

Taste has some hops present, but the herbal notes are most dominant, and had me thinking lavender. Again, this is clearly in the Belgian and saison vein. Very tasty, and with a smooth, substantial body, this beer was easy to drink. What I assume to be the heather flavor makes this pretty complex to me.

Glad I had the chance to try this one!

Feb 07, 2010
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wagenvolks from Texas

3.96/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Draught House, served in a New Belgium goblet.

Really a great-looking pour--far darker than most Saison's but that's okay by me. Appears a ruddy, dark brown in the dimness of the pub, but turns a burnt ruby hue when held to the light. Sticky lacing coats the glass from a well-retained tuft of taupe-khaki head. Not as impressive as I expected aroma-wise, which is unfortunate given the intricate spicing that went into this beer. However, it discernibly improves as it warms, delivering whiffs of herbal, flowery heather & hops backed by subtle notes of coffee, toffee, caramel, and nuttiness.

Definite improvement in flavor as Dark Heather warms, bringing notes of toasted chocolate malts, chestnut flour, and a spicy, earthy herbal profile. Unique and tasty--not an easy feat these days. Mouthfeel is tightly carbonated and on the dry side with a medium-light body...really complements the spices in the finish. New Belgium has produced yet another winner in their already-impressive Lips of Faith series. Dark Heather Saison might not appeal to everyone, but I'm glad I got the chance to try it so early in its inception. Recommended.

Feb 03, 2010
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jrallen34 from Illinois

4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I drank this on tap into a New Belgium chalice.

The beer is a dark amber with a very big nice tan head that has grea retention and lacing.

The aroma is light a lot of flowers, that's the heather, a little cardamon, and in general very similar to summer saison. At the end a little spicyness.

The taste is very smooth and balanced. Starts off very floral, a little bitter complexity then finishes with a touch of pepper.

The feel is nice and very drinkable.

Jan 30, 2010
Dark Heather Saison from New Belgium Brewing Company
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 34 ratings