Review: Low Life Barrel House Tempestarii New World Saison


Back in June, I received a text message from a friend who was visiting Barn Hammer Brewing for an after-work pint with their coworkers, they asked me "have you ever heard of Low Life? They have it on tap here." Nope, while at the time I was still the resident beer geek over at the Brandon Sun, I never heard of Low Life Barrel Works, but then again.. I was never told about several up-and-coming breweries in Manitoba anyways as I tend to get a bit too giddy and end up blabbing it out.. my fault.

Fast forward to the end of September, I'm in Winnipeg driving to Barn Hammer from the Quality Inn Beer Store, I receive a phone call from an employer that told me I didn't get a job.. a job that I honestly felt like I was going to get, something that was much more aligned with my actual university degree than my work history. Arriving at Barn Hammer, I was greeted by the always awesome head brewer Brian Westcott, but I was less than happy to be there after the news I just got, but Brian was excited to see me so my anxiety flushed body calmed down just a tad as soon as Brian was telling me about everything they're working on at Barn Hammer.

I saw the "Low Life Barrel House" sign to the right of the Barn Hammer beer tap list so I just had to ask him about it. My mind was still pretty washed out because of the anxiety I just experienced but he told me that Low Life was a small barrel aged and wild yeast-focused brewery located inside the Barn Hammer space but separate from Barn Hammer themselves, but that said - himself and Tyler (among others I believe) are co-owners of the brewery so of course they have ties to Barn Hammer either way.

That day, I sampled their IPA version of their Blood Cut Ale - it was mildly hoppy, sour and had a decent amount of Bretty funkiness to it.. this is something I've been dying to see in Manitoba since I got back from Vermont in January, 2016. Today, I noticed on the Liquor Mart website that Low Life's Tempestarii New World Saison is available in Brandon.. I had to pick it up (alongside La Brasserie Nonsuch's Honey Oat Saison) because my body absolutely craves Saisons right now.

Tempestarii is a Saison that is foeder aged, dry hopped with notes of tart cherry and contains Brettanomyces yeast. 8.1% ABV

Appearance: The first thing I noticed about this Saison is that it definitely has that cherry sour sort of appearance to it - it's got a caramelly reddish hue that's not hazy but not clear either. There's a very light amount of carbonation in the body, while the head is a moderate greyish beige that diminishes pretty quickly to leave behind a bit of lacing but only has a very slim amount of bubbly action on top of the beer.

Aroma: I'm getting a few different things in this beer - there's a moderate sweet yet slightly sour cherry aroma here, a definite grassy hop profile to it, and then there's notes that I don't think anyone else will likely experience in this beer - notes of Chai tea and cinnamon.. for some reason I definitely get cinnamon in this beer, but others likely won't. The Brett pops up but it's not overly aggressive like in sours I'd see from Quebec or New England, rather it has a mild funkiness, a bit of a (pleasant) buttery creaminess to it, oak, lemon, red wine and bubble gum at the very end.

Taste: Sweet cherry pops up right at the beginning, but not really giving off a tart cherry presence that I've seen in most cherry beers I've had lately. The beer has a mild Brett funkiness to it that's a bit barny but light-to-mild at best, a bit of a lemony sourness to it, grassy hops, a bit of bubble gum and a nice candi sugaresque sweetness at the end that reminds me a bit of the Saisons that I fell in love with nearly ten years ago.

Overall Thoughts: There was a point in my life where I didn't understand wild yeast/Brett beers, to the point that I said "why the hell would anyone want to drink this?!" My bièrcation with Jonny to Vermont in January 2016 changed that completely.. I finally understood why people drank beers that taste like a farm. This one is quite a bit lighter than the stuff I was drinking in Vermont back in 2016, but this is something I definitely would have enjoyed back then as it's not overly funky and not in your face like others. Brian was the one who brewed one of the very first non-Unibroue/Half Pints Saisons I ever tried in my life while he was brewing over at Alley Kat in Alberta so I'm glad to see him finally making a Saison here in Manitoba. I definitely will be buying this again.

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