We Have The Hots For On Rotation's Jalapeno Saison.
Welcome to On Tap! Each week in this recurring feature, we'll take an in-depth look at one of the many beers now available in the suddenly crowded North Texas brew scene. The goal here is to look at these area beers without our local goggles on and to wonder aloud, “Is this beer good or do I just like it because it's local?” Should be a fun experiment, no? Cheers to that!
This week, we sipped on On Rotation's Jalapeno Saison.
Fast Facts on On Rotation Jalapeno Saison.
Style: Spice beer.
ABV: 8.1 percent.
International Bitterness Units (IBUs): 25.
Availability: Draft (brewery only).
As of last week, On Rotation is now a year old. Did you know that? Well, now you do, even if it means you missed their anniversary party last weekend. Oh, well. The good news is they didn't run out of beer, though! And, really folks, the temptation is strong with this Jalapeno Saison.
Background on Spiced, Herb, Vegetable (SHV) Beer.
It's important to remember that this style is sort of a derivative one meant to highlight the flavor additions built on top of the base beer. In this review, the base beer is saison, known for its wide latitude in ABV, a signature spicy character from the yeast and also a citrus twang. Saison isn't exactly the first style that I'd want to throw peppers on top of, but now that I've had it, the addition absolutely works.
Jalapeno Saison pours a golden straw color. There is a visible solid and firm white head that sticks around for about half a pour. There is no arguing with the superb clarity in this beer. It's nice to see a super clear saison-based beer, but it's important to note that clarity is by no means a requirement of the saison nor of the SHV style.
Let's talk about peppers — all of the peppers, but none of the heartburn and spice. I have made it known previously in this column that I am not totally in love with pepper beers. And I seem soft now that I'm going back on my word — again. Maybe I really do like them in the end — y'know, when they're done well. Regardless, On Rotation has a very solid pepper beer that's a pleasure to drink. The first sensation I get on the nose is that vegetal, meaty pepper scent. It's not pepper like you'd expect, though. It's all of the qualities of a jalapeno, but without the throat stab and coughing and crying like when you find yourself near someone chopping up a bunch of hot peppers. Behind the pepper notes, there are orange-ish citrus notes, followed by a warming sensation from the malt.
While pepper dominates the aroma, it splits first-dibs duties with that classic saison spice and funk that I love on the tongue. There's a bit of hotness from the pepper, but it doesn't overwhelm me at any point. The subtle spice from the pepper continues in aftertaste form, long after the swallow. But, again, while the pepper hangs around, it's enjoyable. About halfway through this first beer, I can feel my face warming — but it's not from the pepper heat. I think it's from the boozy 8.1 ABV. Other than the general fear of a sleepless night of heartburn-fueled tossing and turning, I feel the urge to order another pint. And I will, because this pepper beer is everything I want from a spice beer without any of the regret.
Jalapeno Saison is a deceptive beer from the mouthfeel perspective. It is very enjoyable despite the peppers, and the yeast has done its job. The beer finishes bright and dry. I would say that if this beer had finished more on the sweet side, it would not be a success. But this beer is a success.
Jalapeno Saison has me changing my mind on the SHV beer style. As a side note, I used to taste vegetables in On Rotation's earliest offerings. It was as if the Jalapeno ghost's vegetal essence creeped its way it to all of their early beers.
Speaking of early goings; While I was at On Rotation reviewing this beer, I ran into original On Tap author Colin Alsheimer, who currently lives in Boston but was back in town for a visit. So I thought it might be fun to get his take on this brew, too. Says Colin: “Well, as this is my first visit to On Rotation, I have to say, I'm quite impressed so far. The Jalapeno Saison showcases all the best parts of the jalapeno without being overbearing or overly spicy. It's the kind of beer that can easily be enjoyed in multiples, which is a rare find for a spice and vegetable brew. The 8.1 percent ABV sneaks up on you, and doesn't get overly sweet, which can be an issue with this style. I enjoyed this more than I thought I would!”
On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give On Rotation Jalapeno Saison a 9.
What's happening in the area brew scene?
• Friday, March 11. Bluebonnet Brew-Off at Irving Convention Center.
• Saturday, March 12. Dallas Brew Bus' March Tour.
• Saturday, March 12. Beer and Taco Pairing at 903 Brewers.
• Sunday, March 13. Four-Year Anniversary at Oak St. Drafthouse.
• Tuesday, March 15. Martin House Beer Dinner at Whiskey Cake.
• Sunday, March 20. LUCKapalooza at LUCK.
• Friday, April 1-2. Big Texas Beer Fest.
Previous On Tap Reviews:
• Peticolas' Royal Scandal: 10.
• Community's Mosaic IPA: 10.
• Peticolas' Velvet Hammer: 10.
• Community's Barrel-Aged Legion: 10.
• Community's Legion: 10.
• Deep Ellum's Barrel Aged Four Swords: 9.5.
• Lakewood's Saint Dymphna: 9.5.
• Peticolas' Lost Epic: 9.5.
• Community's Ascension Porter: 9.5.
• Lakewood's Temptress: 9.5.
• Lakewood's Goatman: 9.5.
• Community's Public Ale: 9.5.
• Peticolas' Thrilla in Brazilla: 9.5.
• Woodcreek's Bourbon Barrel Bock: 9.
• Lakewood's Wild Manimal: 9.
• Revolver's Blood & Honey: 9.
• Martin House's Imperial Texan: 9.
• Community's Trinity Tripel: 9.
• Peticolas' Irish Goodbye: 9.
• Four Corners' Block Party Porter: 9.
• Cedar Creek's Belgian Dubbel: 9.
• Peticolas' Ghost Of Alfred Brown: 8.5.
• Deep Ellum's Easy Peasy IPA: 8.5.
• Deep Ellum's Oak Cliff Coffee Ale: 8.5.
• Lakewood's Rock Ryder: 8.5.
• Rahr's Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer: 8.5.
• Lakewood's Raspberry Temptress: 8.5.
• Oak Highlands' Golden Mustache: 8.
• 903 Brewers' Crackin' Up: 8.
• Deep Ellum's Play Date: 8.
• Rahr & Sons Brewing Company's 11th Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout: 8.
• Bitter Sisters' Belgian Tripel: 8.
• Noble Rey's SteamPunk: 8.
• 903 Brewers' Citra On Top: 8.
• Bitter Sisters' Hissy Fit: 8.
• BrainDead's Gritz: 8.
• Community's Barrel-Aged Inspiration : 8.
• Cedar Creek's Fisticuffs: 8.
• Lakewood's Punkel: 8.
• Four Corners' El Chingon IPA: 8.
• Martin House's Day Break: 8.
• Deep Ellum's GOURDzilla: 8.
• Peticolas' The Duke (Aged 12 Months): 8.
• Deep Ellum's Pale Ale: 8.
• Revolver's Bock: 8.
• 903 Brewers' Sasquatch: 8.
• Peticolas' Wintervention: 8.
• Armadillo Ale Works' Brunch Money: 8.
• Martin House's Salsa Verde: 8.
• Cedar Creek's Spinning Mule Robust Porter: 8.
• Lakewood's Holiday Bonus: 8.
• Lakewood's Hop Trapp: 8.
• Four Corners' Notorious O.A.T.: 7.5.
• Noble Rey Golden Rey With Raspberries and Ginger: 7.5.
• On Rotation Saved By The Belma: 7.5.
• True Vine's Unicorn's Revenge: 7.5.
• Deep Ellum's Hop Seeker: 7.5.
• Four Corners' El Super Bee: 7.5.
• Lakewood's Hopochondria: 7.5.
• Three Nations GPA: 7.5.
• Martin House's Rubberneck Red: 7.5.
• Lakewood's Antigoon's Revenge: 7.5.
• Community's Texas Pils: 7.5.
• Lakewood's Zomer Pils: 7.5.
• Cedar Creek's Dankosaurus: 7.5.
• Martin House's Turtle Power: 7.
• Collective's Petite Golden Sour: 7.
• Shannon's Chocolate Stout: 7.
• BrainDead's Red Ale: 7.
• Community's Razzy Raspberry Witbier: 7.
• Martin House's Gateway Blonde Ale: 7.
• Bearded Eel's Purple Unicorn: 7.
• Shannon Brewing Company's Irish Red: 7.
• Texas Ale Project's Somethin' Shady: 7.
• Deep Ellum IPA: 7.
• Cedar Creek's The Lawn Ranger: 7.
• Martin House Brewing Company's Cellarman's Reserve IPA (Amarillo).: 7.
• Lakewood's Till & Toil: 7.
• 903 Brewers' The Chosen One: 7.
• 903 Brewers' Sugar On Top: 7.
• Martin House's Gateway XPA: 7.
• Armadillo Ale Work's Quakertown Stout: 7.
• Revolver's High Brass: 7.
• Community's Pale Ale: 7.
• Oak Highlands' Chump Change: 7.
• Martin House's River House: 7.
• Grapevine Craft Brewery's Sir William's Brown Ale: 7.
• Community's Funnel Cake Ale: 7.
• Audacity's Boss Raptor IPA: 7.
• Collective Brewing Project's Mom Azacca: 6.5.
• Four Corners' La Lechuza: 6.5.
• Revolver's Ironhead IPA: 6.5.
• 903 Brewers' Trot Line: 6.5.
• Peticolas' Operation Collaboration: 6.5.
• Grapevine Craft Brewery's Nightwatch: 6.5.
• Peticolas' The Duke: 6.5.
• Deep Ellum's Double Brown Stout : 6.5.
• Nine Bands' Cactus Cat: 6.
• Martin House's Kafkaesque: 6.
• Tupps' Cotton Mill Gold: 6.
• Rabbit Hole's Tweedleyum: 6.
• Rabbit Hole's Off With Your Red: 6.
• Cedar Creek's Elliott's Phoned Home Pale Ale: 6
• Grapevine Craft Brewery's Lakefire: 6
• Armadillo Ale Works' WunderMelon: 6
• Deep Ellum Pale Ale: 6
• Lakewood's La Dame Du Lac: 5.5.
• 903 Brewers' The Land Of Milk And Honey: 5.
• Deep Ellum's Numb Comfort: 5.
• Four Bullets' Black Jack Brown: 4.5.
• Four Corners Heart O' Texas: 4.
• Audacity's Sunset Boulevard: 4.
• Shannon Brewing Company's IPA: 4.
• Grapevine's Monarch: 4.
• Twin Peaks' Dirty Blonde: 3.
• Franconia Wheat: 3.
• Miller Lite: 1.