Westbound & Down Brewing Company - Solera Saison (Rare Beer Club Exclusive)
- ABV: 7.0%
- Bottle Size: 750-ml
- Serving Temperature: 42–49° F
- Suggested Glassware: Tulip, Goblet, or Pinot Glass
Westbound & Down’s exceptional Solera-process saison has only seen limited release to date. Of the preceding batch, less than 30 cases were released into distribution within the Denver area, while the remainder was sold through Westbound & Down’s brewpub. This latest batch will be available exclusively through the Rare Beer Club and the brewpub.
The nicely detailed Solera Saison from Westbound & Down uses the Solera-style aging process to create a blend of barrel-aged saisons of various ages, with each bottling of Solera Saison being similar, but also a touch different, to the one preceding it. 100% of this saison is aged inside of American oak foeders, and Solera Saison gets fermented with 5 strains of Brettanomyces, 3 saison strains, and 3 strains of Lactobacillus. The Solera-style blending and complex fermentations provide for one of the most satisfying foeder-aged saisons we’ve found in quite some time. A potent combo of pepper, toasty oak, and fresh, tart lemon.
Solera Saison pours a hazy golden yellow capped by significant white foam: well formed, with solid retention and lacing. The color’s lightly tarnished and glows in the glass; nicely honeyed and difficult to see through. Lots of expressive lemon and citrus in the aromatics: peach, apricot, and broad tropical notes. All the expressive, bright fruit gets supported by the subtle funkiness of the Bretts and bright acidities from the ferment. There’s warm, rounded Chardonnay-like oakiness mellowing everything out—a nicely expressed barrel impact of vanilla and almond. Enhanced by the Solera blending, there’s just a ton going on.
Westbound & Down’s Solera Saison features vibrant tartness upfront, emphasizing lemons and peaches, along with some tropical leanings from the ferment. But there’s a lot of depth underpinning the core citrus acidity here. Significant barrel time provides sweet vanillas and almond oakiness, along with subtle notes approximating oaked Chardonnay. The core saison yeasts exhibit welcome peppery phenolics and a lean bitterness. Overall, the many different stains of yeasts and bacteria, plus the Solera blending, provide an exceptional experience of fruit, fermentations, and barrel-aging complexity, all wrapped up in a super-drinkable beer.
The funk here is subtle and inviting, and the edges of this beer stay quite smooth. Lots to dig into, capped by a lingering herbal and peppery bitterness to finish things.
Solera Saison is drinking beautifully, but this is sturdy enough for a little more cellaring time. The fruit, lemony tartness, and vanilla oak keep this super flexible for food pairings.
Westbound & Down got their start back in 2015, starting off with a group of friends who wanted to start a brewery making high-quality beverages with deep Colorado roots. While we had been really enjoying the few things we’d managed to sample from Westbound & Down to date, 2019 was arguably the year that this brewery established itself on the larger national beer map. At the latest Great American Beer Festival in 2019, the brewery took home two silver medals. Their Westbound Double IPA (using Vic Secret, Galaxy, Mosaic, and Cryo Mosaic hops) took home silver in the super-competitive Imperial India Pale Ale category. And Double Barrel Louie (a barrel-aged English-style barleywine aged in port-finished rye barrels and finished in Breckenridge bourbon barrels on whiskey-soaked peaches—yum) won silver in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer category. Westbound & Down were also named the 2019 Great American Beer Festival’s Midsize Brewpub of the Year.
Westbound & Down Brewing Co. is based in the historic town of Idaho Springs, Colorado, in Clear Creek County. Their 15-barrel stainless-steel brewhouse was custom built by JV Northwest in Canby, Oregon, and is capable of producing around 1,560 barrels of ale each year. Westbound & Down’s beers are all non-filtered, with fermentation serving to naturally clarify the beers. They exclusively use pure Clear Creek County water, which is produced by Colorado snowmelt and rain runoff and gets filtered on site, while the brewery’s electrical needs are exclusively met by wind-powered resources.
Westbound and Down currently operates exclusively out of their Idaho Springs brewpub, which features a wide range of the brewery’s house beers, from Don’t Hassle The “Hef” to a Mocha Imperial Stout, plus a highly enticing food menu: poutine, pork cracklins, green chile cheese fries, fried green tomatoes, Nashville hot fried chicken… The brewpub is open daily from 11am to 10pm aside from Thanksgiving and Christmas. Westbound & Down also has an off-site barrel program for their mixed-culture fermentations that isn’t yet open to the publich on a regular basis. For the latest hours and info, visit westboundanddown.com.
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