Argus Brewery - Rosie Cheeks
- ABV: 6.25%
- Serving Temperature: 48–55° F
- Suggested Glassware: Tulip, Chalice, or Pinot Glass
One of our favorite parts of doing what we do here at the Rare Beer Club is actually setting up our Exclusive offers—which pretty much boils down to working with amazing breweries to bring out a beer that you’re simply not going to find anywhere else. This is another one of those lovely times (though they seem to be happening around here more often lately…). We are excited to get this one out to our thirsty Rare Beer Club members: an exceptional saison, brewed with dried rose hips and Nelson Sauvin hops, from the fine folks of Argus Brewery.
Argus’ Rosie Cheeks is a hugely expressive saison, if crafted around a rather traditional core. The malt bill consists mostly of Pilsner, as well as 10% wheat malt—which shows through in the texture and head retention. For fermentation the brewery employs a French saison strain that they purposefully let do its work at lower temperatures to get the yeast profile just right. Overall, those wheat additions and the saison yeast offer a nice and peppery, toasty core that threads through this whole beer. On the less traditional side, of course, are the hefty doses of dried rose hips and New Zealand-grown Nelson Sauvin hops, which get added to the kettle. These latter two additions work seamlessly beside that toasted, traditional-saison foundation.
The net result? An unforgettable saison, for one.
Argus Rosie Cheeks pours pale blonde, with a very slight haze to it. (The wheat serves to add to the latter quality, though slight fining of this beer in the fermenter tends to clear it up, just a touch.) A creamy white foam, also amplified with that wheat addition, caps things carefully. Depending upon how gentle we were in our pouring methods, there was a bit of sediment in later pours, with the resident yeast and protein adding a bit of slickness to the mouthfeel. We were, regardless of sediment and haze levels, fully intrigued from our pours forward—as this looks like the perfect sort of beverage to dig into and enjoy right when the weather’s warm.
The aromatics of this saison are apparent well before we finish a quick survey of appearance, offering up generous notes such as jammy rose hips, exotic tropical fruit and additional floral notes from the Nelson Sauvin hops. Lots of bready, yeasty characteristics here in the aroma, a backdrop to the generous flowers and potent fruit. The aroma continues to develop as this warms up in the glass. Yeast-borne attributes range from vanilla and rich esters, out to more bitter clove and peppery phenolics. It’s a perfect fit to the special additions here, working to keep the overall bitterness reasonable, while bringing out those roses and tropical fruitiness.
The texture and overall feel of this saison approximate that pillowy, crisp feel of a smoothly built wheat beer, while still finishing with a hop snap. There’s lots of fruit here, jammy from the rose hips and yeast alike, as well as a welcome edge of acidity. As in the aroma, the yeast is often a backdrop that helps amplify the hips and hops. A nice bittering bite closes things, courtesy of a generous, bright, and exceptionally tropical dose of the Nelson Sauvin variety.
At slightly under 6.5% ABV, and accounting for the tropical hop presence in the aroma, we would definitely encourage Rare Beer Club members to try a bottle of Rosie Cheeks while it is super-fresh. A sherry-like aroma will develop as this matures, with the hop aspects falling off. The brewery suggests that the best aged beer flavors will be found somewhere between 6 and 18 months out, with a balance of sweetness and fruit. They don’t suggest past 2 years.
The brewery was kind enough to offer up a number of pairing suggestions to us for this Rare Beer Club Exclusive. For warmer-temperature events, they suggest trying with lamb sausages or Mediterranean-style salads. In cooler weather, pair with a lamb roast, where the traditional spices will enhance the rose-hip acidity from this beer. For cheese, they recommend washed-rind ones or low-moisture Gruyère, with honey, and dried berries as a hop-minded garnish.
We’ve got another Rare Beer Club® Exclusive lined up for our members this month—and it’s one of the most intriguing saisons we’ve had in a long while: Argus Brewery’s Rosie Cheeks.
The brewery is headed by father-and-son team Bob and Patrick Jensen, while Mary Pellettieri serves as brew master. Pellettieri previously worked for both the Siebel Institute (in Chicago) and Goose Island, among other brewery positions over the past 20 years. She joined Patrick on the brewing team. As a whole, Argus Brewery prides itself on making world-class beers as well as serving as good historic and environmental stewards, reducing waste and energy. It’s been great to cross paths with their efforts—and we think you’re going to dig Rosie Cheeks.
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