The BUFF is back.
Back in 2003, friends Bill Covaleski of Victory Brewing, Greg Koch of Stone Brewing and Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery formed an alliance to share their passion for American craft beer with the world.
It was several years until BUFF – Brewers United for Freedom of Flavor – bottled a beer, but on all accounts, it was worth the wait.
"We wanted to do a beer that we’d never done before," says Calagione.
In 2010, the brewers gathered at Stone in San Diego, Calif., and got to work. The recipe started with a love for saisons and sage. Soon parsley, rosemary and thyme entered the conversation, and a beer was born. Later that year, batches using the same recipe and ingredients were brewed at Victory in Downingtown, Pa., and Dogfish Head in Milton, Del.
"Saison is such a cool style because it’s really herbacious," Koch says. "It's got peppery character, and you get this natural citrusy character, as well. Add in these herbs that we're using and it just takes this thing to a completely different level."
Covaleski agrees. "Bringing something new to the style is a challenge," he says. "I think we were up to the challenge. I think we rose to it."
This year marks the return of Saison du Buff. Dogfish Head’s version – a sessionable 6.8% ABV – is hitting taps and shelves throughout March. Victory’s batch is coming in April, and Stone’s is due in late May. Each version will be available throughout its brewery's distribution network.
This beautifully complex three-pronged collaboration is designed to get craft brew fans talking and experimenting.
"We want everyone to try all three versions," says Calagione. "Maybe blend them together, find ratios that are best for you, because beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder."