Beer Review 0588: Epic Utah Sage Saison

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Epic Brewing Company hails out of Salt Lake City, Utah, and they primarily focus on high alcohol content beer. Operations started in 2008, when Utah modified its state laws and higher ABV (alcohol by volume) beers could be produced — the founders are David Cole and Peter Erickson, both of whom shared a longtime dream of opening a microbrewery.

The company divides its offerings into three different series: Classic, Elevated, and Exponential. As you might expect, the offerings get more extreme and creative with each jump of series; today’s review, Utah Sage Saison, belongs squarely in the Exponential series.

It should be noted before I get into the review exactly how Epic produce some of their brews: they brew by batch, and each batch might be different than previous editions. Each brew is limited to a certain number of bottles; the batch number for this review is #14, which was bottled January 17, 2014. Brewed with fresh sage, rosemary, and thyme, the hops used are Centennial, Citra, and Calypso, while the malts are Weyermann Pilsner, Muntons Marris Otter, 2-Row malt, rye malt, and Muntons Wheat. The ABV (alcohol by volume) is 7.9%.

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The pour roused up an average size, bright white, creamy head that had some staying power. Color of the beer was golden with lighter yellow highlights. The body was hazy to a smidgen cloudy, but there were no particles or sediment. Lacing was good, leaving behind some thin patches.

On the nose, Utah Sage comes off exactly as that — lots of sage, with even amounts of thyme. I didn’t detect any rosemary; there’s a nice hop backing to the beer that imparts notes of light citrus (orange and lime) and tropical fruits. There’s just the right amount of hops here to accentuate the dominant herbs. And lingering in the background is a typical Saison yeast, earthy and a touch funky. The herbal aspect of this brew is quite fresh and really jumps out when laid against the hops. Very nice.

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The taste issues up mild citrus hops to start, a pinch of orange and lemon, then a blast of sage and thyme. It mingles well with the hops, interchanging flavors for several seconds until the herbs begin to take center stage. There’s a bit of pineapple in the middle of the mouth, leading to a finish of sage, thyme, earthy Saison yeast, and hoppy bitterness. The herbs continue to play long after you take a sip. Utah Sage is medium-bodied, with a thin, foamy and drying mouthfeel.

Without a doubt, this is a well-constructed beer, but I suggest you pair this one with food. It’s good alone, but after half a glass, I was ready to move on. The herbs, while fresh and well-represented paired with citrus and tropical hops, do begin to tire the palate. Food (like a pizza or even something heavy like steak) would break a little of the herbal monotony and actually help rest the taste buds, in my opinion. Definitely worthy of a try and a split with a friend.

Epic Utah Sage Saison, 88 points. Price: $6.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

0588-epicutahsagesaison

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