Cisco Brewers - Island Reserve Saison Farm House Ale
- ABV: 5.50%
- Serving Temperature: 45-50° F
- Suggested Glassware: Tulip or Oversized Wine Glass
Some tasting notes from Jeff himself: expect assertive straw characteristics, Brett mustiness, rich stone fruit aroma (think dried apricot) and ginger, especially when young, in a medium-light nutty body, finishing dry and vinous. Over time, the acidity will come up quite a bit (courtesy of the Lacto) and balance the funkier notes. And that balance and rebalancing act will continue for years in the bottle, as the bugs essentially never die, continuing to work on the brew.
Essentially, Brett qualities will take center stage for a bit, with the spotlight later shifting to a refined acidity and bright lemon character, and then Brett stepping it up again with increased dryness, and intensification of the fruity characteristics. On and on the performance will run—and no one yet knows how long until the final curtain call—5 years? 7? 10? Quite possibly, yes. Have patience, and enjoy the show!
And in part borne out of this sense of independence, the need for Nantucket’s own ‘national’ libations was recognized. In 1981, Dean and Melissa Long founded the Nantucket Vineyard. In 1992, they met Randy and Wendy Hudson—who moved into the loft over the winery and began lending a hand to the Long’s wine endeavors. Wendy had a history of homebrewing beer, and she turned Randy onto it—so much so that in 1995, the pair founded Cisco Brewing at the vineyard. These days, the term “nano-brewery” is getting a lot of attention (truly tiny commercial brewing outfits, sometimes glorified homebrew set ups in the family garage)—but in 1995, not so much (things were still “micro” in those days). Well, the Hudson’s were, in a very true sense, nano-brewers when they started—in fact, the brewery was outside in the Longs’ backyard—which made it, officially, America’s only outdoor (commercial) brewery.
Things have scaled up a bit at Nantucket’s only brewery since then (the brewery is now indoors, FYI). There’s even a micro-distillery on site now, but the brewing remains as a small, artisanal outfit—as they hang on to their motto “nice beer, if you can get it.” In 2007, Jeff Horner joined the ranks as Head Brewer, and he was essentially given total creative control of the beers. When he came aboard, there were already a number of established Cisco Brewery beers—and they’re still around (solid beers, no doubt). But Jeff wanted to branch out—as a homebrewer since 1994 and a graduate of the CIA (that’s the Culinary Institute of America, of course)—he had some big ideas about where to take the Cisco beers—into the woods. “The Woods,” is his self-described “pet project,” where beers are exposed to used barrels—and whaddya know, having a winery next door with used wine barrels turns out to be a rather handy thing for such an endeavor. But that’s not the extent of the use of wood—oh no. How’s this sound? Little sugar pumpkins, grown just a few hundred yards away on a farm near to the brewery, roasted and smoked for two hours over the burning staves of the distillery’s 10-year old “scotch-style” whisky barrels, then macerated in barrels with a bit of whisky still in them, then, added to the mash of a new ale. Now that’s what we’re talkin’ about!
“The Woods” program has earned Cisco Brewing two medals from the World Beer Cup (2010 and 2012). Nice work Jeff! And that work continues in this month’s featured beer—which is, naturally, part of “The Woods” program. Here, the use of the wood is taken to yet another level: inoculation. Read more about this outstanding beer in the tasting notes below—you’re definitely going to want to stock up on this stuff.
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