Craft Beer Corner: Jailhouse Brewing Reprieve

Food & Dining


JailHouse Brewing Reprieve, Saison/Farmhouse Ale 6.7% ABV

(Editor’s note: Cory Byrom, local craft beer enthusiast and home brewer from Peachtree City, shares his opinions on craft beer from all over the world.)

Boasting crisp, tart flavors and full of suds like few other beer styles, saisons are really more appropriate for spring and summer drinking. They’re refreshing, fruity, and easy to drink, making them perfect for a warm day. But down here in Georgia, where summer doesn’t end until mid-October and temperatures occasionally find their way up to the high 60s even in the winter, it’s easy to go against the grain. And so I find myself sipping on a Jailhouse Brewing Reprieve on this chilly November night.

Saisons, sometimes called Farmhouse Ales, are one of the most accessible Belgian ale styles. They originated in the French-speaking region of Belgium as a beer to serve seasonal farm workers after a long day’s work. They are meant to be flavorful, but refreshing, not too heavy, and with a fairly high amount of alcohol to ease those sore muscles. Many Belgian styles can be off-putting for the casual beer drinker due to their funky flavors, but saisons are inviting.

Saisons tend to be highly carbonated, and Jailhouse Brewing’s Reprieve is no exception to that rule. Even with a careful pour, this thing has a huge, pillowy head sitting on top. The yeast imparts a lot of the flavor in this beer, and as such it’s left unfiltered, giving you a light golden beer that’s cloudy even beyond the carbonation. The aroma is bright and citrusy, with slightly spicy notes of pepper and spring flowers. The yeast gives off an almost champagne-like character in the nose, no doubt aided by all those bubbles.

One of the interesting things about saisons in general is that so much of the unique flavor comes directly from the yeast. Sometimes spice or fruit is added, but by and large, when you sip a saison you’re tasting a very short ingredient list. The yeast can impart flavors of citrus, peppercorns, clove, apples, and a whole host of others, simply by fiddling with the temperature it ferments at. Reprieve is very traditional for the style, hitting a lot of those notes and finishing very dry. The hops take a backseat to the fruit and spice character, just like you’d expect from this style. I can’t speak for what all is in this recipe, but my guess is not very much. It’s all the better for it.

This is a style that was close to dead just a few years ago, but it’s suddenly been revitalized thanks to the work of many American craft breweries. I, for one, am eternally grateful for that, and Jailhouse’s version is a fine introduction if you’re unfamiliar. Perhaps because it was generally unknown in the recent past, the style also lends itself well to tinkering with. I’ve had saisons infused with grapefruit, guava, ginger, even cucumber. Jailhouse Brewing’s Reprieve is a straightforward interpretation that lets the Belgian yeast do the heavy lifting, delivering a refreshing, crisp, and delicious beer. Who wants to wait around until spring for that, anyway? – A

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(Cory Byrom is a stay-at-home dad to three young kids. He likes loud music and strong drinks, and in his spare time he enjoys listening to other people’s stories. He hosts a monthly storytelling show in Atlanta called The Iceberg.)

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