THE LOST ABBEY’S SAISON BLANC is the third beer out of four that we will be BrewViewing for the month of November. When we found it on the shelves at Perry’s Liquor & Craft Beer in Livermore, California, we decided that a secondary BrewView for any Lost Abbey beer was severely overdue- our apologies to Tomme, Vince, Gina, and all of the LOST ABBEY crew for us taking so long!
We have enjoyed many of The Lost Abbey’s beers numerous times over a period of nearly 8 years, and we wanted to find one to BrewView that was not available in our local Redding, California market. The brewery is definitely ‘One to Watch’ as one that continues to innovate and inspire others.
ABOUT THE LOST ABBEY / PORT BREWING
A few years and beers ago, Vince Marsaglia (one of the co-founders and half of the family duo that owns Pizza Port) was inspired by the numerous Abbey Style beers that he tasted and dreamed up a brewery project that produced a range of beers produced with a nod to the monastic brewing traditions of Belgium. As Vince imagined it, this brewery had no actual Abbey property involved, making it “lost” from the very beginning.
That all changed in 1997 when Tomme Arthur was hired to brew at Pizza Port in Solana Beach, California. In November of that year he released Dubbel Overhead Abbey Ale, the first Belgian-style beer ever brewed at Pizza Port.
A series of Overhead Ales was developed, and many other Belgian inspired beers soon followed. Tomme gained a reputation in the brewing industry and with consumers for his interpretation of classic Belgian Style beers as well as a cult like following for some of the most imaginative free spirited beers brewed in America. The emergence of the burgeoning San Diego Breweries along with an American Craft Brewing scene spearheaded by breweries like Dogfish Head, Russian River, Southampton Public House, Avery, Allagash and Pizza Port helped foster a movement towards small scale single batch unique beers.
After many years of small scale Pizza Port brewing Tomme and Vince began formulating a plan to bring these beers to a wider audience. Building on Vince’s original Belgian brewery vision, this new brewery would dedicate itself to a flavor-first brewing philosophy where thinking outside the box — and equally as important — brewing outside the box were the hallmarks. Uniquely crafted beers such as Cuvee de Tomme, Le Woody, Late Harvest, SPF 8 and SPF 45 Saison — and many others to come — would finally be made available on a scale that allowed more people to taste the vision in each bottle.
Today Port Brewing continues at the vanguard of craft brewing, ranked as one of the top 10 new breweries in the nation by both industry experts and enthusiasts alike, driven in large part by its extraordinary Lost Abbey beers and a library of 1000+ plus oak bourbon, brandy, sherry, and wine barrels that comprise one of the most remarkable barrel-aging programs for a craft brewery of any size. Distribution has also expanded to major cities and metropolitan areas throughout the country, allowing beer lovers to now enjoy fresh brewed Port products from coast to coast. (Source: The Lost Abbey)
THE LOST ABBEY FOUNDERS
Tomme Arthur began his brewing career at the now defunct Cervecerias La Cruda (The Hangover Brewery) in downtown San Diego. While working there he developed his brewing skills ander the guidance of Troy Hojel. During this time, both Tomme and Troy developed new recipes and produced flavorful beers that captured the attention of beer fans and later earned the brewery a Gold medal at the 1996 Great American Beer Festival. He worked at White Labs in San Diego as a yeast developer and salesperson.
When the opportunity for Tomme to get back into brewing opened up at Pizza Port in Solana Beach, California in 1997, it was the moment he had been waiting for. During his tenure there, he went on to develop and brew many award wining beers. 2003 and 2004 found Pizza Port Solana Beach being awarded as Small Brewpub of the Year as well as Tomme winning Brewer of the Year for both years. Tomme joined Port Brewing in 2006, and continued to develop unique, artisanal beers. He has won numerous awards at the most prestigious beer competitions with his inventive beers. His concoctions are some of the most prized in the beer industry. To call Tomme Arthur a brewing genius is an understatement. Very few have the inventiveness and brewing ideas as Tomme does, and the awesome flavors of his beers (and numerous awards as a result) are a true testimony. Today, Tomme is the Director of Brewing Operations.
Let’s Party. Best known as ½ of the dynamic Marsaglia family duo, Gina is the godmother of San Diego’s craft beer scene and responsible for bringing good beer and good cheer to San Diego way back in 1987 before there was any. Originally from the great beer state of Colorado, Gina headed west to San Luis Obispo for college, then turned her compass south to San Diego and founded the world famous family of Pizza Port brew pubs. Life has been one big party ever since.
These days Gina, a fan of great and inspired beers, is often seen running from beer festival to beer festival promoting the Pizza Ports and Craft Brewed Beer. Her travels have taken her all across this great country of ours as well as far away places like Belgium and Amsterdam. Blessed with what seems like two livers, Gina is always up for another round wherever the good times may be.
When not chasing her three children, Gina enjoys running, working out, cooking and dipping into a well stocked wine cellar for every occasion. She’s a fixture at the Pizza Port in Bressi Ranch where her office is located. She fancies hoppy IPA’s and is a big fan of sour beers as well.
Her primary responsibilities remain overseeing the day to day operations of the Pizza Port locations – Carlsbad, Ocean Beach, San Clemente, Solana Beach, and Bressi Ranch – while still finding enough time and energy to help guide Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey. (Source: The Lost Abbey)
Let’s Party Part II. Brother to Gina Marsaglia, Vince is the other half of the dynamic ownership of Pizza Port. Hailing from Colorado, Vince spent a summer working for Coors Brewing Co. in Golden, Colorado (don’t worry Vince your secret is safe with us). After moving West to join his sister, Vince was the man behind the pie for so many years. A world class chef, Vince continues his aspirations of one day hosting his own Food Network Show titled Junk Yard Kitchen. Those who have witnessed his talented cooking understand the skill this man possesses. We know of no one who can turn the bed of a Tundra Pickup into a kitchen better than Vince.
Some of you know him as the original brewer at both Pizza Port Solana Beach and Carlsbad, and he was part of the original brew crew at Port Brewing. Known for such amazing innovations as the “Vince Rinse” and the proprietary process for adding raisins to Lost and Found, his techniques continue to be used in our brewhouse today.
These days Vince is charged with being an ambassador for San Diego’s craft brew scene. When not out spreading goodwill, Vince can be seen cooking for an army of five(!) boys that call him dad. Someday soon, he hopes to develop a program of recipes and pairings for all of their beers enabling chefs everywhere (including those with real kitchens) to express themselves using their beers. (Source: The Lost Abbey)
BEER STYLE AND COMMERICAL DESCRIPTION FROM THE LOST ABBEY
Style category: Spiced Saison Ale
Inspired by crisp white wines, Saison Blanc features New Zealand (Nelson Sauvin) hops, golden raisins and white pepper for a decidedly bright, spicy, and robust low ABV beer. Finished with Brettanomyces at packaging, this beer will evolve for many more years to come.
AROMA: Tropical fruit and Pineapple with wondrous notes of sweet malt.
TASTE: Effervescent and crisp with a toasty, sweet malt character. Some hints of juicy ripe fruit and a subtle pepper bite. This beer can be enjoyed now or stashed away. The cellaring will allow the Brett to continue to evolve the flavor of the beer for years to come.
Pair with anything with spice and / or funk, Thick smelly cheeses.
OUR BREWVIEW OF THE LOST ABBEY- SAISON BLANC
APPEARANCE / THE POUR:
5.5% ABV. Poured into a tulip-shaped glass, and served at 55°F. Pours a light-medium golden color- SRM value between 3 and 4. The slightly off-white colored head pours an easy 3 finger height, with large and small bubbles; extremely dense and extremely rocky. The head sustains very well and lasts quite a while. The rim color varies to light golden.
As the head collapses, the Brussels lacing it leaves behind is extremely thick and even. (We ensured this was a “Beer Clean” glass). The meniscus is slow rising- incredible for a beer at only 5.5% ABV. There was a cloudy haze to the beer, due to the bottle conditioning / yeast sedimentation.
AROMA / BOUQUET:
The immediate bouquet is a unique mixture of Brett funk, fruit, herbs and spice. The spicy phenols are absolutely fantastic in this beer. Gently floral, the Nelson Sauvin hops give it a wonderful earthiness.
The idea of this beer was to mimic the dryness and crispness of a Sauvignon Blanc wine, and The Lost Abbey has done just that with Saison Blanc. Beautiful mixture of grassiness, white pepper, tart citrus (grapefruit), orange, lemons, faint pineapple. with the right balance of funk. Outstanding.
MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
Very crisp mouthfeel, very effervescent, tart and dry, with a nice hop bitterness in the finish. The dryness lingers, (it mimics white wine grape skin dryness and white pepper) and invites you to take that next sip. The effervescence of this beer immediately hits the front of the tongue and the op of the mouth when drinking. The drinkability is very high, given how “dry” this beer is. The funk finish is soft, but just enough to give it that cutting edge.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS:
APPETIZERS: Cheeses- Goat cheese, Abbaye de Belloc, Blue Castello, Coupole Double Gloucester.
ENTRÈES: Grilled chicken, Sushi, pizza from Pizza Port(!), Spring Panzanella with Asparagus.
DESSERTS: Lemon tarts, lemon cheesecake, pineapple shortcake, key lime pie, golden raisins.
When we found Saison Blanc on the shelves at Perry’s Liquor & Craft Beer, we immediately knew that another BrewView for The Lost Abbey was in order. Saison being one or favorite beers to drink, we found Saison Blanc to be very inventive, not the same-ol’, same ol’.
You may be confused with the fall-time leaves in the pictures for a beer that is traditionally enjoyed in the summer. The origin of Saison is Belgian farmhouse beers brewed in the autumn or winter for consumption during the summer for the farm workers, who were entitled to up to five litres each workday. (Hence, the autumn leaves in the pics!) Brewing outside the summer months was common for all brewers before the discovery of refrigeration, due to the likelihood of the beer spoiling while fermenting in the summer, which is the height of airborne bacteria activity. Farmers possibly also brewed during the cooler months to provide work for their permanent staff during the quieter period. After brewing, the ale was stored until the summer when the main consumers would be the seasonal workers (“les saisonniers”).
This is an EXCELLENT beer to have your friends that enjoy crisp, dry white wines to try! We’re noticing that the transition of wine drinkers enjoying flavorful craft beers is happening more and more. We are inclined to enjoy this beer year-round whenever we’re looking for a beer that refreshes, is crisp, tart, and effervescent. Yet another world class beer from the myriad of beers by The Lost Abbey. A must have for all Saison-style beer enthusiasts- seek this one out for sure!
THE LOST ABBEY: