Monday, June 23, 2014

Southern Tier Grand Arbor

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (1115) - Albany, New York, USA - JUN 23, 2014
I split a 750ml bottle with a friend. We each poured it in into tulip glasses. It was bottled on 12/4/13 and cost $9.99 ($0.39 per ounce).

Appearance: Dark gold/light orange hue. Fairly hazy, but translucent with visible carbonation. Pours to a large, white, frothy head which mostly settles but never dissipates and leaves lacing on the glass.

Smell: Strong citrus aroma, especially lemon peel. Some dry pepper and distinct Belgian yeast esters.

Taste: Southern Tier is a brewery known for making American-style beers, so it’s interesting to see them taking on a traditional Belgian/French style in the form of a saison. Though “Grand Arbor” is a little bigger than most, plus it’s brewed with locally-sourced maple syrup to give it distinctiveness.

Up front there’s a light sweetness akin to orange sherbet. Lemon pith also seems to be quite noticeable, imparting some fruit flavor and a hint of candy. At the apex, it turns on a dime into something much drier as a surge of spiciness comes rushing in. Crushed black pepper, tart orange juice and a familiar Belgian yeast character all create for a strong drying sensation which absorbs all the moisture from the mouth. The maple syrup isn’t really present in the taste, which is understandable since the yeast eats most of it, though there is a subtle brown or caramelized sugar note if you really pay attention. There’s some citrusy hop taste and minor bitterness as it finishes and finishes off the palette in the only logical way possible. Personally, I prefer juicier saison, but this is one of the best of the dry spectrum I’ve had.

Drinkability: I was expecting a beastly brew considering this weighs in at 8% ABV, but Southern Tier Grand Arbor was quite light on its feet. Certainly robust with a full body, though there’s no alcohol warmth or taste anywhere to be found. The mouthfeel is, not surprisingly, quite bubbly with a dry aftertaste; though it’s actually quite refreshing while crossing the tongue. Strange that this was released in the winter as it works much better as a summer seasonal. 
Grade: 8/10

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