By Iron Chef Leftovers
The September Mountainbeer pair from NW Peaks was fun – a kolsch and a saison, two styles which are gaining in popularity, and two styles that Mrs. Iron Chef happens to like. She was happy when I mentioned to her that our NW Peaks tasting would consist of those 2 beers.
From the NW Peaks website:
The name. The mountain. The enchantments are a string of alpine lakes just outside of Leavenworth. Permits for camping here are arguably the most sought after permits in the area, with good reason. Enchantment Peak is one of the mountains that surround the valley. What sets this mountain apart is obviously the setting, not the climb. As a climb it’s a nice scramble from prussik pass, but atop, it gives a birds eye view of the enchantment basin below.
The beer. Enchantment ale is a saison, a style that is categorized as a ‘farmhouse ale.’ Indeed, there are (musty?) notes of straw and hay reminiscent of walking through a farm. But these styles also have a nice fruity notes (apple and pear), with a slight perception of sweetness. Using a cousin to the Belgian yeasts, these beers ferment dry and somewhat spicy. Enchantment ale is a nice example of the basic style. We started with an average specific gravity but let it ferment very dry resulting in a higher alcohol content than most of our mountainBeers. We also added some grains of paradise adding to the spicy complexity on top of the other defining characteristics. Simply enchanting.
Original gravity: 1.054. Finishing gravity: 1.002. ABV 6.8% – enjoy with some friends over dinner.
The beer pours pale yellow in color with notes of lemon, hay and farmhouse yeast. The beer starts out very light, almost imperceptible, before building in flavor. First comes notes of very mild yeast then a louder grain component before reaching a crescendo with a slightly funky lemon plateau that seems to linger and build upon itself well into the next sip. The funk is more subdued than many saisons, but the beer has a great progression of flavor and character and more balance than most saisons I have tried. The high alcohol is completely unnoticeable in this beer. The beer is light enough to please those who love a mild beer, but complex enough to please an advanced beer drinker.
NW Peaks Enchantment Saison charms the pants off of drinkers with a strong 3 Prince Charming’s out of 5.
On a related note, we enjoyed this on a night where we shared a pot of Belgian Beef Carbonnade with spatzle with AJ Coltrane and Annie S. Somewhere in Europe; many people are turning over in their graves – Belgian style stew over German style pasta served with a French style beer.