Later this month, Mystic Brewery will open a brand-new tasting room in Chelsea. There, you'll be able to sample the beers of one of the more innovative brewers in the Boston area.
You can sample many of Mystic's beers right now in local stores and bars. Founder Bryan Greenhagen takes the brewing arts seriously. He's particularly obsessed with fermentation, experimenting with various yeasts, including some from nature. Mystic Brewery specializes in saisons, or farmhouse ales, and their winter offering is a particularly good one.
Named after an ancient druid festival, An Dreoilin is the winter version of Mystic's saison, brewed to celebrate the winter solstice. "We let the cooler temperatures influence the brewing process," Mystic says in their description of the beer. "The result was a remarkable variation on Mystic Saison. The hops are brighter, the drinkability fantastic, and balance of flavors intriguing." The beer is re-fermented in the bottle and brewed with a dry saison yeast called Renaud.
Pop the cork on this one and start your night. The beer pours a cloudy yellow with a rapidly vanishing white head. It's difficult to see the tiny carbonation bubbles through the muck, but they're there. Belgian yeast, apples, lemons, and dandelions make up a familiar nose.
Saisons are some of my favorite beers to review because there's so much going on in terms of aroma and flavor. One sip is sweet, the next tart. Spice and subtlety mix in a way that's hard to find in any other beverage. Some of the best wines fail to yield the complexity of the world's best saisons.
An Dreoilin exhibits that kind of complexity. I accidentally picked up two bottles of it (my mistake) and had a hard time pinning this beer down despite the extra sitting. Sometimes the beer is sour, with musty hay and white pepper drying out my mouth. The next sip reveals sweet banana bread from the familiar Belgian-style yeast. When a saison gives you lemons, you're never sure what's going to come next.
I love this beer, which retails for $9.95 for a 750-ml bottle. At 7 percent alcohol by volume you can share it with someone special over a good meal.