Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review - Driftwood Cuvee D'Hiver

I'm always excited when a new beer from Driftwood comes out on the market. Driftwood's beers are always well crafted, well presented and well thought out, and even when they aren't my favourite I can respect them for being great examples of their style. When I heard their new beer would be a farmhouse ale, or saison, I was over the moon.

The saison may be my favourite style of beer. The beer historian Randy Mosher calls it the "beer of heavenly balance," the kind of beverage that would be on hand "when you get done mowing the lush green lawn that coats the cloud tops all over heaven." A fine saison has a delicate balance between all its elements, and I often find that the words to describe it escape me. With excitement I poured a tall glass of Driftwood's newest brew, the Cuvee D'Hiver.

The Cuvee D'Hiver, or winter batch, is made from grain that is grown and malted on the Saanich Peninsula. Its yeast, that Driftwood describes as "one of the most unique Belgian... strains in existence," is rumoured to be that used in the famous Saison Dupont. Its colour is of straw gold with a white head that quickly fades from the glass. I was surprised by the aroma, that carried only a faint trace of fruit with none of the European hop character common with the style. True to the saison however, it had a light to medium body and was highly effervescent. The flavour also surprised me; it was lightly fruity with little else to distinguish it. Its finish carried the signature dryness of a saison but lacked much bitterness. In general, this beer's hopping rate seemed low for a farmhouse ale. The Cuvee D'Hiver is refreshing and drinkable, and I do recommend it if that is what you are in the market for, but overall it seemed somewhat plain. I feel it lacks that certain je ne sais quoi magic that I find so captivating about a great saison.

Rating: Good

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