I strolled through the door just like any other day. Another stint at work was in the books and I was ready to unwind. I dropped my bag, hung up my hat and took my customary spot on the couch. My roommates were home, as usual, and the Angels game was on. Perfect.
"Hey man, what's up? You doin' anything tonight?" Simcoe asked.
"Nope, just another Wednesday night. How about you?" I replied.
"Well, there's something the guys and I would like to talk with you about. You have a minute?" he said, with a look of concern.
This was weird. We kept it free and easy around the apartment at all times and the level of seriousness in his demeanor put me on edge. The look on Simcoe's face didn't suggest that the guys were asking about getting a bigger TV or looking to host a kegger. This was serious. "Of course. Tell me you guys aren't moving out," I said.
"That's not it. Let me grab the fellas and we'll meet you out here."
"No problem, take your time," I replied.
As he went briskly down the hall, my mind raced. Did they find out? No, they couldn't have. How could they? I'd been careful to not leave a trace. I rarely brought it home, and usually only if I knew I was going to have the place to myself. "It's not that," I told myself. "No way, it's not that."
Simcoe popped out of the hallway with Citra and Chinook in tow. Citra was always the light, gregarious one of the bunch. When he wasn't wearing his customary smile, I knew this was not going to end well. Chinook, on the other hand, looked exactly the same as always; a little pissed off. Simcoe was the down-to-earth one of the bunch, leaving me, temporarily, to wonder where I fit in in this whole puzzle. Somehow, I knew I'd have plenty of time to think about it later.
Simcoe and Citra took a seat on the couch to my right while Chinook pulled up a chair of his own. Citra flashed me a look of good-natured kindness, but it was spotted by Chinook and he shot it down with a furrowing of his brow.
"So, there's no real easy way to talk about this, I guess," Simcoe started. "We're not very happy with what's going on and we've come to the conclusion that we need to approach you about it. I'm sure you know what we're talking about..."
Chinook muted the Angels game right as Trout was stepping into the box. Typical Chinook. "Um, no, I don't really know what you're implying." I struggled to find words because I knew what they were talking about, but was madly hoping it was something else.
"C'mon man, don't play us like that. Just fess up to it and we can move on," Chinook said.
"Yeah, it's better for all of us if we hear if from you first," Citra chimed in.
"Is this about me vetoing your fantasy baseball trade?" I asked, making one last attempt to dodge the bullet. A quick glance around their faces let me know that I wasn't getting out of this easily. I readjusted myself on the couch, leaned forward and let the eventual truth become immediate.
"Ok, guys, I have some explaining to do. First of all, you need to know that this is not about you. You've been there with me, through thick and thin, and I respect the hell out of all of you. I'm a hophead at heart, but even for the best of us, there has to be a change of pace sometimes. I'm sure you can all relate, right"
"No, we can't," said Simcoe as he spoke for the group. "We know about Saison and how you've been frequenting it. I mean, if it were Porter or Belgian Quad, we might be able to make some concessions. But Saison? Really?"
"I'm sure it's not what you'd expected or what you were hoping for. It took me by surprise, to be honest. I never thought I'd be able to pledge allegiance to anyone else. I guess I've changed a little," I said.
"Or a lot," blurted Citra. "What do you even see in Saison?"
"I don't know, a sort of refined elegance, I guess. I love what you guys bring to the table. Chinook, you're just so earthy. Citra, you make my palate wet just thinking about those floral, citrus notes. Simcoe, where would I be without your balance? But Saison is different. It's delicate. It's sweet at times with a sort of complexity, and I mean no disrespect, that I just don't find with you guys. Banana? Spices? A light but complex package? You guys have some amazing qualities, but Saison is just, well, different. I hope you can understand,"
I knew they couldn't. I'd spent years with Pales, IPA's and Imperials. While refreshing, and definitely something I still wanted, they just would never be able to relate. Who was I kidding? They'd spent years hopping up my palate. To think they could appreciate the sophisticated elegance of Saison was foolish. I'd said too much.
"No, we can't understand. All those tailgaters? All those dinners with your burger and fries? The evenings around the campfire? Does any of that even matter to you?" Simcoe asked with a snarl of hurt.
"Of course!" I shouted back, feeling the blood rush to my face. "Of course it does! Like I said, there are lot of tastes out there and I just started experimenting. I never though it'd come to this. It's not like it happens all the time," I said.
"You had one Monday night!" Citra squealed.
He was right, I had. After working late, and with the guys hanging out at Pete's Tavern, I'd brought home a bottle of Hangar 24's 6th Anniversary Farmhouse Saison. It was pretty good, but I'd destroyed the bottle before they arrived.
- Appearance: a cloudy, light yellow with a fair amount of foam (4)
- Scent: lemon and pine, some hop notes as well (3.5)
- Taste: sour and tart with some spices present (3.5
- Mouthfeel: dazzles on the palate, feels almost carbonated, finishes smoother and bitterness lingers (4)
- Overall: an enjoyable farmhouse ale, although not as sweet as others (3.75)
"How did you know?" I asked.
As Citra explained, I'd left myself signed in on Untappd and my computer on when I went to bed. He just walked by it upon his return from Pete's and caught me red-handed. Even worse, he'd browsed my history. Boulevard's Saison-Brett, Ommegang's Glimmerglass and even Saison Dupont. I was finished.
"What can I say, guys? I have a thing for Saison. Shoot, it's more than a thing. I think I'm in love," I said.
That weekend I packed up and moved out. I've remained friendly with the hop gang, and I see Citra and Simcoe out at pubs and bars on occasion. We exchange pleasantries and go our separate ways. Hoppy beers are still a big part of my life and always will be. But Saison put its sweet, delicate claws into me and there's no turning back. I suppose I'd be more sad about it if it weren't so damned good.