Whenever I was assigned a group project in high school, college, or grad school, I was always the first student with their hand raised to ask the question, “Is it all right if I work by myself?” I dreaded group work more than Superman dreaded Kyptonite, more than republicans dreading rational thought, and more than Hillary Clinton dreads incoming emails. I never liked relying on somebody else unless because I always felt I’d be the one to elevate the other person… type A and arrogant, I know… but I hated it. To put faith into somebody else when my name was attached to it was always a struggle for me, however for Corey King of Side Project Brewing, it’s no big thang. He teamed up with 2nd Shift Brewing out of Missouri to craft a beer creatively named P.A.R.K.A.S. (puppies and rainbows kittens and shit). That said, I wonder if my glass full of liquid is the pot of gold at then end of this bottle. Time to run them numbers…
Appearance: A cloudy golden color that gave off a white head. The froth disappeared almost immediately and there was no lacing to be seen in the Charente stemware. Really digging the color of the brew – perfectly authentic to a wood aged saison.
Smell: White wine, granny smith apples, lemon, lime, oak, minerality, and lactic greek yogurt. This smells more sour than I expected, but no complaints about that from me; it gives off a very similar scent to Casey Saison. Can’t wait to dive into it!
Taste: A luscious lactic sourness on first sip that immediately gave me memories of Lady in the Woods by Cisco. It has that same Chobani yogurt tartness going on and tricks you into thinking the body is creamier than it is; the lactic presence in here is prominent and stings the sides of the tongue. Once the palate gets used to the sourness from the acidity, the brew opens up like presents under the tree. The first flavor I identified once I became acclimated to the brew was the yeast in here. It has a very typical Belgian saison taste and reminds me of what I tasted in the saison from Casey. The yeast is much more prominent than I would have thought, but it brings some balance to the beer giving off some clove, banana, and rock candy equalizing the tartness… well at least it attempts to equalize the sour. A light oak character is picked up on well after you swallow leaving a dry, tannic character that coaxes you back into the glass.
The dryness of the beer isn’t surprising since it’s a barrel aged sour, but for how light and delicate this tastes, an ABV of 6.2% may raise some eyebrows. While it’s not over the top, its slightly above average for barrel aged saisons and goes completely undetected in the taste. The mouthfeel is light to medium bodied – the sweetness of the saison bumps it up a little but it sure is an easy drinker. The carbonation is right in the wheelhouse of many saisons with fine, crisp bubbles.
Overall: This is a very well conceived beer. Cory King and the folks at 2nd Shift likely passed kindergarten with flying colors; you can tell they worked well with one another and were more than willing to listen and share ideas. To quote the late Steve Jobs, “It just works.” The balance between saison and sour is executed with precision in P.A.R.K.A.S. and I admire its simplicity. No fruit, no double barreling, no spices… just a great wine aged farmhouse. I have to give these two breweries an A. The beer is really impressive and demonstrates teamwork better than the 2003 Ohio State football team.