Beer Review 0580: Stone Matt’s Burning Rosids Imperial Saison

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While we very rarely cut and paste information about beer on this website, we feel the story of this beer is best told by Stone Brewing Co; the following text appears on the back of each bottle of Matt’s Burning Rosids:

Life is extraordinarily precious, joyous…and fragile. In 2013, we suffered the tragic loss of our dear friend and coworker, Matt Courtright. In the midst of our grief, we pulled together as the family we are, suggesting and exploring numerous ways to pay tribute to our dearly departed colleague. In the end, we felt there was no finer way to honor his memory than to brew one of his most recent and special beer recipes.

Everyone at Stone recognized Matt’s prowess and passion for brewing. He loved to explore all beer could be, rather than limit himself or his brews to accepted parameters. He conceived a Belgian-style saison with his Stone friend and compatriot, Brian Bishop. Infused with cherrywood-smoked malt, the beer was dubbed Burning Rosids, referencing the rosid plant family from which cherry trees hail.

Matt’s smile and voluminous laugh were infectious mainstays around the brewery. By no means a shrinking violet, he was exuberant, courageous, unfailingly positive and the type of stalwart friend that everyone was happy to have in their corner. He was larger than life in so many ways…and without a doubt, an incredible brewer. We, Matt’s brewing comrades and friends at Stone were proud to hoist our mash paddles and brew this recipe as a symbolic gesture of how much he meant to everyone and how immensely we will miss him.

Rather than regarding Burning Rosids as a somber memento, please think of it as a celebration of Matt. We do. When you drink this very special beer, please join us in raising your glass, both in Matt’s memory and in tribute to everything he so passionately stood for: caring for others, passion and skill for his art, and laughter…lots of laughter. Among the long list of things he held dear were GoDesignInc.org, a charity committed to fulfilling the architectural needs of developing communities around the world; and TKF, a non-profit working to stop youth violence by educating, mentoring and making positive impacts on high-risk communities. We are proudly contributing funds earned through the sale of this beer to this worthy organization in Matt’s honor.

Enjoy, and please remember that life and those we hold dear are precious gifts to be cherished every day. Consider sharing this beer, conversations on life’s passions and, again, lots of laughter, with good friends as we remember ours.

Matt’s Burning Rosids comes in at 10.5% ABV (alcohol by volume) and 50 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).

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The pour produced a small, frothy head that rapidly diminished into just a thin cover around the edges of the glass. The beer is golden-orange in color and has a haze to the body; it’s still translucent and features no particles or sediment. The lacing was good, leaving behind several thin patches of suds. It’s a very nice color and has lots of carbonation bubbles that zoom to the surface.

On the aroma, this brew has a fair amount of Saison funk; the yeast is the first thing I took in, and it’s bready and earthen with a touch of barnyard. The malts are grainy and biscuity, and there are hints of orange peel, clove, bubblegum, and banana character. There’s also some peppery spice, but that seemed to come out more as it warmed. And there, in the background, is a hint of smokiness, complete with just an edge of cherry. No alcohol to be found.

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The taste is a bit rocky initially; you must allow this to warm up ten minutes or so and you’ll have a much better experience. It’s mildly bitter up front, with a stiff smokiness, but it quickly opens to more of a traditional Saison laced with spicy fruit and wood. Notes of orange peel, clove, banana, and bubblegum dominate the middle of the palate, with the bubblegum leading the transition to a finish that is definite cherrywood — the smoke is jarring in the first few sips, coming off somewhat burnt, but when allowed to warm and as the palate adjusts, it’s really more spicy/orange/clove that has smoked cherries as a background player. And yes, I got definite notes of cherry, especially as I worked my way through the last half of the glass. I found Burning Rosids to be medium-bodied, with a medium, creamy, drying mouthfeel. The alcohol isn’t overpowering but there is some warming effect.

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I really enjoyed this beer and by the end of the bottle, I wanted more. I think most people will feel that way — this is a “dabble here, dabble there…” kind of beer, with flavors all over the map. But you know what? It works — and that’s the sign of a brewer that knew what he was doing. You are missed, Matt; and it is with great honor that I got to sample one of your creations. And it is with sadness that I realize you are gone too soon; but it is with happiness that I honor and respect those with the same spirit as you who craft these crazy elixirs that we love to drink. Here’s to good beer, and the hard-working, passionate men and women that make it.

Stone Matt’s Burning Rosids Imperial Saison, 90 points. Price: $6.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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