Beer Name: Saison du BUFF
Brewery: Dogfish Head / Stone / Victory
Beer Style: Saison
ABV: 6.8% / 7.7% / 6.8%
Size: 12 oz. bottle
Beer Advocate: 87 / 87 / 86
RateBeer: 95 / 97 / 93
The dedicated, loyal reader of the works of this beer blogger surely has noted my affection for the collaborative experiments of many craft brewers. If you are one of these intelligent folk, it must come as little shock that when three of the bigger boys in Craft came together and agreed on an idea for a beer that they would then take back to their respective kettles to brew independently, that it might peak my curiosity; well if you thought that, then bully for you. The first time they released these beers I was never able to snag all three at the same time (one would always come up missing before the third one made it home), so when I saw them all in one place, at one time, I snatched them up so I could sit and compare. The following is my thoughts, enjoy:
If you look at the picture to the left, you might be able to tell that all three of these beers look nearly identical. The Dogfish Head is a bit more cloudy, but since it is bottle conditioned that might just be a little sediment that sneaked its way into the glass. Stone’s might be the lightest in color, but it would take a very detailed and thorough packet of color swatches to be sure. All of the glasses are full of an ale that is golden in color and topped with a half-finger of head after pouring. From the looks of them, they seem to remain nicely carbonated after they settle.
On smelling, Victory’s contained sweet with notes of fresh herbs, mostly sage, and maybe some some fresh-cut grass. While the Dogfish was a little less sweet and there was a barely noticeable increased sage presence on the nose. Also, as might be expected, the Stone offering had the most hop-forward smell – more cut grass and less sweetness, but there was still a lot of sage smell fighting its way through as well. If the nose does in-fact “know,” then my initial reaction would be that I think I would like the Stone the most, as a noted hop addict.
And now for the best part … the drinking. The Victory beer starts off sweet, but the sage still there; it has that dry barnyard finish that you get in so many saisons. The Victory is also the most smooth making it what I would consider the most easily drinkable of the three. Dogfish’s is much more heavy on the herbs, especially the sage (tons of sage, but not too much); there may be a touch more of an alcohol taste and less of the sweet. Unfortunately, the increased sage masks the barnyard flavor I got off the Victory, which would be great here. Finally on to the Stone. As the nose alluded to, there is much more of a grassy/citrus hop flavor on this one. The hops add a nice complexity to the finish of this beer; it finishes more like a low-hopped APA than what I usually expect from a traditional saison. The stone doesn’t have as much sage or earthy flavor as the other two do – this may be due to the increased hop flavors – but you still know it is a saison. All three are nearly identical on mouth feel having nice carbonation level light on the surfaces of the mouth.
Final notes: I loved doing this tasting, and I would do it again no question. What made it so great was that while each beer was very similar, they all were complex enough to be very different at the same time. It also was cool to me that they all remained true to what you would expect from each brewer. The Stone was the most hop forward, the Dogfish Head was the weirdest and most non-normal-beer-ingredient forward, and the Victory was the most accessible, drinkable of the group. Really a great concept that was executed wonderfully.
Sessionability: 3-pack / 4-pack / 5-pack. (Dogfish/Stone/Victory) The large amount of sage in the Dogfish prevents this from being more drinkable, but both the Stone and the Victory are very drinkable. The Victory is the smoothest so I rated it a bit higher than the Stone.
Overall: 4 pack / 5-pack /4 pack (Dogfish/Stone/Victory). The more pronounced hops flavor and aroma made the Stone my favorite (the nose does know after all), but they all were very good in different ways.
Would Best Be Consumed: If you are lucky like me and can drink all three at the same time do it; it was fun. But if you can’t, try it with some soft cheese; I think you’ll like it.