Tim Hampson's Beer Blog

The quest for the perfect beer

The saison of the of the Welsh

with one comment

To parody the singer-songwriter Donovan it’s the Saison of the Welsh. Adrian Tierney Jones http://maltworms.blogspot.com/ is one the best of the current beer writers, who differentiates himself by consistently looking for new ways to describe beer and bring the suds to a new appreciative audience. While most of us are still grappling with largely useless terms like malty and hoppy, Adrian is developing a new and exciting lexicology to describe beers.

He is also has a very acute and discerning palate. Well those good guys over at Otley Brewery http://www.otleybrewing.co.uk know a thing or two about  style and they asked Adrian to put his taste expertise where his is reputation is and create his own beer. Adrian is well known for bending people’s ears about saisons. So he set himself the task of creating his own dark saison.

Saisons are linked more by culture than a specific style. They hail from farm houses in Wallonia in Belgium. A saison was the beer brewed by people for their own consumption. It perhaps has some similarities with biere de garde from France. It was a spring time, summer beer, intended to be refreshing, thirst quencher, which provided energy and was robust enough to prosper on warm days. The style had all but died out – but thanks to the creativity of American “craft” brewers the style has seen a small resurgence in recent years.

But now Wales can say it too has it own saison. A bit like Trappsit beers, anything goes with a saison – some contain herbs and spices, others use candied sugar as a fermentable material, but they all share mouthfuls of flavour which might come from the use of an ale yeast. And then there are hops, flavoursome noble hops such as styrian or goldings. Add to this some acidity for a slightly soured taste and you might get the idea.

The result is big and complex – wider than found in most beers and a balanced complexity of tastes and flavours that should inspire even the most jaded drinker’s palate. And it should be refreshing, crisp, dry, yet have a spicy, fruity complexity.

I was privileged to sit in on the first tasting of Adrian’s as yet unnamed dark saison. So there I was in the marvellous Bunch of Grapes in Pontypridd, sitting with Nick Otley and Adrian, doing what comes naturally – drinking beer and having an articulate conversation about flavour profiles, ingredients and food pairings.

And like all good saisons Adrian’s as yet unnamed beer has a long memorable, finish and not the short ending one can expect from too many beers. It was a slightly tart, sharp, spiky beer with an acidic sourness. Zesty and refreshing it was in wonderful condition. The colour was reddish brown not black. It was a fresh, refreshing and multifaceted beer full of spice and fruit.

I didn’t detect kiwi, passion or pomegranate fruit flavours, others with better palates than mine can try and do that.

So if you are in London on 25 March the saison of the Welsh could be coming to a pub near you.

Adrian Tierney Jones and Nick Otley will be tasting the dark saison – with as yet no name on 25 March at various locations in London

3pm – White Horse, Parsons Green.

5pm – Cask Pub and Kitchen, Pimlico.

7pm – Rake, Borough Market.

9pm – Southampton Arms, Islington.


Written by timhampson

March 22, 2011 at 5:23 pm

One Response

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  1. sounds a tasty beer I agree with the man about describing things malty etc has it’s place among serious beer drinkers of course but puts off newcomers especialy ladies zingy or zesty taste instead of full of hops gets new folk interested

    kevin keaveny

    March 23, 2011 at 5:03 am

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