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iO SaisonOne of the things that first stood out to me about Jolly Pumpkin’s iO Saison was the label. When I saw that it was brewed with hibiscus (the flower that makes jamaica or habiscus tea, the pink floral drink found next to the horchata at many local taco shops) I knew I had to try this beer. In addition to the hibiscus it also has rose hips and rose petals.

Beernews.org has a bit of info on Jolly Pumpkin’s Baudelaire Beer series and the artist behind the labels.

iO Saison is 6.8% ABV and comes in 750ml bottles. This one is labelled “Blend 5. Bottled 1-26-2011”. I received it in a beer trade from someone in Michigan, but soon after we set up our trade it showed up at some of the better bottle shops in town for around $16.

iO Saison pours a deep pink, not quite red with an off white head. The smell is tart and funky with a slight hibiscus fruitiness. The taste is similar, it starts tart and a little sweet, reminiscent of the taco shop jamaica of my youth, the sweetness reminds me of mixed berries as well, I can’t identify anyone berry I would say this tastes like, but rather it has a berry like flavor to it. There’s also some earthy funkiness and citrus and lemon flavors. The floral taste takes over, I can only assume from the rose petals (and maybe rose hips, I’m not sure I know what they taste like), and it finishes very dry, so dry I feel like all of the moisture is gone from my tongue and cheeks. There’s a pretty bitter, floral and slightly herbal aftertaste, like when you put flowers in a salad that lingers for quite a while, begging me to take another sip, but not at all unpleasant.

This is a saison that has some hints of being a sour beer, but the tartness is pretty well restrained, it’s a very mild sour. Thoroughly enjoyable, refreshing and not hard to drink at all. I was a little worried it would be too floral, but the flavors all compliment each other nicely.