Cherry Saison – Banded Peak Brewing, Calgary, Alberta

Over the past few weeks my Twitter feed has been full of people talking about Banded Peak Brewing‘s Cherry Saison. I have seen people asking where they can get it, how long it’s going to be available, and have seen people clamouring for more of it. I figured I better track down a growler of this cherry saison to figure out what the fuss was all about – I was not disappointed.

Picking up the growler was a treat in itself. I had yet to be in the Banded Peak facilities and it was nice to get a look at the wares. You can get growlers or crowlers filled, pull up to the tasting bar to sample what’s on offer, and have a look at the branded merchandise (upon reflection I should’ve splurged and bought the deluxe Klean Kanteen growler, they look great. I guess I’ll just have to go back). The brewery is a gem hidden just off of Macleod Trail in a small industrial park. I foresee dropping my wife off at Chinook Centre while I go to the Banded Peak tasting bar and both of us will have a wonderful day. Actually, I wonder if she wants to go to the mall right now…

Aroma: Cracking the seal on the growler and pouring its contents into a pint glass I was immediately hit with the tart aroma that accompanies this beer. There is a definite hop smell that offers citrus notes and very subtle cherries. The smell of fruit is what is most noticeable on on the nose, followed up by that faint cherry scent.

Appearance: The beer is a bold red colour that can be attributed to the cherry additives. It’s a unique looking brew that pairs well with warm days and patios. The head is a light red colour and sprang up quickly, sticking around for a little while. There was some light lacing on the side of the glass.

Taste: Tart is the name of the game here. What comes through more than the cherry flavour is citrus. There is a grapefruit taste, as well as some banana flavour that underscores the hops present. The hops add a nice bitterness to the beer without being overwhelming. Even with the cherries used in the brewing, the cherry flavour is subtle. It’s a very nice tasting beer, but it doesn’t hit you over the head with cherries.

Feel: This is an incredibly easy drinking saison. It gives a nice mouthfeel without feeling like you’re chewing on something. It is very easy to drink this beer fast, which is dangerous because of its deceptively high ABV of 6.5%. We quickly made it through this growler and now I feel the pain of those people on Twitter.

Overall: I can now see why people have gotten excited about this beer. It’s a great take on a saison and the addition of cherries give the beer a tartness that complements the bitterness of the hops. This is an excellent summer beer that won’t be around for very much longer and I’m glad I was able to go out and track down a growler of it to give myself a late summer treat. Now just to go back for that growler upgrade.


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