Najaar Winter Saison by Monnik – Review

Najaar Winter Saison by Monnik Brewing Co. (Louisville, KY)

Najaar Winter Saison by Monnik Brewing Co. (Louisville, KY)

Final Word: Najaar (Dutch for autumn) is a winter saison from the soon-to-be-open Monnik Brewing Co. in the Schnitzelburg area of Louisville. Saisons are one of brewer Scott Hand’s specialties/favorites, and having been pleased with his true-to-style and ginger versions, I was curious as to how he would add a winter spin to the brew without abandoning or overwhelming the qualities of the style that he loves so much. Visually, the beer’s copper brown color looks nothing like the golden hue of a typical saison, but the aroma is definitively saison, with yeasty, clovey, bright fruit aromas and nose-tickling effervescence. It’s strange and exciting to stick your nose into a beer that looks like a brown ale and get all those funky, spicy aromas. It looks like a winter beer, but smells like something well suited for spring and summer. The tasting experience plays out like the passage of time; a transition between summer and winter. Up front, the dry texture and spicy clove flavor mingles with a bright, lemony fruitiness and bready malts on the tongue. Textbook saison. What defines this beer is what happens in the finish. As soon as you swallow, the bready malt flavor transforms into something toasted, caramel sweet, and a touch more bitter; and the bright, acidic fruit flavor mellows out. The clove spiciness remains, dries out the tongue a bit, and lingers into an aftertaste that lightly implies gingerbread cookie or spiced bread. There is never an overwhelming flavor of nutmeg or allspice so typical of winter seasonals, but the finish feels decidedly appropriate for cooler weather. It’s like the grape that grows sweeter as it ripens on the vine; the tartness mellows and gives way to a darker character, or like leaves in autumn; bright green transitioning to muted reds and browns. Najaar is without a doubt a saison, but Monnik uses it to argue that this style can be used to herald in the cooler weather just as well as any other style, and without going the route of pumpkin pie spices. Throw on your hoodie, head for the back roads, and bask in the sun while watching the leaves fall.

Pairs With:

Green Aisles by Real Estate
The free spirited jangle and forward motion of summer, but with the quietly reserved, isolated gloominess of grey skies, and the cozy warmth of being safe inside.

Tasting Notes

Alcohol By Volume: 6.6%

Appearance: Hazy copper/red orange tint around the edges of a tea brown body. The head dissipates quickly to a thin film around the edge.

Aroma: Wild, funky yeast, bright effervescence, and spicy clove.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Dry, spicy clove up front with bright, subtle lemon fruitiness. Very lively and carbonated. Bready malt flavor finishes with a toasty, slightly caramel malt character. Dry spiciness lingers on and implies gingerbread or spiced bread.