The Reason for the Saison 

Crooked Fence creates exotically flavored beer for the World Village

The Crooked Fence Brewing team sniffed spices at the Boise International Market, searching for the perfect beer infusion.

Jessica Murri

The Crooked Fence Brewing team sniffed spices at the Boise International Market, searching for the perfect beer infusion.

For Adam Dahl, brewing a beer doesn't usually start with sticking his nose into exotic spices, but for Crooked Fence Brewing's new World Village Saison, that's exactly what the head brewer did.

Dahl and his team of brewers took a trip to the Boise International Market on a rainy day in April to find the perfect beer-infusible flavor. The brewery agreed to make a special small batch of beer for the World Village Festival, June 19-21.

They sniffed spices like dosalette, gieso, atare and basobla in the midst of the Boise International Market's cramped grocers. They sprinkled small amounts on their tongues and their faces often twinged at the peppery, powerful herbs.

"That one is a little stronger," said Dayo Ayodele—the main organizer for the World Village and executive director of the nonprofit Global Lounge—as he guided the brewers through the spice racks. "This is tradition; they use this during a naming ceremony for children. After seven days, this is something we do: we break it down and put it in the baby's mouth, to welcome them to the culture."

"Really?" one of the brewers said, laughing. "They use this for babies? Wow, can you imagine?"

Dahl left the market with seven spices for experimentation. He poured one of Crooked Fence's lighter beers into a few growlers, bagged up the spices and herbs and let them sit in each growler for a day or two. Then Dahl and his team got to taste each brew.

"Some of them weren't great," he said, adding that some spices weren't pronounced enough in the beers, others weren't "beer-friendly."

Basobla herb, on the other hand, tasted pretty good. Dahl said it had a fruity flavor and aroma, though it's not known for flavoring beer. The spice—from the east African nation of Eritrea—is commonly mixed into butter for taste.

"I haven't really come across any herbs like that," Dahl said. "It has a nice bubblegum smell to it."

He decided to infuse the herb with a light saison with 6.5 percent alcohol by volume and an IBU (International Bittering Units) of 22. He picked up yeast from Woodland Empire, let the beer ferment in an open tank and added the spice a little at a time until the taste was right.

Crooked Fence's marketing and events director owner/resident artist, Kelly Knopp, went along to the market to get inspiration for the label. He came up with an image of two figures representing different cultures, intertwined around a globe.

The World Village Saison officially releases on Thursday, June 4 at the festival kickoff party at the Egyptian Theatre, though bottles can already be found on shelves at select Fred Meyer stores.

The kickoff party for World Village features a live and silent auction with an opportunity to bid on a tequila tasting party hosted by the Mexican Consulate and a few cases of wines from around the world. Live music and dancing are planned for the evening, as well as a screening of Finding Fela, a documentary that follows the career of Nigerian superstar Fela Kuti, who pioneered Afrobeat in the 1970s and used his music as a platform for change.

Though the beer will start pouring at the kickoff party, the World Village Festival takes place a few weeks later, Friday, June 19-Sunday, June 21. The festival originally started as part of the Hyde Park Street Fair four years ago but quickly outgrew its small section of Camel's Back Park.

Now, Ayodele is excited for the festival to branch off on its own in Capitol Park, where it will be a showcase of multi-national performances and bring cultures together through dance, music, storytelling, poetry and food from several ethnicities: Mexican, Basque, Native American, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Bosnian, African, North and South American, Middle Eastern, Indian and Greek communities that thrive in Boise.

Ayodele, who is from Nigeria, came up with the vision for the festival a few years after he moved to Boise. He told Boise Weekly he's always had a desire to see cultures come together like this.

"As a little kid, I saw a commercial by Coke where they had all these ethnicities from everywhere, there in perfect harmony," Ayodele said. "That made a profound impact on me. I've always thought the world needs to come together."

When Crooked Fence heard about the World Village this year, the brewery selected it as one of the handful of organizations it picks every year for their Hops and Hearts program. Thirty percent of sales from the special beer will go to Global Lounge. Ayodele was thrilled.

"I thought it was a really great, mind-blowing idea," he said. "The world is getting smaller as we know it, and you can find a lot of things just at the Boise International Market."

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