Tongue Tied- Cherry Saison
Rochester Mills Beer Co.
$2.79/Can (16 oz)
Ding Ding, Round Two! Last time I brought you Rosetta- a Belgian Ale from a Belgian Brewery, high-class and high-dollar, with powerful flavors and a powerful punch. This week I’m bringing in Tongue Tied, a Saison (A Belgian wheat style) from right here in Michigan. When Rochester Mills did a blueberry stout they showed that they could bring fruit flavors to bear, let’s see how they stack up against the fancier option.
The Brewer’s Pitch:
Like Rosetta, this one started as a non-cherry beer that the brewers decided to modify. This one is a traditional Belgian-style Saison with over a thousand pounds of tart and sweet Michigan cherries added to each batch. In addition to the cherries there are lemon and orange peels and coriander for spice- all around, this sounds like it should be reminiscent of a good old-fashioned punch (no, not the Hawaiian kind). Rochester says it’s fruity, refreshing, subtly tart, and amazingly drinkable for Michigan summers.
Tongue Tied pours reddish-copper with a faint pink cast and a dense, luxurious bright white head. The nose is earthy and musky from the coriander with a mild sugary hint to it. The beer is crisp and light bodied, tingling on the tongue rather than coating it. All the flavors you’d expect from a Saison are here: it’s wheaty but not too sweet, earthy with hints of peppery coriander and the bitter juiciness that comes from citrus zest. At first blush the cherry isn’t there at all. As your palate adapts the cherry begins to come in more but is always very subtle. As always, the warmer the beer gets the stronger the secondary flavors become and this is no exception. It adds a sweetly tart flavor that does a good job of camouflaging the tendency of wheat beers to taste stale when they get warm.
This is a much different beer than Rosetta, and they’re much less comparable than I expected. Where Rosetta was intensely cherry-forward and aggressive in its flavor modifications, this is very subtle. It’s almost a standard Saison with its peppery earthy wheat character, but then the cherries come in and sweeten the edges, add a tart bite that makes it crisper, and overall improve the character. I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get my fruity punch-beer with sour and juicy cherry merged on equal terms. This really isn’t bad though. I’d probably call this a nice balcony beer, something that can be enjoyed without putting too much thorught into it. The cherries are more of a pleasant accent than a distinct flavor of their own, though, so don’t expect something super fruity.
The Bottom Line:
So in the end the high-end wins- although it’s a close thing. Ultimately Rosetta gets the edge because when it makes a cherry beer, dammit, it makes CHERRY beer. Still, that’s a very strong, very aggressive tasting beer for small glasses and polite company. What Rochester has here is an easy-drinking pleasant Saison with just enough extra to make it work getting instead of something more normal.