It’s Ace – @marksandspencer @adnams Sorachi Ace Saison


Thank god for access to great beer; you know, a few years back I would have had to go far and wide to pick up a bottle of Saison, and even then it was invariably an expensive bottle of Saison Dupont.

But you can now get your Saison fix in Marks and Sparks!  How nice is that?

I don’t know who it is at Mark’s that is driving their beer stocking strategy, but whoever it is should have their hand vigorously pumped and their back heartily and repeatedly slapped.

There’s so many beers to try and so many that I haven’t reviewed yet…

The great thing is, nearly all of these beers are brewed by proper reputable brewers for M&S; and because they’re each responsible for a different type, you can probably now get a wider variety of beer types in Mark’s than you can in any of the big supermarkets…

Sorachi Ace Saison is brewed by everyone’s favourite brewing legends: Adnams.

So, Sorachi Ace hops in a Saison?  Sound interesting…  If memory serves me correct Sorachi Ace were bred especially for the Japanese brewer Sapporo.  I’ve not much experience of them so let’s see what they contribute, shall we?

This Saison pours an hazy, yet enticing, cornfield yellow and exhibits a lovely luminosity when help up to the light.  There’s not much in the way of head, but that’s the way of the Saison sometimes.

The aroma is that of sweet good earth with an undercurrent of dry and dusty lemon: a bit like the back edge of a slurp of Lemsip, only much, much, nicer.

The mouth-feel is surprisingly luxurious given that this is a Saison, and the taste is spicy-lemony-citrus with a nice touch of alcohol.

The finish is pleasantly dry with a bit of resin and a good firm hoppiness at the swallow; which, if truth be told, meant that my glassful was gone in a flash.

The aftertaste goes on and on; in fact half of the pleasure in this beer is the finish and reverberating aftertaste.

God I wish I’d bought four more bottles of it…

Get some today…it will not fail to delight.

PS: I’m going to do my best to get through and review the complete M&S beer range – a feat which M&S can help with I’m sure…all you folks need to do is stuff a few in a box and send them to me.  That’ll get me off to a flying start…

Silly Season Summer Saison – Tasting Notes

20150724_200554Well here’s a quick round-up of how this one turned out…it’s the first time that I’ve kegged a Saison and I must say it’s been a bit of a success…

Arriving in the glass a hazy yellow-gold colour with a lovely lasting head, it looks right.  Trouble is, because someone (probably me) has moved my nylon hop bags I was forced to sanitize and use a substitute bag which once had a child’s jigsaw puzzle in it…which made for a quite a shit hop bag – so there’s the occasional little floaty hop bit.

Look, lets just say that it was a rustic farmhouse Saison.  Problem solved.

The nose is all minerals and spicy citrus hops (Styrian Keg Hops, yum) and the yeast contributes a nice little spicy feel; there’s a slight bracing sea-weedy note too and just a little smidge of berry fruits.  I’m happy enough with all of that.

The mouth-feel is solid and satisfying with a decent carbonation.  The spiciness leads out with pines, lemon-citrus and an almost Greek taverna-in-the-trees-on the beach sort of theme about it…it’s a happy theme and one that I’m very pleased with.

The citrus and yeast notes are quite long-lasting in the after-taste, too – which I like a lot.  It’s been very enjoyable on weekend lunchtimes with cheese sandwiches, olives and salady bits.

I will make a keg-full again, soon.  Hopefully the weather will last long enough to enjoy it…

Silly Season Summer Saison


You know me…any excuse for pointless alliteration.

It’s summer everyone and it hasn’t even started raining yet!  But, it’s Glastonbury this weekend and thousands of people in shorts, wellies and bloody ridiculous hats need a good soaking – so it probably will…  (Secretly, I’d love to be there.  But I’m too busy, the kids are too young and I gave up sh*tting in a bucket years ago.)

So with all this good weather about, lets make some Saison that I can keg and enjoy a pint of in the piddling rain of high summer.

A very simple grain bill of Maris Otter; with some Magnum hops for bittering, some Styrians (Bobek) for taste and aroma…and that’s about it:

Silly Season

I mashed in at 38C as per usual, did a further 80 minutes at 65C for the sacch. rest and then mashed out at 76C for 10 minutes.  Easy-peasy.

I’ve kept 30g of Styrians back for dry-hopping – as it’s one of life’s pleasures…

I got about 19L of wort into the fermenter at 1045 (i.e. smack on what i wanted it to be) with some lovely Belle Saison yeast.

I put the remaining 4.5L of wort into a demijohn with some S-04 English Ale yeast for a top secret future project (the nature of which I’ll divulge when the time is right.)

Everything is happily chirrupping along merrily and the S-04 is taking every opportunity to go completely mad in the heat:

Mad dogs, Englishmen and Ale yeast go out in the mid-day sun

I’ll let you know howit all goes.  Quickly I hope, as I’m thirsty for a hoppy Saison.

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…

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.

Simon the Saisonal Seabird: A Belgian Saison with Grapefruit

20140809_212633If you were a teenager in the early 90’s in the UK then you’ll probably remember Vic Reeve’s Big Night Out.  I do.  Fondly.  One of the skits (Novelty Island) featured Vic’s nemesis: Graham Lister and his wooden seagull known as Simon the Seasonal Sea Bird – who could predict the seasons by various technologies hand-crafted into him by Lister.

You had to be there.  Really.  If you must see and understand it go here: (about 5mins in)  I can’t think of Saison without thinking about that seasonal sea bird…

That’s how the name came about – what about the recipe?

Here it is:


(Ignore all of the talk about mash liquor if you’re using a Braumeister…just put about 26/27 litres of water in and let it go through a fairly simple mash schedule, like this: and sparge with 4 litres of 79C water)

When adding the grapefruit zest at flame-out, there was a really lovely fizzle sort of noise as the citrussy oils were liberated – and the room was filled with a gorgeous peppery-grapefruit aroma.

In the end I managed to squeeze about 23 litres of 1059 gravity wort out of the Braumeister and into the fermenter.  I did think about banging in 500g of light Muscavado sugar, but decided against it as the mash efficiency was good and the yeast should tear through it.

I tasted a small amount as I was running the wort out into the fermenter and it was really good – a light bitterness with a nice malty note and a lovely grapefuit-peppery, fruity, after-taste.  I’m hoping that the “dry-hop” of another grapefruit’s worth of zest will add an even fresher layer on top.  I don’t want the grapefruit to dominate, though, as I want that WLP568 yeast with it’s really peppery phenolic and fruity theme to shine through.

If the yeast is half the monster it’s supposed to be, this should end up at 1007 or something – which could make for a finished ABV of 6.8%

I have high hopes for this one, as well as a good supply of half champagne bottles and 29mm caps to bottle it up with.