The American farmhouse ale culture doesn’t hold a candle to its overseas compatriots—the country isn’t old enough to stand up to the sahtis of Finland or the saisons and grisettes of Belgium. Instead, American brewers have taken the classic styles born in the pastures of Europe and shot them into modernity. Outer Range finds its inspiration in French antiquity, bringing the bière de garde up to speed for the innovative Colorado beer scene in the form of Final Summit.
Final Summit starts by nailing the classic traits. First, it’s 7% ABV, a strength that traditionally comes from a lengthy, seasonal cellaring. Outer Range isn’t so devoted in its adaptation, but its strain of French yeast hits the same notes nonetheless. It hits first with a crack of pepper, giving way to more complex flavors of star anise, coriander, and clove. Those Corsican flavors are softened by the peppy lemon and a persistent Chardonnay oakiness.
Final Summit borrows from the popular bière blanche wheat beers of Paris. It could pass as an Americanized version of Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc. That itself is an update of the farmhouse style, so when Outer Range gets its hands on it, the brewery resolves to take things further, going even hazier and paler. It never verges into “juicy” territory, but there is a bundle of tropical hop refreshment mixed into the brew.
These cultural threads weave together at a point of ultimate satisfaction. The aroma and phenols have that ancient charm, the finish is grainy and pale, and the body is thick and running with citrus. The American saison might not have much to offer in terms of history, but Final Summit still shows what brewers stateside can do with old world traditions.