Saison Meer: Lilac (Wine Barrel Aged) | Afterthought
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It has finally happened. After some delay (mainly due to the pandemic), Afterthought finally has a taproom to call their own. Featuring an extensive tap and bottle list, saison lovers in the area have their home. Mike Thorpe has been saving beer from each of his releases since 2019, so there’s no shortage of bottle options available for consumption. With so many options available, go for the wine barrel-aged beer. This guidance has led me to picking Saison Meer: Lilac (Wine Barrel Aged).
Afterthought has been a favorite of the podcast’s since before they even made a commercial beer. Their Saison Auran killed it, eventually landing at number one on my year-end 2017 list. They’ve been a presence on my year-end list every year since, usually in the upper tiers of it. They’ve won a FoBAB medal (gold, no less). The quality and consistency borders on insane. The only reason I left the taproom after my recent visit was because I had other things to do that day. Otherwise I would’ve tried even more.
Saison Meer: Lilac uses all Midwestern ingredients, including lilacs from Lombard, IL, and aged everything in white wine barrels. It pours a lovely yellow color, bordering on gold. Unlike some saisons you may have had, Lilac remains completely clear, with my finger in full view through the glass. A finger of puffy white head stays around for a bit. Bubbles keep rising to the surface of the beer the entire time, almost like those bubbly Christmas lights you put on the tree. In short, a technically flawless looking beer. One for the TV commercial.
And this extends to the aroma. A big hit of lemon greets you, followed by a subtle-but-there floral note. It doesn’t get too perfumy or approach that wood knick-knack place in the mall and really adds to the lemon note. The white wine adds some nice grape notes to everything, and some faint biscuit, bread, and grassy notes persist. While some saisons have a certain funky quality to them, Saison Meer: Lilac has none, so those funk-adverse can drink confidently. A balanced and delightful aroma.
Two things stick out most while drinking Saison Meer: Lilac – the tartness and the dryness. That lemon nose flavor carries over to the beer itself, producing a lovely tartness that nips at the tongue. Think something akin to a Berliner Weise with no syrup or bomb-inducing fruit. Some light flower notes hover over your palate while drinking as well. The barrel both rounds the beer off and, most noticeably, adds some dryness to everything. Some white wine, biscuit and bread notes reside in the underbelly of the beer as well. Delicate, complex and delicious.
Saison Meer: Lilac comes in at a very high carbonation, with all these flavors moving fast across the tongue and only the tartness really hanging around. Of course the dry finish of it helps out as well. The whole beer comes across as a tongue pillow, softly resting on the tongue long enough to hit you with some tartness and then moving on.
Before you know it the entire 500 mL bottle will be gone. The lemon tartness backed with a very dry finish combine to form a Voltron-like force of consumption. The 5% ABV means it won’t knock you on your ass and you can either enjoy another one or try to be productive with the rest of your day. The addition of the lilacs adds a nice counterpoint to the tartness, bringing it back down with some earthiness.
If you’re a fan of saisons you’ll love Saison Meer: Lilac and the Afterthought taproom. The beer selection – on draft and in bottles – rivals craft beer bars for the sheer number of options. There are some dry-hopped saisons available, so those inclined towards IPAs have something to drink here as well. The taproom itself is cozy and quaint, giving off some serious living-room-chill vibes. The best thing about it, however, are the prices. Reasonable and affordable are two things that rarely exist in the current craft beer climate, but Afterthought offers both along with a seriously excellent product. Look for this beer – or something else from them – on my year end list because you know it’s going to be there.
Afterthought is available through their website as well as beer shops across the city, with the Beer Cellar in Glen Ellyn getting the most variety. Taproom is open now at 218 E St Charles Rd in Lombard, so say hi if you go. I’ll probably be there somewhere.