There are a lot of great seasonal releases from BC throughout the year, surely into the hundreds. I can say with a high level of confidence though that Sartori is number one. There simply isn’t another seasonal release that causes such a frenzy every year for BC beer nerds. Driftwood quietly slips a few cases into the local private stores, and moments later chaos breaks out, for only a few hours until they are sold out for the year once again.
The name Sartori Harvest comes from the fact that the hops used in this beer (centennial hops) are, well, harvested from Sartori Farm in Chilliwack BC. What makes this IPA so special is that it is made from these freshly picked hops, not from dried hops like the vast majority of IPAs. Because of this, Sartori (and other fresh-hopped IPA’s) can only be produced at harvesting time, as the hops needs to be used very quickly – just like fresh vegetables, they will go bad within a week or two. The taste difference can be likened to using dried spices versus using fresh spices: in a good recipe, it’s a significant improvement. Add to that the fact that big IPA’s are hugely hops-centric and it’s easy to see why the fresh hopped IPA should be significantly better than a standard, dry-hopped IPA.
Being that I missed the boat on Sartori last year, I had a lot of pent up expectations for this year’s batch (which I nearly missed again). So was it worth the wait, and the extra hour of driving? I’m going with yes – this is a fantastic batch of beer. I’ll go into depth below. Here’s the stats on the bottle I’m drinking: It’s 7% ABV, and the IBU is not published to my knowledge but it’s probably in the 65ish range. This bottle was filled on Friday (Sept 20th). It’s Tuesday. That’s pretty damn fresh, and it’s the best way to drink a fresh-hopped IPA for sure.
Appearance: Sartori pours a rich golden yellow with big fluffy head and good retention.
Smell: The hops are floral, very fresh, plus orange and a little lemon. Really pleasant – no off-notes at all, just fresh fragrance – like big green leaves. No bitterness.
Taste: Typically we describe hoppy beers in terms of other flavours – be it citrus fruits, woody notes, or floral qualities. Well to be honest, after spending a few minutes studying what I was tasting, the best description I can come up with is that it tastes like hops. Truly and more accurately than usually possible, this beer has a real hops flavour in it. You can taste the greenness of the hops, the oils are balanced and gentle, yet rich. There is very little bitterness for the amount of flavour. I would say it’s primarily orange citrus as far as influential flavours, with a background of both rose petals and rose stems.
Finish: It finishes with a gentle drying bitterness that isn’t overly potent but does last. The oils are left behind to some extent. It is earthy, but not woody.
In terms of a score this beer deserved pretty damn high ratings. It’s just extremely enjoyable. Please note that unlike most IPA’s that IPA-lovers go nuts for, this isn’t really a huge one – the bitterness isn’t as intense as many DIPA’s. It’s definitely hop-forward but it’s not a hop-monster. Quality above quantity here, and the quality is absolutely top-notch!