Remember when you’d go to a fast food joint as a kid and mix all the sodas into one powerful omni-soda? You’d tinker with the blend, searching for a perfect confection concoction. That same sense of experimentation must have inspired Harpoon Brewery‘s 47th installment of the Harpoon 100 Barrel Series, Saison Various. This complex golden ale is a blend of four different saisons brewed individually by four different Harpoon brewers. Ethan Elston, Jamie Maxwell, Rich Masella and Ryan Thompson took their interpretations of the saison style, created the recipe and brewed their version on Harpoon’s 120-barrel system at the Boston brewery. Then, they blended them.
“We were asked to do this beer in the same style, four different recipes,” Thompson said. “We really had no idea what each of us was going to do. We each had a traditional aspect to the style, but we had our own take on the style, which was great.”
Elston’s saison had a traditional malt and hop bill, spiced with coriander, orange peel and black peppercorns. He fermented it with a Trappist yeast strain. Maxwell took a more traditional route, using a pilsner base malt, a French saison yeast strain and no spices. Thompson opted for a more traditional take as well, using a pilsner base malt along with Vienna and a small amount of wheat malt, hopped with East Kent Goldings and finally spiced with coriander and white peppercorns. Masella’s interpretation was the most radical of the four, brewing with a base malt of two-row, New Zealand hops and a French saison yeast strain. Blending the four different batches yielded a balanced, golden-hued ale with a dry mouthfeel, spicy flavor and crisp finish.
Harpoon introduced the 100 Barrel Series in 2003 to showcase the individual brewing talents of its brewers. Every couple months, a different Harpoon brewer is invited to choose a style of beer, formulate the recipe and brew the beer. That brewer’s signature can be found on the bottle label. The beers in the series are one-offs; they are brewed in limited batches and are available only until the batch sells out. Since the series began in May of 2003, 47 different styles of beer have been brewed. For a complete list of beers that have been released as part of the 100 Barrel Series, visit www.harpoonbrewery.com.
The Harpoon 100 Barrel Series Saison Various is now available in 22 oz bottles with limited draft availability. A video featuring Ryan, Jamie, Rich and Ethan talking about their beer can be viewed on its website.