Brewview#43: Beautiful River Belgian-Style Saison by Big Ditch Brewing Company

It sure does feel good to be home and in front of my computer with an excellent Buffalo brewed beer sitting next to me waiting to go down the hatch. It was a busy few days at work, so I’ll raise this one up to all my coworkers! What beer are we drinking tonight you ask? It originates at Big Ditch Brewing Company in downtown Buffalo, Beautiful River a Belgian-Style Saison. This will be my first time imbibing a Saison and writing about it, so I am excited for something new. I have recently started to reach out a bit more to local breweries and Big Ditch was one that got back to and informed me that Beautiful River was just released as a Spring seasonal. So here we are friends. Glad to be writing this and glad to have you reading, thank you as always.

Big Ditch beers always have names that align with Buffalo’s history, Beautiful River is holds no exception. Big Ditch states:

‘A popular version of the origin of the city of Buffalo’s name was a mispronunciation of a Frenchman’s exclamation upon first sight of the Buffalo River. Beautiful River( or Beau Fleuve) is a refreshing Belgian-style farmhouse ale featuring floral, pear, and pepper notes, which was brewed to commemorate the origins of our city.’

So now we know how Beautiful River acquired its name and what to expect when enjoying a pint.

I think it’s time to begin our deep dive.

The Beer: Beautiful River Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale

ABV: 5.6% IBU: 27

Hops: Styrian Goldings

Malts: Pilsner



Entering the River

When cracking open my can of Beautiful River I noticed the aromas aren’t as easy to pick up on from a distance. But while getting ready to type this up, as it sat in my glass for a couple minutes, I began to pick up on the aromas. Though very subtle, they do fill the air quite nicely.

The aromas I am picking up on are exactly what Big Ditch mentioned in their introduction of Beautiful River. But to fully experience all three points, floral, pear, and pepper, I almost had to go in waves. As cheesy as it may sound, really take the time and you will experience a very refreshing wave of aromas. In the beginning, when taking a very soft whiff I got mostly pear aromas. As I continued to breathe deeper I was able to appreciate the floral notes which led to an interesting nose tingling pepper aroma. So take all three of these, put them together and they flow in such a smooth manner.

With that being said, I am not under the impression the aromas arose from the malts. And this is my first known experience with this hop, Styrian Goldings, but when reading up on it what did I see? Known for aromas of floral, earthy, and sweet spice. Pretty much everything I just mentioned. Quite amazing how much one hop can bring about so much.

Moving on the from aromas, to appearance. Beautiful River holds a pale straw color with a very strong haze, which if I had to guess comes from the Wheat malts. Not a terribly big head, one to two finger widths with minimal retention. Truly though, the hazy pale straw color is very enticing and in my opinion shows the depth of different flavors that are to come.

Drink the Beer Not the River

I’d say it’s a good choice not to drink water straight from the Buffalo River, or if you must in minimal amounts. In all honestly, with having only one hop (though malts do play a role in flavor as well) Beautiful River has a very interesting taste to it.

Similar to the aromas, the flavor of this beer come in waves and again I encourage you to take the time to enjoy them all. Do not miss a piece to the puzzle that is the Beautiful River. I truly love a beer that has a transforming flavor throughout the entire sip and Beautiful River has that.

So let’s take a ride down the River. In the beginning of the sip I am noticing a floral dominance with notes of pear in the background. As things move along, such as they do in life, I begin to notice the pepper notes that Big Ditch spoke of and that kind of transitions into a pear aftertaste. Though this beer is not at all bitter, it does hold a significant after taste. For example, my daughter briefly woke in the middle of this paragraph and needed some cuddles to fall back asleep and the entire time I noticed what I’m thinking is a pear flavor. There might be some floral notes in there, but mostly I am getting pear. Again, just as the aromas, most of these flavors arose from the Styrian Hops, though I can attest to some malt characteristic in the flavor. Minimal, but it is there.

Where I do notice the presence of the malts is the mouthfeel. One word to describe it, Belgian. Though I’m unsure of the yeast used, I’m thinking the Munich and Wheat malts really bring that out in Beautiful River. The Wheat malts hold a softer rounder mouthfeel and the Munich malts are known to ‘scream German!’ A very light mouthfeel, but I still feel a more malty presence.

End of the River

So our trip down the river has come to an end. What do I think? I’ve never been a big Saison person, they never really grasped hold of me. Big Ditch’s Beautiful River has me wading in the water, if not maybe nipple deep more towards the deeper end. I enjoyed the transforming nature of the aromas and flavor. Not to mention the overall feeling of this beer makes me think Belgian-style. I think it’s easy to notice Beautiful River is most likely one of my most favorite Saisons.

Thank you Big Ditch for concocting such an enticing beer, I really enjoyed writing this!

Thanks to all my readers, I am forever grateful. Whenever I see even the slightest increase in viewers, it turns a frown upside down. Please feel free to comment whether it’s here, or where I link it to my Twitter and Facebook. Cheers!

PS: Next up in my scopes is Dragonship DIPA by 42 Norther Brewing Company. Keep an eye out early next week. 😀

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