Beer Review: Jughandle Brewing’s Bee Sting

Name: Bee Sting
Brewing Company: Jughandle Brewing Company
Location: Tinton Falls, NJ
Style: Farmhouse Ale – Saison
ABV: 6%

A sweet, refreshing Saison perfect for spring/summer warm weather.

Jughandle_BeeSting

From the untappd page for the beer:

A seasonal classic of Jughandles, Bee Sting is a farmhouse style Saison brewed with Honey, lemon zest and dry hopped with Lavender. The result is a bone dry Saison body with a hint of unfermented honey with a delicate bouquet of lavender and lemon on the nose.

Jughandle was the very first brewery to receive a spotlight here at the Tap Takeover (and you all can see how very rough around the edges that is), but this is the first beer review appearance for them here. When I did that early review, Jughandle was about to celebrate their first anniversary. Here we are five years later and they’ve moved to a larger space with more production capacity. This beer has been in regular rotation for the brewery for a few years as their spring/summer seasonal. When I stopped in the brewery with a good friend of mine, I was hoping this one was available on draught because I was in the mood for a saison.

Image courtesy of Jughandle Brewing

The aroma of the freshly poured beer hits my nose. The lemon and lavender are present. The picture above isn’t as representative of the beer I had, it was towards early evening and the shadows playing in the brewery make the beer look darker than it appears. It was actually more of a bright yellow golden as opposed to an orangey/yellow golden.

The first sip is very, very pleasant. It was relatively warm that day and the refreshment level on that fist sip encourages me to take a second sip very quickly. I’m not typically a big fan of lavender, it can be very overpowering to my sense of smell. But the lemon and honey drew me to the beer and I’m glad I got the full pour. The lavender is present, but provides a really nice floral finish to the beer. The honey is present throughout the beer as it traverses my palate, but more so as a sweetening and balancing element than the flavor of honey itself. The Belgian-inspired yeast that is such a defining characteristic of saisons is prominent, too.

I’ve had close to 70 different saisons, or so untappd tells me. Many of those saisons have had something added, be it a fruit (like blackberry), an herb, or a flower (like hibiscus). I can’t say I’ve had any saisons with lavender in it, but the balance here between the honey, lemon, and lavender is very impressive and I like what the lavender element brings to the beer despite my aforementioned aversion to plant.

Bee Sting is a great warm weather beer, extremely refreshing with some sweet and citrusy elements, and a clean, dry, earthy finish. This beer is a good indicator of why Jughandle has been making beer for 6 years and had to move to a larger facility. .

Highly Recommended, link to 4 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Jughandle_BeeSting

Beer Review: Buttzville Brewing’s Mountain View Saison

Name: Mountain View
Brewing Company: Buttzville Brewing Company
Location: Washington/Buttzville, NJ
Style: Farmhouse Ale – Saison
ABV: 6.2%

A brand new brewery knocks it out of the park with their first Saison.

Buttzville_MountainViewSaison

From the untappd page for the beer:

This light, crisp Belgian saison is dedicated to the street Dave grew up on – Mountain View Rd., just outside of Washington, NJ. The classic, easy-drinking flavors of pepper, fruits, and floral notes are the perfect homage to the farming community in Warren County. The dry finish makes this a refreshing brew to enjoy on an evening spent in the outdoors.

Buttzville Brewing Company is one of the newer breweries in New Jersey. (Get the laughs out), having on July 31, 2021 amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic as the fourth brewery in Warren County, NJ. A good friend and I have made a tradition of visiting a brewery before watching a wrestling Pay-Per-View (in this case AEW All Out 2021), so when I realized how close he was to Buttzville Brewing, we decided to visit them.

He went with the Saison first, I decided on it last and I’m glad I did because it was the best of the three beers I enjoyed. The beer comes to me with a fairly thick, fluffy head that is exactly what I expect from a saison. A little fruitiness in the aroma, lots of earthiness. Aroma and look are spot on for the style.

A big, smack of flavors hits my palate in the best possible way. I am very impressed, but how does it work beyond that first sip? Very well indeed.

Mountain View is a bounty of flavors one should expect from a saison – a little peppery, a little fruity, a slightly dry finish. Each successive sip of the beer impresses me even more with the flavors…all fully derived from the yeast. No pepper added, no fruit elements added. That’s what wows me so much here, is that owner/brewer Dave was able coax so much wonderful flavor from the yeast in his brew process. In talking to Dave, he said he wanted to brew a saison because he wasn’t seeing enough of them and Mountain View saison is a beer he should proud to call his own.

Perhaps the thing that speaks the most to how much I (and my friend) enjoyed the beer. I had a growler filled for us to enjoy while watching the pay per view. Later that evening, we both remarked on how impressed we were with the beer. Quite simply, a clean, well-made beer in a classic style that required no crazy adjuncts.

A beer like this proves out the quality of the brewer who made the beer. Extremely refreshing and flavorful, Mountain View is a fantastic interpretation of Farmhouse Ale/Saison.

Highly Recommended, link to 4.25 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

Trip to the Farm (Level 13)

You have a keen taste for this Belgian masterpiece. Did you know the Saison style beer was invented by Belgian farms, brewed in the Winter and served the Spring/Summer to all their workers? Well now you do! That’s 55 different Saisons.

Buttzville_MountainViewSaison

Beer Review: Source Farmhouse Brewery’s Winter Saison

Name: Winter Saison
Brewing Company: Source Farmhouse Brewery /
Location: Colts Neck, NJ
Style: Farmhouse Ale – Saison / “Super Farmhouse Saison”
ABV: 10%

An outstanding Farmhouse Ale from the Garden State’s premier Farmhouse Brewery.

From the untapped page for the beer:

This elegant, dark brown beauty will glimmer with deep garnet hues and quickly form a long-lasting head of fine, khaki-colored foam.

We sourced local NJ Pine Barrens honey to boil along with a wort composed primarily of sugars from Pilsner, Munich, and rye malts, and gave it a touch of herbal and spicy hop character.

The nose is first greeted with spicy Belgian yeast character and an abundance of dark fruits, followed by sweet honey, toasty malt, and caramelized sugars. Despite its sweeter aroma and flavors this brew has a light body and finishes quite dry.

We get notes of black cherry, honey, prune, raisins, toasted bread, candied figs, scorched brown sugar, black pepper, clove, bananas foster, and cranberry chutney.

Source Brewing is one of the hottest, newer breweries in NJ. They release their canned beers through an online purchasing portal that tend to sell out in moments. The people behind the brewery have a great pedigree, owner Phil Petracca is the man behind Fizzics, head brewery Greg Taylor has multiple brewing degrees, and one of the brewers, Jeremy Watts, gained experience at Carton Brewing. Source typically releases only direct from the brewery, so I was very pleased to see a couple of their beers in a local bottle shop. That’s a very small snapshot of the brewery, what about the beer?

It makes sense that a brewery who labels themselves as a “Farmhouse Brewery” would make a few Farmhouse Ales, including this Dark Saison.

The beer pours dark brown/black with a slightly khaki head. Most saisons are a bright yellow, often slightly cloudy so right off the bat this beer is set apart from the crowd. Aroma…I get mostly the yeast which is often the strongest component of Saisons and most Belgian-inspired ales.

This beer passes the first sip test with flying colors. While it may not look like a typical saison, the aforementioned yeast elements firmly establish this beer as a Saison.

But wait, there’s more!

On the finish, the presence of the honey is most welcome and balances out the beer so well. Saisons can lean towards the earthy side, with a slight aftertaste, but the honey eliminates that and enhances the spice and clove character that comes from the yeast. Fruity elements intermix as well, not sure about the cherries mentioned in the description, but perhaps some figginess and definitely hints of banana. In other words, there is such a magnificent complexity to this beer in the flavor, aroma, and look that I can only be impressed with the delicious dark liquid that sat in my glass. Source calls this a “Super Saison” and I can’t argue that moniker, it is delicious and it does not drink like the 10% ABV listed on the can.

To that point, saisons were typically brewed for warmer months as something of a reward for farm workers (thus the name, Farmhouse Ale), but typically did not have an alcohol content more than 7% ABV and used grains and ingredients grown on said farm. After all, the farmers didn’t want their workforce to get too inebriated and hungover for their next days of work. Or, as stated in a great Beer Connoisseur article:

They have a low ABV, and quite the correct bitterness. They are designed to refresh.

This beer is most definitely refreshing, but 10% ABV is not exactly low. In fact, the second can I enjoyed was after a 3 hour shoveling session thanks to nearly two feet of snow (see picture above) and I could think of almost no better beverage reward for that hard work. While I typically go for a big stout on cold winter nights, this beer definitely works in that regard – big bold flavor, slightly higher alcohol, and a dark hue to match the darkest nights.

Outside of Saison Dupont, Source’s Winter Saison is the best saison I’ve ever enjoyed. It may not look the part of a typical saison nor does it hew to the lower ABV of a typical saison, but the flavor elements are very traditional and the fact that a farmhouse brewery created this beer speak to this beer’s identity as a true Farmhouse Ale/Saison.

Highly Recommended, link to 4.5 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

Trip to the Farm (Level 11)

 

You have a keen taste for this Belgian masterpiece. Did you know the Saison style beer was invented by Belgian farms, brewed in the Winter and served the Spring/Summer to all their workers? Well now you do! That’s 55 different Saisons.