And just like that, Green Bench Brewing is available by me.
Okay, maybe not all of Green Bench, but there were a few bottles to have.
When you take a look at Green Bench Brewing, they sort of feel like the grand dame on St. Petersburg brewing. Heck, they were such pioneers in brewing in that city that they helped to write city codes to allow them to brew beer.
Green Bench was the braiinchild of childhood friends Steven Duffy and Nathan Stonecipher. After graduating St. Petersbugh High and University of Florida (why does it always have to be Gainesville?) together, they decided the crazy idea of starting a brewery based on their homebrewing adventures wasn’t so crazy after all. They hired Khris Johnson, another homebrewer and veteran of both Cigar City and Southern Brewing was brought on board to run the day-to-day operations in the brewhouse.
The name has a lot more significance than just a piece of furniture. St. Pete was home to hundreds of hunter green benches from the early 1900’s to around 1969. They were ubiquitous around the city, and promoted a ‘sit and relax’ page for the hundreds of snowbirds vacationing to escape the northern winters. So many benches were located around town that, for a time, St. Petersburg was known as the ‘City of Green Benches.’
The benches are all but gone, but the brewery bearing their name lives on. And, like I said, they’re bottling and starting to release. Right now it’s small, 1 pint bottles, but it’s something, especially for someone that simply can’t make it very easily to the brewery. The first bottle I cracked open was the self-titled Saison de Banc Vert (Saison/Farmhouse Ale, 6.5% ABV).
It’s one thing to cultivate an online image that you’re classic and old school and do things with a focus on quality. It’s another thing entirely to actually do them. Luckily, Green Bench has the attention to detail and the focus to make that quality shine through in their beer.
This is easily one of the softest, most flavorful, well rounded saisons I’ve ever had. When I posted the initial picture on Instagram, I mentioned I was drinking this with a brunch. And it was perfect; it’s as close to a light, effervescent champagne as any beer can be.
It’s got a great, mellow orange color with a touch of cloudiness, belying a lack of filtering necessary to a style such as this. There’s a gorgeous little white foamy head, and the aroma is very bright, with nice touches of citrus and a little malt.
The flavor of the saison is definitely spearheaded by liberal mounts of brettanomyces, which bring a slight sourness to the beer, and keep the light malt and noble hop flavors well under control. This is not the beer to be a hop bomb, nor does it pay to be bready. It’s a light and bubbly beer, one that dances on the tongue. There’s a slight oaky remnant to the flavor, as the saisons are aged in foeders (pretty much a fermentation tank made of wood instead of stainless steel), which gives a light, rounded character to the brew.
In short, it’s easily one of my favorite Florida saisons, and an incredibly affable drink that will be hard to put down. I just hope that it stays around down here for a long time.
We don’t want to lose any more green benches.
Drink Florida Craft,