Big Sky All Souls Ale 2013

Reviewed by on December 22, 2014 in Holiday Guide

The Details

  • Brewery: Big Sky Brewing Company

  • Origin: Missoula, MT, US

  • Rated On: December 20, 2014

  • Best Before: N/A

  • ABV: 10.0%

  • Ideal Temperature: cool to cellar temperature

  • Style: Saison

  • Rating: GOOD !

The Review

Montana’s Big Sky Brewery is once again represented in the holiday guide, this time for a rather involved, more solemn offering.  All Souls Ale is a dedication to the idea of ‘peace on Earth, good will towards (all) men’, i.e. all souls, if that’s how you wanna look at it.  Anyways, this is the 2013 edition, an ‘Imperial Saison’, with profits going to a local charity.

This hefty, 750ml caged and corked bottle pours a hazy, medium golden amber hue, with one finger of puffy, tightly foamy, and kind of bubbly eggshell white head, which leaves some heretofore unseen pomegranate flesh lace around the glass as things slowly recede.

It smells of biscuity, grainy pale malt, earthy, slightly spicy yeast, caramelized apples, subtle barnyard funk, vanilla wafers, grassy, weedy hops, and a soft estery booziness. The taste is as sweet as the nose alluded to, and fruit-dominated up front, with pear compote, cold applesauce, and a hint of banana, with a grainy and equally sugary pale malt following up closely, compounded by a more subdued yeast and funk measure, tame leafy, hay-like hops, and a looming, but rather well-behaved alcohol warming. The bubbles are fairly understated in their low-key frothiness, the body a dense medium weight, and actually pretty smooth, with a nascent creaminess evolving as things warm up a tad. It finishes on the sweet side, natch, as the fruity esters seem to find another higher gear, the malt sort of washed over by the same, and all things yeasty, hoppy, and boozy melding into a minor astringent singularity, one that keeps mostly to itself.

Well, the original point of a saison or farmhouse ale (as even elucidated on the label) is prolonged drinkability, but at 20-proof, I would imagine even that rarefied target market of so-called fit kings would have issues sessioning this one. Not that the brewers here haven’t done their finest to near-fully obfuscate all that extra alcohol – they certainly have. It’s just that I fear for my own soul if I keep sampling high-octane beauties like this one during the season that built them. Or, with apologies to Bad Religion – with this, we may indeed have peace on Earth and global communion.

Brady White

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