When two graduates of the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago paired their brand new Brewing Science degrees with a nationally acclaimed homebrew recipe, they were already setting themselves up for success. Together they founded Funkwerks in Fort Collins, Colorado. Funkwerks began with a focus on farmhouse style beers and turned that award-winning homebrew recipe into a gold medal saison, taking home the top prize in 2012 and 2017 at the Great American Beer Festival.
Right off the pour, it’s easy to see why Funkwerks Saison has won so many awards. It is totally transparent and a perfect, bright gold. A jetstream of pinprick bubbles rise up the glass to meet a crisp, white foam head. I can certainly understand how the beautiful appearance could bias judges in favor of this saison—it is certainly working on me.
Leaning over the glass reveals a pretty typical saison aroma. It is bright and full of complexity from the yeasty esters with hints of banana bread, fresh herbs, and citrus. The aroma may not be shocking, but it scores almost as well for me as the appearance. The only piece I’m missing is a punch of barnyard funk, as the beer smells a little too sweet without it.
Funkwerks Saison is a strong offering—you don’t simply luck into GABF gold medals—but the lack of funkiness lets the beer’s sweetness shine too brightly.”
Saisons that feature the strong banana bread flavors of cinnamon, clove and, well, banana, are not typically my style due to the inherent sweetness it conjures on my palate. It’s the main reason I stay away from Hefeweizens entirely, and Funkwerks Saison definitely leans in that direction, confirming my suspicions after wafting the aroma. The saving grace is a massive hit of flavor from the hops and other aspects of the brewery’s special house yeast. Those big notes of bright grass, citrus, pepper and herbs are accompanied by a prickly carbonation that washes some of that sweetness away. Even still, a little too much remains, and I’m left searching for the farmhouse flavors I love most from a saison.
Funkwerks Saison is a strong offering—you don’t simply luck into GABF gold medals—but the lack of funkiness lets the beer’s sweetness shine too brightly. The extra-punchy hops bring fruit and herb flavors that make for a worthwhile foil for the banana bread-like qualities, even if they don’t totally balance them out. While Funkwerks Saison is more good than great, grabbing a beer that boasts this kind of hardware is always a solid decision.