We all have moments that make us a little nostalgic – sentimental memories that take us back to a simpler time. Grammy’s homemade pancakes, Huffy bikes, pasta dinners 3 generations strong, and Pogs. Yea… Pogs. I remember when hanging with your friends and sippin’ on Capri Suns arguing over which slammer to use was the most stressful part of the day. Life was a bit more elementary. Often, when we reflect to the era most historians classify as “back-in-the-day” we appreciate the unembellished and luddite-like lives we once had. Now too frequently we find ourselves bogged down by missed calls, hoards of emails, and one too many notifications stagnantly waiting for us on our locked screens.
Those simpler days seem pretty utopian at times, and OEC brewing embraces that. Rather than fuss and fuddle with new aged brewing techniques and bean counting widgets, OEC throws it back to focus on how life used to be. Specializing in old world ales, they let nature run its course with the liquid they ferment as it’s exposed to wild Connecticut yeast strands and rustic coopered barrels. One such offering that fits this category is Tempus – a rustic sour saison more yeoman than Thomas Jefferson’s values. Let’s hand calculate those numbers…
Appearance: Dark orange with some sediment and a white head. The head didn’t last too long and there was no lacing to be found on my teku.
Smell: Brett, orange oil, sour, wheat, apples, lime zest, gentle oak, and spearmint. I’m not picking up any of the saison type of yeast – no pepper or bready smells from the brew.
Taste: I get a lot of funk from the brett and typical brett flavors like orange oil, dry citrus, and granny smiths. These flavors jumped out at first, then several other notes shine through. The malt base in here adds some caramel and biscuity notes that I really wouldn’t have expected out of saison. I don’t want to overplay how much these flavors come out, but they help quell the funk of the brett to round things out a bit. The brew is very noticeably tart but after your first glass, it’s easy getting used to. Once the tart flavors fall a off a little, you begin to pick up more of those typical saison qualities – more yeasty, more bready. The oak remains trapped in the beer for me and I don’t get much of it in the flavor, outside of maybe some bitter tannins. The finish on Tempus is a bit odd to me as parts are sweet and parts are very dry. The sides of your tongue get a super dry finish that’s short and to the point, but the rest of my palate got a bready, more sweet finish. It was very unique and something that distinguishes itself from any other barrel aged saison.
The carbonation on Tempus was great, especially since it’s a bottle conditioned, barrel aged saison from nearly a year ago. The ABV was only 5.5% but I felt it after the first glass, it was more present than any other 5.5% brew I’ve ever had. The beer was drinkable, but I took my time with it. The first glass went down like water, but once the sour faded it was nursed a little bit more… not necessarily a bad thing though.
Overall: Tempus was nice. I haven’t had any barrel aged saison with this many transitions and this depth of flavor. Jacques Cousteau would approve. Batch 2 of this brew is more “saisony” than that of 3, and it showed once your first pour was in your stomach. Well balanced flavors and the perfect amount of funk give Tempus an A-. This is one old world beer that’s anything but simple.