It was the type of autumn day that a man must live to know that he was there. He can view it in a Van Gogh painting, the “Wheat Stacks with Reaper”, and many of the like. But he’ll never truly understand unless he takes the leather-handled reaper into his own two hands and slashes at field upon endless fields of early autumn wheat. As I, Jean Luc and my eternal friend, Pierre, retired from the fields on this particular day, having reaped harvest wheat from before sun-up until late in the majestic purple-hued dusk, we stopped at our steady haunt, the Libertine, for sustenance. By this time the staff at the Libertine knew our order better than ourselves, and within mere seconds there stood at our table a plate of meats, cheeses, baguette and most importantly a tall pot of the only beer capable of standing up to such a day of rich, rewarding labor: Rockmill Brewery’s “Saison”. As I took my first deep, long draught of Rockmill’s Saison I lived anew my day of laboring in the fields. It was the autumn day of dreams, with an unbroken sky of breath-stealing blue and warm, though not hot, sun to keep my neck and hands from requiring cover. As Pierre backhanded the crisp, hoppy froth of Rockmill Saison from his own mouth he reminded me of why we were here, in a backwater village west of Charleville Mezieres, to wile away our days in the fields as hired laborers. Pierre and I were not born to the fields as all of those noble, crooked-backed villagers we now sought refuge in the company of. We met at university many years ago, our friendship forged over debates about who was the greatest philosopher, Sartre or Nietzsche, of Dumas’s masterpieces, and of the folly of Napoleon attacking the Russian winter. Those early days were spent with forgettable though affordable beers of the city. None truly satiated a man’s spirit like Rockmill Saison. Whether it was the misplaced energy of youth or the poorly-crafted beers we consumed like so many empty-headed and silly-hearted coeds (i.e. chicks we banged), Pierre and I found ourselves in soul-crushing positions as government workers, on the pension fast-track. It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times. Though we seemed to be sailing through life with good friends, comely wenches, and plenty of ales, we knew something was missing. On a Saturday trip into the countryside to make sport of quail, a local boy served us our first blessed pot of Rockmill Saison. As the sparse but delicious brew began to course through our veins we felt alive for the first time. Its golden hops demanded we surrender our trite and meaningless existence, trading it all for the honor and discipline of a life in the sun and the fields. And so it was that we sold our apartments in the St. Germain/Luxembourg district of Paris and took a loft above a barn in this quintessential northern France farming community. We require little but air, honest work, the smile of a farm maiden, and of course shitloads of Rockmill Saison. It is the wellspring from which our spiritual awakening flows. Without Rockmill Saison it would be as though we never were.
I really don’t know if the above story is true. Once when I was in college a guy named Lucien from one of the Baltic republics, sinister looking little scamp with a waxed moustache and greasy trousers, saw me coming out of the library early of a Friday evening on a holiday weekend. He asked me if “You want we make go to discotheque?”. After politely refusing, he then recommended I take this small piece of paper with a Degas painting on it upon my tongue. Given that I am not the type of person who turns someone down twice, I placed the small square on my tongue and bid Lucien g’day. I had to run back into the library before it closed to retrieve the keys I left on a study table. That is the last thing I remember. When building security found me on Tuesday morning I was in the French Literature section lying upon a pile of books saturated with urine. I could quote entire Moliere plays and I was wearing a beret fashioned from Friday’s copy of the school newspaper. But that is neither here nor there my friends. The point is that I recently drank my bottle of Rockmill Brewery Saison. I must divulge the following before I continue: I really don’t care that much for Saisons. I don’t dislike them, but they are certainly not my favorite. That being said, this Saison is kicking ass and taking names. It is refreshing, it is delicious, and chicks dig it. I don’t possess the requisite bullshit to discuss beer in all the preferred beer-nerd nomenclature and I’m not sure I understand how to quaff shit. As stated Saisons are not my thing per se, but this one is “right”, and I know enough to acknowledge that. I would liken it to your first french kiss. You may not know what you are doing or what you are looking for, and you soon realize you are licking a soppy sponge that may or may not taste like cigarettes and Jolly Ranchers…..but yet it is still right. You know enough to know that. If this Saison is enough to make my mouth ecstatic, then I’m confident it will taste ball-rattlingly good to seasoned Saison fans.
If you take nothing else from these tasting notes, you should take the following: Cheese-eating surrender monkey French everywhere should be quaking in their stockings. Queue up the Toby fucking Keith, because Rockmill gives us reason anew “to be prowwwd ta be an Meriken…” You frolicking little frogs cannot even out-Saison us anymore. This could be the 1976 Judgment of Paris all over again, only this time an outfit from southeast Ohio is going to take home the gold. You heard me right fuckers, “southeast Ohio”. At least when you are losing to California you can take solace in the fact that California is pretty fucking cool, and Jerry Lewis probably hangs out there. Not so much with Ohio. And this isn’t Cleveland, Cincinnati, or even Columbus. This is Lancaster, Jack. If this Saison wants to come and storm the beach at Normandy, it will. Fair warning.