Jon’s Kitchen Saison – Tasting notes

20150608_185045As you may or not remember I brewed this one up with the half-pack of Belle Saison yeast left from the BrewUK stove topper kit and a few other bits and pieces (

And by holy crikey I’m glad that I did…

Appearing in the glass more gorgeously luminous and hazy-yellow than it has any business to, this is one lovely-looking beer. I think the wheat more than contributed to it’s sheer good looks.

The carbonation is absolutely spot-on and the head is all frilly and white, just like a tart’s knickers.

The aroma is that gorgeous clean yeast phenol that Belle Saison seems to be good at, and on the back there’s some graininess too…

A HUGE body, with complexity and magnificent citrus notes wrestle in the hay with a fairly playful but forthright bitterness…5.8% ABV means that there’s no shortage of wallop, either.

The finish is sherberty and dry…which is odd and different, but hugely tasty.

Literally – and pardon my french, here – this is one fuck of a beer.  I’m very, very pleased with how this turned out.  When I open the last bottle (there are only five left, remember) I shall weep fat, hot, bitter tears.

I will make this beer again, and again and again.

Floreat Belle Saison!  A triumphant yeast performance…

Aha! @couragebeer – Directors Bitter

20150605_192644Widely disparaged as Alan Partridge’s beer of choice and all the connotations that go with it, Director’s isn’t actually a bad pint at all…

Coming into a glass a best bitter brown (unsurprisingly) with a whitish head – it’s certainly not going to win awards for it’s looks.  Business-like is how I’d best describe it.

The nose is that same weirdly perfumed, yeast over malt aroma, that immediately transports me back to The Crown in Woodstock, circa. 1991.

All Courage beers smelt the same back then and still do – it’s not great, it’s not terrible, it’s just evocative (I felt the same way about Courage Light Ale when I reviewed that…

The taste is thickly malty, and it still tastes exactly like it used to.  Even the bitterness is still weirdly “chromey”.

All in all Director’s is a bit one dimensional, but it’s rewarding, refreshingly bitter and it’ll still be here when all the craft-based wankery has died down and we’re all just drinking “beer” again…just better “beer” than we did before.

A great introduction to all-grain brewing: @BrewUK CraftyBrews – Stove Topper Kit Tasting

20150607_193335Well this has been a long time in coming hasn’t it?

It’s because Saison is such a funny old beast when it comes to fermentation and the particular Belle Saison yeast that came with this kit never really seemed to stop going – In fact it kept on trucking (with a few fits and starts) to a respectable 1007

Mind you, it took nearly four weeks to do that.  Saisons are fickle fermenters, ain’t no doubt about that.

See recipe and method here:

Pouring a lovely hazy halcyon yellow with a virginal white head that stays for a quite a while – before wisping off to a soapy looking covering, this beer’s as pretty as a picture.

In the nose there’s that gentle phenolic note, with a light underscoring of citrus… I think Eve puts it well: “it’s clean and not like ‘dirty pub beer'”.  I also got some light floral themes with some sweet hay…flowery meadows?  Very summery.

The carbonation was nice (well done, me), and the taste was subtly malty with some fruitiness and a very special spiciness…a lingering and quenching bitterness rides in on it’s tail to make sure you drink more.

The finish is both juicy and dry, if that makes any sense…whether it does or not I don’t care.  It’s damn good.

This was a very nice recipe indeed and an absolute joy to make. Well done Greg and co. at BrewUK, I hope you sell this kit by the boatload, as it delivers in spades.

England, my England how long will it be before you fall in love with Saison?  It’s lighter and more approachable than the hefty Belgian beers, sweeter and more satisfying than some of those malty old bitters and sexier than thumpy-chest hop-bomb IPAs…

Get in to Saison now and get some summer love going on.

Menage a Trois: a 100% Brett (ahem) Sacchromyces Trois Pale Ale

20150608_142609Again, my ability to choose good names for my beer has failed me…but this beer is being fermented with Brettanomyces/Sacchromyces Bruxellensis Trois, so it’s relevant at least.

(And, no, I can’t be bothered to go into the whole Sacch/Brett thing, so please read here: needless to say WLP644 is still an extraordinary yeast and seems to behave at least half-way like Brett, so for the sake of argument let’s just pretend it is Brett and I’ll carry on in my own little fool’s paradise…

I’ve based most of the recipe and technique on this post here:

Here’s the recipe:

Menage a trois

As you can see I somehow managed to get a finished volume of 26L at 1054 – so filled up a tiny demijohn with 4L of wort (which I pitched half-a-pack of ordinary ale yeast into, just for comparison…waste not, want not…)

I mashed in at 38C, did a single infusion rest at 65C (80 minutes) and then mashed out at 76C (10 minutes)

Notice that in-line with my own advice, I also moved a lot of the bittering charge (at least 14IBUs of it) to the last ten minutes of the boil…this should help with taste and aroma as well as providing those necessary bittering units…  Enigma is ideal for this as it’s gloriously tropical and also offers a hefty 15.2% alpha acid.

I intend to do a double dry hop again with Enigma while the whole thing is in the fermenter for a month: a two week ferment, then dry-hop, wait a week and then dry-hop again, wait another week, then bottle.

I tasted the starter before pitching and it is very dry and very “fruity” – more strong fruit than tropical, but we’ll see what this yeast does to a whole 22L over the course of the month and of course there’s the ale yeast pitched version to compare against, too.


UPDATE: I got a very strong weirdly lumpy-looking ferment by 3am (don’t ask, why I was up at that time) and by 8am was going like a steam train – and quite excitingly: there’s quite a noticeably fruity pineapple/tropical aroma coming from the air lock (are there any other air luck sniffers out there? or is it just me?)