Review: Granville Island Saison (tis the season for some saison!)

Review: Granville Island Saison (tis the season for some saison!) by Cody La Bière
The other day I felt that "I'm giving up on trying any new beers by Granville Island, they're honestly just watered down thanks to production being moved to the same factory where Rickard's is made.. it tastes more like a Rickards wannabe than anything else." Well.. now then there's today.. seeing this bomber of saison staring at me at the local LC.. it couldn't be as bad as the bad seasonals I've had from Granville.. it just couldn't be.

So what ya know, here I am about to crack one open and see how Granville Island's Saison beer, as part of their "Limited Release" brand of beers, compares to the rest of the GIB line of beers. It's a bit pricey compared to a 6er of GIB as the bomber was about $6.50 before tax for a 650ml bottle, compared to $11 and some change for a 6 pack of Granville standards.

Appearance: Compared to all the other beers I've ever had from Granville Island, I was expected to be disappointed, getting a watered down varient of a style of beer I like.. I was disproven for once. It pours a very hazy thick orange, almost as orange in appearance as a Rickard's White, which is abnormally orange.. but a saison generally is quite an orange looking beer anyways. Has minimal snow white head that just clings to the side of the glass.

Aroma: Another surprise from Granville Island: the aroma is actually attractive, it's a combination of orange peel, lemon, coriandre, floral notes and Belgian yeast - similar to the yeasts used for saisons like Blonde de Chambly and Half Pints Saison de la ceinture fléchée. Very passable!

Taste: Has a lot of a carbonated mouth feel that one expects when drinking a saison, more mellow in carbonation than Unibroue's Blonde de Chambly, slightly more creamy mouthfeel instead. Flavourwise, it reminds me more Half Pints' saison - the sweet notes are front and centre, it first comes off with (what appears to be) a squeeze of orange, followed by some lemon and coriandre. Overall, this is a very entertaining saison.

this farmer would've liked some saison during harvest!
Overall Thoughts: Granville Island's Saison has proven that they can make a really tasty beer when they actually try (and not water it down). The saison is very much compareable to my favourite saisons by Half Pints and Unibroue, and even beats them in certain aspects as a bit of a creamy mouth feel that brings less of a carbonated feel over most saisons. Quite a citrusy beer and hell.. I'm going to buy it again because it's actually tasty! Serious props to Granville Island's Vern Lambourne and team!

6.5% ABV, 30 IBU, 650mL bottle, $6.50 before tax, best served 7-12C, brewed to satisfy thirsty farm workers during late summer harvest - where was this beer when I was haying back in August? I could have used this to quench the thirst back then!


Brewmaster Dave said...

Any idea if this one was brewed at the micro-brewery on Granville Island vs. their production brewery in Kelowna?

One vs. the other might account for the fact that you actually sorta like this release. In my experience both are hit and miss, but the real GI beers tend to hit more often.

Cody Lobreau said...

Having discussions with several beer geeks who are close to the folks at Granville, they all stated the 341ml releases bound for out east (aka here) were at the Molson plant in town, while the bomber releases were all at the GIB brewery itself, I have no clue if it has any truth or not but it does happen (most popular one is Keith's at Columbia Brewery). I could SEE Molson/GIB's main idea for having production done at Molson: capacity and space.

Just talking to a friend who isn't a beer fan at all (just grew up in BC and liked their beer) stated that beer tasted completely different (the Lion's Ale) than back home.

I did sort of like this release, I expected a really watered down Saison, like how they did their hefe back in the summer.. too watered down, but was surprised none-the-less.