Beer Review 0123: Dogfish Head Saison du Buff

A few collaboration beers have been reviewed on this website, most recently the tasty More Brown Than Black IPA, and this beer is a collaborative effort between three well-known breweries.

Using the same ingredients, Dogfish Head (Milton, Delaware), Victory Brewing Company (Downington, Pennsylvania), and Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido, California) all try their hand at brewing a Saison, or a Belgian-style farmhouse ale. This particular beer is brewed using parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.

The idea for the collaboration came in 2003 when executives from each of these three companies came together and formed an alliance called BUFF (Brewers United for Freedom of Flavor). The organization didn’t really do anything of note for several years until a meeting came about in 2010, where this beer was brewed at Stone. The recipe was then replicated at Dogfish and Victory.

All three breweries decided 2012 would be the year to try it again. First up, we have the Dogfish Head version. This beer comes in at 6.8% ABV (alcohol by volume) and has a limited availability — so if you find it, you might want to go ahead and pick it up instead of waiting. Besides, the Victory version of the beer is slated for release in April, and the Stone issue should hit shelves in late May. Each version has different labeling, of course.

Dogfish’s Saison du Buff poured an average size head, frothy and long lasting. The beer was a golden yellow color, more yellow than gold, and was completely clear, free of all particles and sediment. As I drank, there were just a few bits of lace that stuck to the glass.

Most of your typical beer aromas from hops and malts were covered by the herbs used in the brewing of this beverage. On the herbal side, I got mostly sage and rosemary, but I did detect each herb used, if only faintly. As far as regular beer scents, there was some graininess on the backend, creating a pleasant and quite unique aroma for a beer; something that smelled alive and very much like a greenhouse.

On the palate, this starts with a strange combination of bouncing between bitter and sweet, before developing a grainy taste that sprouts the herbs; again, mostly sage and rosemary, but the parsley and thyme are there, too. The finish is slightly bitter and rides the herbal notes, eventually creating a softness of flavor in the mouth and a drying effect. There’s also a bit of Belgian yeast funk, especially at the very end of the finish. The texture of the beer is thin and slick, while the carbonation was average despite a bevy of bubbles that streamed to the top of the surface after pouring.

I could see one food pairing for this beer that is very obvious: pizza. I bet this would be incredible with a good pie. I thought this to be an interesting beer but I don’t know how many I could (or want) to drink. I encourage you to try this, as it is quite different from the norm, which Dogfish are incredibly talented at.

Dogfish Head Saison du Buff, 84 points. Price: $2.49 for one twelve ounce bottle.

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