Jade Otter (2014) Tasting Notes

IMG_3841Original Post: Jade Otter Brew Day
Style: Saison
Brew Date: August 13, 2014
Tasting Date: September 8, 2014
ABV: 3.1%
IBUs: 24


This beer had a very nice, fluffy white head, but it collapsed pretty quickly. The color is a sort of honey-tan. Maybe a little darker than you’d expect a low gravity, all base grain beer, but I believe Maris Otter is one of the darker base grains.

Speaking of Maris Otter, it comes through strong in the aroma. There is lots of fresh bread. Behind that, there are hints of somewhat generic hoppyness. I’m not sure how else to describe it. It is clean and doesn’t seem like a muddling of multiple varieties (which it’s not), but it doesn’t seem like any distinct variety of hop that I can think of.

In the first sip, the Maris Otter shines. It is clean and malty up front, but the flavor does not linger. It is sharply dry and hop bitterness comes in as the beer travels back. By the time it is halfway down your throat, it is completely cleaned up and begs for another sip. The fruity fermentation character comes through briefly just before it is all wiped out.

I have been using this yeast (White Labs’ Saison II) a lot lately and its flavor does not come through in this beer quite as much as it has in any of the other beers I’ve used it for. I normally pair it up with much milder Pilsner malt. The esters get a little lost in all the malty Maris Otter goodness. That is not a problem, it is very interesting, though. Comparing this to a similar beer made with all Pilsner malt or even an American Pale malt would give a good argument against the silly people who think “2 row base malt is all the same.”

These Pacific Jade hops are really nice. They aren’t flashy, they play well with the other ingredients. I love all these bold new varieties, but it’s nice to know that there are still new hops coming out for beers other than IPA. I could see using these hops in a wide range of beers. They have some citrus character, but it isn’t grapefruit. It is more orange with lemon notes. It works very well with the malt. I think these hops could be great in a nice Summer wheat beer. Hoppier than a classic Hefeweizen, sure, but not hop bomb. If you’re looking for a nice, slightly off the beaten path hop to play a supporting role in your beer, I’d give these a try.

This is, overall, just a really refreshing beer. It is begs to be drunk quickly, and at 3.1% ABV, that is just fine. I was initially disappointed that the Jade hops weren’t more distinct, but with Maris Otter taking a lot of the spotlight, I don’t think the super fruity hops like the Nelson Sauvin that I use in Table Cat would work. It is purely luck that these ingredients work so well together. I bought these hops for last year’s batch based solely on the name with no other knowledge. This is definitely a huge step up from what I did last year.

I would not put this on quite the same level as Table Cat, which is still my favorite super low gravity beer, but this quite refreshing and pairs well with foods. It is a perfect beer to have with dinner when you only want one. It would also work great for a weekend afternoon session beer. I think I’ll be repeating this every year. Maybe I’ll continue experimenting with different yeasts every year, but the hopping schedule worked out perfectly this time.


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