Saturday, July 28, 2012

July 28th, 2012 - Balanced Saison

Hey there fellow beer drinkers and head bangers!  The Meista here with another pairing for you... this one goes out to my brother, Dain (and was actually his suggestion) and to Cody D. from Maximum Distortion.  Today I am pairing Van Halen's 1995 album, "Balance" with Ovila Saison, a collaborative ale made by Sierra Nevada and the monks from the Abbey of New Clairvaux.  The driving motif here is "balance," both with the beer and with the album.  A quote from my brother regarding this pairing: "I immediately thought of the first track "The Seventh Seal," which actually starts out with some chanting monks! You can talk about the "balance" between the malty, caramel flavors, and the spicy undertones or some such!"  So let's get cracking on the bullshit, shall we?

Those clever brewers at Sierra Nevada decided to get together with some equally clever monks and come up with a tasty ale for clever brew aficionados (and not so clever beer freaks like myself.)  :)  The result: the Ovila Saison.  Saison is French for "season."  Saisons are traditionally low alcohol, seasonal, refreshing, pale ales that were made for the French-speaking farmer workers in Belgium during the hot, long days of the harvest.  Modern day saisons tend to be higher in alcohol content (especially in the U.S.) as they are bottle conditioned; the Ovila comes in at 7.0% ABV.  It pours a peachy amber with a nice, 1-finger frothy head.  The nose is floral with notes of warm and aromatic spices and a hint of citrus.  With a wonderful blend of malts, sublte hops, and spices, the Ovila is a flavorful saison with notes of green grass, sweet fruit, caramel, and an underlying dry spiciness.   The balance of these complex flavors and notes is really quite astonishing... and refreshing!  It is very smooth, very drinkable, and goes down easy with a very clean finish.

"Balance" is the last great album by Van Halen in my humble opinion, which is sad considering it was released 17 years ago.  It is also the last album Sammy Haggar would record with the band.  With an almost pop sensibility to their approach on this album, Sammy, Michael and the Van Halen brothers created a well-balanced, well-layered, and complex rocker with "Balance."  Songs like opener, "The Seventh Seal" and "Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do)," "Amsterdam," "Big Fat Money," and "Feelin'" are straight-ahead rocking monsters while "Can't Stop Lovin' You," "Not Enough," "Aftershock," and "Take Me Back (Deja Vu)" are nice, upbeat pop/rock tracks.  Eddie's solo on "Not Enough" is one of my favorites of his... not just on this album, but as a career piece.  And then there's the very cool instrumental piece, "Baluchitherium" where Eddie's tone and guitar mastery really shine.  The musicianship and sound production on this album is top-notch and the song placement flows well and is extremely well-balanced... perfect for the Ovila Saison's complex and multi-layerd flavors on a hot summer's day!

So enough of my "bullshit" beer babble... go get an Ovila Saison of your own, throw on some Van Halen "Balance," and experience the might and balance yourself of this beer and this band!  Cheers... happy weekend!!

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