Despite its humdrum appearance, I was delighted to see today's beer emerge from its receptacle, recognizing the signature label style of De Molen, one of the best breweries in the Netherlands. I'm neither hot nor cold on the saison style; I've enjoyed a few over the years, and come across a few duds, same as most beer varieties, but was intrigued when I looked at the ingredients and saw Szechuan peppers listed.
Winter Saison pours a hazy gold with a hint of orange in the depths, crested with a sturdy white head. Olfactory-wise, it's a subtle brew, even deep sniffs revealing little else than a tangy yeast affect and a hint of the floral, probably from the juniper berries.
A sip brings a light-tasting but still robust ale, flavour, relatively mild, supported well by spice and floral elements. The peppers are brilliantly subtle, arriving as an understated afterthought to the tingly finish of the beer. The carbonation is fine, but enough to bring a degree of liveliness to the mouthfeel.
Another great combination of the traditional and the iconoclastic from a great brewery!
In terms of pairing, all I can think of since reading the word 'Szechuan' is Chinese food. I am this close to calling Happy Palace and getting an order of their Special Egg Foo Yung or some Shrimp in Lobster Sauce sent over. I think this Winter Saison would be a wonderful accompaniment to fresh bread and butter, or a ploughman's lunch.