Showing posts with label Saison. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Saison. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Four Fine Saisons For You in A Quart of Ale± #17

 Four Fine Saisons For You in A Quart of Ale± #17

Moving on over to craft.


Glazen Toren “D’erpe-Mere” 6.5%, 33cl bottle Bradley’s of Cork

Jef Van Den Steen, a former professor of mathematics, is a master of saison at De Glazen Toren Brewery. Saison originated in Wallonia, in the French speaking part of Belgium, and that’s where Jef found it and fell in love with it.

Why? “Because of its drinkability - it is never sweet, always dry, refreshing and very drinkable,… a very old style, more than 200 years old.” You can find Jef talking about saison on a 2016 You Tube short.

It is a farmer’s ale, also known as a table beer, brewed in one season (winter) for drinking in another (summer) by the farm labourers. While most saisons now are mid to high abv, the beer then (in the 19th century and in the first decades of the 20th) was much lower so the workers weren’t falling about in the fields all day. 

Because it had to kept fresh for six months or so, extra hops were added to enhance shelf life. “Hops protect beer from ageing and I very much like bitterness. I don’t like sweet. Sweet is good for horses and elephants, not for humans.”

The De Glazen Toren brewery in Erpe-Mere, Belgium, was founded in 2004. Within ten years the initiative of the brew masters Jef Van den Steen and Dirk De Pauw, along with a third partner, Mark De Neef, has grown from a brewing hobby into a successful, professional company.

Colour of this one is a hazy pale gold - no shortage of little bubbles rising - with a big white head. Taste that head - stick your finger in - and you’ll note the bitterness (you may notice it again at the finalé). Aromas yield  a more modest bitterness, hints too of citrus. No extremes on the palate where it all - the aromas and the flavours- come together in a supple harmony,  a refreshing flow. And you remember that refreshment was the aim with Saison. You didn’t want your workers dozing off after lunch. If I were the farmer handing this one out, I think I’d keep it for the weekend!

As ever, the Belgians come up with food pairings:

Smoked trout fillet, salad of beetroot and Jona Gold (apples) with horseradish cream;

Sepia (cuttlefish) with green peas;

Cheese fondue;

Pasta with leek sauce, blue cheese.

They say:  Barley and wheat malts have been used to produce this beer. Liquid sugar too! The beer is brewed according to the old Saison tradition of Hainaut. The beer is not filtered and is pure natural. 

Dupont “Saison Dupont” 6.5%, 33cl bottle Bradley’s of Cork

A former drinking partner used to describe the head on a local stout as “ice cream”. I’m reminded of that remark when I pour, perhaps too quickly, my bottle of Saison Dupont. The head shrinks but slowly enough.

Beer has been brewed here in Belgium’s Hainaut for centuries though it is only in the last 20 years or so that the Dupont Brewery has become a global reference for saison. 

Farm beers of this type – light, rather dry but fruity – were traditionally brewed during the winter, ready to quench the thirst of the seasonal field workers (saisoniers) during the summer to follow.

It is a cloudy mid-amber, fountains of micro-bubbles. Aromas of citrus. Light and fruity, zesty and refreshing, yet no shortage of hearty flavour. Reckon any labourer, even a keyboard one, would be happy with this impeccable beer. Superb finish also with the bitterness now to the forefront. Nothing quirky, nothing extreme other than extremely good. As Michael Creedon of Bradley’s told me “if you don’t like this, you don’t like saison”.

They say: Saison Dupont was first brewed in 1844. This copper-blond beer yields amazingly delicate aromas paired with a pronounced hop-bitterness. The house yeast and the local hard water, drawn from a well, play an important role in the creation of this beer. An in-bottle refermentation makes a major contribution to the development of this complex and highly aromatic beer.

Third Circle “Unsocial Creatures”  Dry Hopped Saison 4.4%, 33cl can Bradley’s of Cork

Pours a golden colour washing up the curve of the glass, fluffy white head not built to last. Hops, with some sweetness, in the aromas. I like to think this is the real thing. It tastes so good. Absolutely drinkable, the hops in every drop making every drop one of hit-the-spot drinking pleasure, jackpot every time. Crisp and fruity and moreish.

They say: We took our old house saison recipe and brought it up a notch. Hopped with Topaz and Cashmere. Expect a crisp, highly quaffable, summertime slammer with notes of white grape and melon.

Third Circle beers are made in Dublin, Ireland. “In collaboration with our friends at Stone Barrel Brewing we have founded Third Barrel Brewery which is located on Bluebell Avenue in Dublin 12, where Third Circle beers are produced. We use a pre-loved 1,100 litre brewery system which, in a previous lifetime, spent many years decocting fine Pilsners in the Czech hills.”

Heaney “Way Over Yonder” 5.7%, 440ml can Bradley’s of Cork

This hazy beer from the County Derry farmhouse brewery pours a gold colour, with a fluffy head that hangs around for a bit. Fruity and slightly spicy in the aromas. Fruity too on the palate, apricots are suggested. “A funky yeast” adds to the complexity of this fruited farmhouse ale.

The label say its a rustic ale but I find it rather elegant and smooth, though I’d better add that I’ve known some rustics who are also quite sophisticated. In any event, it is well made and balanced and an excellent beer. One for the grafters, they say. But, if they were my grafters I don’t think I’d be handing it out at lunch-time with its 5.7 abv. Perhaps keep it for the end of the day.

By the way, I had a few dried apricots (unsulphured) in the house and the pairing with this saison was perfect.

Malts: Pale Ale Malt, Crystal Malt, Wheat Malt, Chocolate Malt

Hops: Galena, Nugget, East Kent Goldings

ABV: 4.2% IBUs: 33 

They say:  We make this beer for “the grafters” and Mrs Heaney is lauded as the original grafter. “For generations our family farm has been a place of harvest and inspiration; in step with the past and striking a new future.” 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Four Beers. Two Comparisons. Two Aces. Festival News

Four Beers. Two Comparisons. Two Favourites.

Table Beers

I bought four beers in Bradley’s of Cork the other day, for comparison purposes, two table beers and two with a large lemon element.

So lets start with the pair of Table Beers, better known to me as Saisons. White Hag, who produced the No. 40 in collaboration with Brew by Numbers, helpfully give a definition of the style on the can.

No. 40 is a true farmhouse saison, it represents a beer style that would have been produced all around the world to quench the thirst of farm-hands, and new-world settlers alike. It is produced from the second runnings of a much stronger beer, that would have been reserved in casks for consumption in the dearth months of sustenance. The table beer was just that, a beer for the table, consumed instead of raw water to ensure health. Light in alcohol, it could be consumed by everyone without fear of inebriation and dehydration.

I’m sure you’ll find definitions with more technical clarity but there you have the gist of it.

White Hag No.40 Table Saison, 2.6% abv , 440ml can

White Hag: Superb collaborative brew with Brew By Numbers. This Table Saison is a classic farmhouse beer in true old world style but with all the frills and fair that modern brewing has to offer. An absolute delight in the sunshine.

An absolute delight in the sunshine, they say, but the sun had gone by the time I got to drinking this very pale yellow cloudy beer with light citrus aromas. That light citrus continues onto the palate and there is a fair bit of cutting on the finish. Didn’t make a great impression though. One can would be my max and then time to move on to something like the Kinnegar below.

Kinnegar Skinny Legs Table Beer 3.5%abv, 440ml can

This new Skinny Legs, “the 3.5% table beer we made together with the participants of our first K2 brewing academy, is rolling off the canning line with a smile on its face”.

Colour is a healthy looking mid amber. Moderately fruity aromas. Maybe not fully powered up on alcohol but much more flavour here. If I were a labourer after a hard day’s work, reckon I’d much prefer to be coming back to this saison rather than to the Hag. No contest. 

Kinnegar have announced that from now on “our new beers will come under the 'Brewers at Play' banner. Because that's what they're really all about — giving the brewers and our customers a bit of variety and allowing us to test new ideas and trends. If we (and you!) like it enough, the beer will eventually get a label all of its own.” Go for it lads!

When Life Sends You Lemons… 

Whiplash Sunshine Under Ground Lemon Smoothie Pale Ale, 5.4%, 440ml can
Colour: Cloudy mid yellow, unfiltered and unpasteurised. Lots of lemon in the ingredients and on the palate. This has notes of Lemon Meringue. Silky and smooth, with a touch of creamy sweetness and a zesty finalé. I rather like this one!

It is brewed "for Whiplash by Whiplash at Larkin’s Brewery in County Wicklow" and is their response to the long-lasting scorcher we had here in Ireland. Of course, when I get my hands on it, the scorcher has retreated. Still, no need to deprive myself of enjoying this beauty.

Techie bits: 
Sunshine Under Ground focuses on Pilsner, Raw Wheat, Oats and sweet, sweet Lactose for its base before getting an addition of Cascade, Lemondrop and natural lemon zests in the whirlpool. Fermented on our house English Ale Yeast, it’s then ‘double dry-zested’ (DDZ?) using more and more of those beautiful lemon zests building and building to 10g/L of zesty fucking madness. The eye-catching artwork on the can is by Sophie Devere.

White Hag The Púca Dry Hopped Lemon Sour (Lime, Mint and Matcha), 3.5, 330ml can
Fairly pale lime colour on this new beer, launched at Hagstravaganza. If you like pure lemon juice, you may well enjoy this. While the Whiplash is a sweet-ish lemon then this is bitterly sour. Tart and refreshing? Well the first part is true. Might well be a thirst quencher. But not my style, at all.

Coming up:
Sourfest at The Bierhaus Cork from Thursday 2nd to Monday 6th. "Huge selection of Sour Beers on Tap!". Plus food, music and tastings.

August 10th and 11th: Bands, Breweries, Speakers, Discussions as Franciscan Well Celebrates Women in Beer 

16-19 August 2018 | No shortage of good beer at Big Grill Fest, Ireland’s only International BBQ Festival | Food | Fire | Smoke | Craft Beer | Music | Herbert Park, Dublin

Sunday, May 27, 2018

A Few Beer Classics. Four of the Best

A Few Beer Classics

Four of the Best

St Bernardus Abt 12, 10% abv, 33 cl bottle €4.50 Bradley’s of Cork

This extra strong Belgian barley wine style beer has a large creamy head; colour is golden brown and there are fruity and hoppy elements in the aromas. It is complex and full-bodied, packed with flavour and then a long finish with a hoppy bite. Well balanced overall and no wonder they call it “the pride of our stable”.

Indeed, this quadrupel is regarded as one of the best beers in the world. In the Belgian scheme of beer, quadrupel indicates it is stronger than a tripel, which is stronger than a dubbel. One for sipping then, but each sip packs a beautiful punch. 

St Bernardus, by the way, run a B&B in the brewery. Now that, combined with a tour and tasting, would be some visit. In addition, “B&B Het Brouwershuis is a place to enjoy a gastronomic breakfast buffet, to take the time for a chat and to make use of the unlimited possibilities to explore the region”. Check it out here.  

Thornbridge Jaipur IPA, 5.95%, 33 cl bottle, €3.50, Bradley’s of Cork

The complexity of this multi award winning American style IPA is down to no less than the six hops used: Chinook, Centennial, Ahtanum, Simcoe, Columbus and Cascade. Thornbridge, based in Derby, are regarded by many as Britain’s leading 21st century brewery.

It wears this complexity lightly though and you’ll have no problem sipping your way through this beauty from the UK brewery. It has a fairly cloudy pale yellow colour and hoppy aromas. Smooth on the palate, hoppy, citrus notes too, and a beautiful balance all the way to hoppy finish. Not too much more to say except that this is more or less the perfect IPA. Not surprised that the award tally worldwide has soared to over the one hundred mark.

Saison Dupont (Belgium) 6.5%, €2.95 33cl bottle Bradley’s Cork

Beer has been brewed here for centuries but it is only in the last 20 years or so that the Dupont Brewery has become a global reference for saison. As Michael Creedon of Bradley’s told me “if you don’t like this, you don’t like saison”.

It is a cloudy mid-amber, fountains of micro-bubbles. Aromas of citrus. Light and fruity, zesty and refreshing, yet no shortage of hearty flavour. Reckon any labourer, even a keyboard one, would be happy with this impeccable beer. Superb finish also with the bitterness now to the forefront.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, 5.6abv, 355ml can at Bradley’s of Cork

This 100% whole-cone Cascade hops beer, with its piney and grapefruit aromas, is a classic, all natural, bottle conditioned and refreshingly bold. And still going strong after 35 years.

Bitterness comes in at 38 and suggested food pairings are grilled steak, citrus salad, Thai curry and roasted veg.

So what does this “turning point for American beer” taste like? Well, it looks like hazy amber in the glass and smells like its well hopped, pine notes coming through. By the time I had written that, the frail white head had more or less vanished. Time for the first sip which was superb, hops and fruit, a terrific mouthful. No wonder it has become a classic, setting the standard for start-up breweries across the world. Viva Nevada!

Just noticed that this Pale Ale has been voted No. 1 in Food & Wine's 25 Most Important American Craft Beers Ever. See the full list here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Taste of the Week. Mescan Westport Saison

Taste of the Week
Mescan Westport Saison

This is a Belgian style beer, brewed near Westport, and is our Taste of the Week. It is the kind of beer that, once it hits the palate, makes you take notice. You may also want to note that it has an ABV of 6.2%.

I came across it in Westport a few months back and so I didn't hesitate to buy it and three companions, including a lovely white, when I saw them in Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork, the other day. They are not the cheapest, this 330ml bottle for instance, is priced at €3.95. 

The Westport Saison is a great one to cut the thirst, is more fizzy, with clove and citrus notes. Very well balanced too and you don't really notice the high alcohol. But do sip rather than gulp!

Saison beer is a Belgian style brewed, in the good old days, for seasonal workers. Reckon I'd appreciate one (or two) after a hard day’s labour or even after an idle day.

Mescan, by the way, was St Patrick’s brewer and no doubt the odd conversion was facilitated by a jug of his brew. The bottle conditioned beer is still cloudy! 

Their Westport white is superb. And I also have their Red Tripel and Westport Extra to try.