The offerings from Haw River feel consistent. But sometimes the easy-going and drinkable nature of Belgian ales do cause a loss of BOLD FLAVORS. The Holdsie San is a delightful deviation, or at the very least a perfect example of how a Belgian beer can be ramped up and still remain subtle.

Part of the #NoHoldsies series from the Saxaphaw brewery, it’s described as a rye tripel aged in oak bourbon barrels. That’s a lot going on but it goes well.

It’s so easy to over-rye(d) beers and have the grain’s flavor dominate the taste. Haw worked it in here perfectly, letting the oak barrels for what they do best: booze up a beer.

There’s just enough of a rye tinge that it mixes well — it kicks off the flavor before the barrels flood you down to flavor town.

There’s some Belgian sweetness on the back end too, with a little sweet-honey smell on the nose.

It pours a deep golden hue – and looks straight gorgeous in my Tasty Beverage glass – with a decent head and consistent, tiny carbonation, almost like champagne. If you saw this beer sitting by itself at a bar you’d hit on it.


Price: At just $8.99, this feels like a steal.

Availability: Not a regular beer or even a one off on the Haw website so unlikely to see it hanging around. We scored what looked like the last one from State of Beer. Grab it if you see it.