At the last minute, I ended up getting to attend a beer trade show. It's one of those fun little "hazards of the job." I got asked to help pour for an importer who is distributed through Beechwood/Specialty Beer in Milwaukee. I was able to attend last year and it was pure beer bacchanalia - lots and lots of samples; this year I had to drive so I had to seriously watch what I was drinking. Therefore, I had to be very picky about which beers I tried: Malheur, Drei Fonteinen, and of course some awesome Aecht Schlenkerla.
But, of all things, the hit of the evening was a beer from a brewery that no one had ever heard of: Saint Somewhere. No one had ever heard of this brewery because it is a tiny producer in Tarpon Springs, Florida and the importer is more well-known for its Belgian fare. The brewery started up only a few years ago and its availability is really limited right now as the brewery is struggling to meet demand.
Yet, I spoke with a number of retailers, bars and beer geeks who instantly fell in love with the Saison Athene. While typical of the style in its moderate lightness and supreme drinkability, it has a bold spicing that makes it assertive without being over the top. It would be a perfect compliment to just about any meal and is well-positioned both as a complex beer-geek-drool inducer, but also as an easily approachable brew. Saint Somewhere's other offering, the Lectio Devina, was also well-received. A darker Belgian ale, it had a nice earthy, fruit complexity reminiscent of a dubbel. Look for these beers to start showing up in the area and bringing some more solid Belgian styling.
I will admit that while I like both of the Saint Somewhere beers, I am looking forward to seeing HaandBryggeriet's Haandbakk Sour Ale available anywhere I can get it. "Amazing", sour, insanely dry, malty, acetic, doesn't even begin to explain what going on this bottle.