Beer: Sweet Potato and Sage Saison
Brewery: Ardent Craft Ales (Richmond, VA)
Style: Farmhouse Ale – Saison
6.3% ABV / 28 IBU
The concept itself is pretty genius—Ardent’s Sweet Potato and Sage Saison is a fall seasonal meant to address the gap around Thanksgiving when you don’t know what you’re supposed to be drinking. Everything else is accounted for: September is for festbiers and marzens, October is pumpkin beer time, and December is for winter ales and winter warmers. November doesn’t have an obvious pairing. A wee heavy or barrel-aged beer is a fine choice when the temperature drops and it’s time to retreat indoors, but for something that compliments a Thanksgiving or Christmas Day spread, why not go for a beer that incorporates some elements of that meal?
Sweet Potato and Sage Saison is not exactly truth in advertising. The sage part of it is extremely muted and barely discernible. Sage pairs exceptionally well with sweet potatoes, yams and butternut squash, because sage offers a savory counterpoint. A straight-up sweet potato and sage ale would be dope. But a saison is typically an aggressively spiced farmhouse ale with a very specific collection of aromatics, including coriander, orange peel, ginger and black pepper. In the battle of the palette, coriander completely drowns the sage out.
As a sweet potato saison, though, this is a lovely, very drinkable beer with an appealing golden hue. The sweetness of the sweet potato shines through and compliments the hints of orange particularly well. This creates an interesting push/pull effect because this is a fairly typical saison with a fairly atypical addition of sweet potatoes, even if the appeal of both is basically the same: They are naked presentations of the flavors of the Earth. Just pair this with a cranberry gose (Ardent makes one of these, too) and holiday dinner will be lit.
For more info, check out Ardent Craft Ales here.