Saturday, December 3, 2011

CT Column 20/07/2011: Season for the Saison

IT seems like this year is the year of the Saison. Saison is a tart dry spicy type of Belgian farmhouse ale that was originally brewed by farmers to preserve grain and pay farm workers. So far this year we have seen Invercargill Brewing Co’s interpretation, several classics from Belgium, and now a characteristically original take on the style from the Yeastie Boys and a characteristically hoppy one from 8 Wired. This is definitely a case of feast after famine as there have been precious few examples of the style around town.
The Yeastie Boys take on Saison comes in the form of this year’s Her Majesty. Each year the Yeastie Boys release Her Majesty and His Majesty in 750ml wine bottles. Each vintage is a completely different beer but His Majesty always takes a more muscular approach while Her Majesty concentrates on more subtle yeast accented styles. The Yeastie Boys seldom create beers exactly to style and this year’s Her Majesty takes the malt recipe of a German Märzen Lager and blends it with a Saison yeast and a dose of Nelson hops. This year’s Her Majesty has a complex aroma with plenty of orchard fruit, citrus, exotic spice and an interesting creamy almost cheese note that I really like even if it sounds rather strange! In the mouth it is incredibly dry yet at the same time richly malty with loads of complex malt flavour, spicy fruit and a tart finish. A very clever and beguiling beer.
8 Wired’s interpretation comes in the form of Saison Sauvin named after the exotically fruity Nelson Sauvin hop variety. Saison Sauvin came from brewer Søren Eriksen’s experiments with using a Saison yeast with his popular Hopwired IPA recipe. The beer that resulted from that process is very different from those early experiments but it is definitely a good deal more hoppy than most Saison’s would be. Aromas of fresh zesty tropical fruit, lime and melon , and exotic spice give way to a fresh dry fruity palate and a dry tart finish. Both these new saisons are food friendly and make an outstanding accompaniment to fresh spicy Thai or Vietnamese food.
Also out this week is this year’s Regional Special Bitter the beer I brewed with Richard Emerson. This year’s beer is a refinement of last year’s recipe and I’m extremely pleased with it. It’s a tap only release and will be at Beervana at the start of next month.

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