8/9/19: Old Nation Brewing Company's Dry Honey Saison

2:21 PM

I'm happy to have today off. The week's been a little rough for me. Actually, the whole damn summer's been rough for me. But we're just about in mid-August, so the whole thing's coming to an end. I'm already planning ahead to the Oktoberfests and pumpkin ales I'll be drinking in the coming months.


Having said that, summer's not quite over yet. I still have a few summery posts planned, including today's: Old Nation's Dry Honey Saison. This'll be my first Old Nation offering and I'm excited to see how, in practice, the brewery holds up to the hype (I've heard more than a few great things about the brews offered by the place).

Founded in 2015 by Travis Fritts and Nate Rykse in Travis' hometown of Williamston, MI, Old Nation brings an old-school brewing philosophy to each and every beer they craft. That's due in major part to Travis' and Nate's background (the former learned brewing in Berlin before working at a bunch of Michigan breweries, while the latter brewed in Alaska after attending the University of California Davis). Together, and with the rest of the good people at Old Nation, they brew the best beer they can while learning to adapt to our rapidly-changing beer tastes. They have a really in-depth story/manifesto on their "About" page that I strongly recommend you check out.

Dry Honey, which is part of Old Nation's Woodshed pilot series, doesn't have a page of the brewery's website. So, like always when this is the case, we turn to its Untappd profile. Here it's listed as a 7.1% ABV saison with yeast that attributes spicy phenols and a finish that's both dry and honey-sweet (can dry and sweet coexist in a beer?). My can also provides the following information: The ale has a honey aroma that compliments the notes of clove, banana, and the bit of pepper from the yeast; I should expect a light, drinkable body; and that the stuff is "Perfect for summer drinking!"

I get plenty of honey from the bouquet. If it wasn't for the clove and banana from the yeast, I'd blindly peg this as a mead. Especially because of the light slap of alcohol that follows each waft. There's also a tiny bit of maltiness here, if you're really looking for it. Overall, this seems like it's bound to be a pleasant summer sipper. The newest addition to our family, Lottie the puppy, really likes how this smells (we have a dog who's down with beer!). She gave the ale twelve whiffs and the outside of the can numerous licks in the process.

She's a twelve-week old ball of fluff.
There's plenty of honey present in Dry Honey's flavor, but it isn't sweet. It's more of the essence of the honey, without that sticky sweetness. This is, as promised, a very dry ale. Those yeast-fueled spicy notes are present and accounted for: The banana, the clove, and the slight pepper are big here. I know this is a saison, but it reminds me so much of some of my favorite belgian blondes. The finish is, like the rest of the beer, dry without fault, but I'm finding some honey hanging around in there. Now I know why "sweet" is such a prominent descriptor in this dry beer.

In the bit about the aroma, I said this was bound to be a pleasant summer sipper and, wouldn't you know it, that's absolutely the case. It's very light bodied (like all great lawnmower beers I've had) but there's a hearty amount of creamy carbonation. The dryness begs me to take another swig.

The summer between my undergrad and my master's was hot. No, it wasn't the hottest summer I've experienced, but it's the one I recall most vividly when I think of "hot summer." This was when I worked as a deli clerk and I'd walk to and from the store each day.

On the days when I didn't have to work, I'd try to find someplace outside to read each day. At the time, I was working through Tolkien's The Return of the King. One of my favorite spots was on a bench behind the Athens Public Library Branch that was right beside the Hocking. I'd post up here in late afternoon and bask in the sunset while enjoying the winds coming off the river.  It was quiet and calm, which is what you want from an Athens summer. I'd always bring a bottle of water, but I have a feeling Dry Honey would have been a far better pairing for those evenings.

Sitting here on my porch, drinking this saison while listening to a city pop playlist as cicadas sing in the small woodland bordering our home, I can't help but reflect upon how great of a summer brew this is. Truly, Old Nation knows what they're doing. I'm giving Dry Honey a 9.0/10. I hope that it makes the jump from the Woodshed to the brewery's core seasonal lineup (which I'm not sure they have, but I know it needs to exist) sooner rather than later.

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