A real cheek-acher: Thornbridge (& Will Alston!) – Rhubarbe de Saison

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Ah, Saison…what a great style. I love a Saison, and I think we just don’t get enough of them in England.

So I considered myself lucky to get my hands on probably one of the last few remaining bottles of Rhubarbe de Saison, which was the 2015 Great British Home Brewing Challenge winning entry by Will Alston.

(I guess Thornbridge are slowly winding up production of this, in readiness for the next competition.?)

It’s be a shame really, as this is a great beer indeed. It’s novel but not gimmicky and is solidly satisfying.

Poured into a glass, it’s bell clear light copper with a fantastic running bead.

Caution! The sediment in the bottle is probably the most clumpy, floaty, stuff I’ve ever come across…just the slightest agitation and you’ve got dear little fluffy clouds every where, but it does settle quickly – so that’s one thing at least.

The head is wondrous snowy meringue and the aroma is that of gentle fresh rhubarb, some Saison phenols and a great, almost raspberryish “pippiness”.

The effervescent nature gives this beer a real velvety mouth feel, over which floods a sharp rhubarb acidity (you know how that is…) followed by bone dryness – which helps to flush out more fruit complexity and further attic dryness.

It’s so dry in the finish that it makes your cheeks ache, but that only means your saliva runs more strongly and demands you drink more.

Well done Mr. Will Alston. I wish I’d brewed this…

http://www.gbhomebrew.co.uk/Winners.html

(PS: I promise I will start brewing again soon.  I’m rapidly running out of stock and my wife is wondering what’s up with me…)

Not quite the ugly duckling: Thornbridge – Wild Swan

WildSwan

God how I love the output of the Thornbridge brewery…their beers are always just so individual, well-crafted and delicious. Well, almost all of them are…I just can’t find it in my heart to be so effusive about Wild Swan.

I mean, you can see where it gets the name from: being beautifully light and pale, and all delicate looking in a glass.  The head is lacy and light as freshly spun gossamer threads.

In the aroma I got light, summery perfumed hoppiness – citrus notes just like you get in a decent white Semillion.  Wisps of very pale malt accompany a pineyness that’s as subtle as the fragrance of nearby forests on a Greek island beach.

I must confess that I found Wild Swan’s mouth-feel and taste to be a major let-down; it’s too over-carbonated – almost to the point of drowning out any other taste – and feels like having a mouthful of soda water.  When the bubbles eventually cleared, the malt seemed too thin and the hops just didn’t sing like they should have.

Then I swallowed the mouthful, and it was all gone – just like a Greek island holiday does: One minute it’s all sunshine and scenery and then, before you know it, it’s all over and you find yourself dumped outside the doors of Gatwick in the pissing rain.

Aroma-wise with Wild Swan we were pretty much there – but there just wasn’t enough in the taste to make this a really enjoyable beer.  It’s such a desperate shame as I love everything else from Thornbridge that I have ever tasted.

I know Wild Swan is only 3.5% ABV – but that’s just not an excuse…Adnams manage to put out a 3.4% beer that tastes amazing – but we all know that Adnams are past masters at making small things seem big: https://yeastismybitch.com/2013/10/29/adnams-lighthouse/

http://www.thornbridgebrewery.co.uk/beers.php

About a quarter way down the glass I handed it to Eve and said how disappointed I was with Wild Swan.  She sipped it and said “I could drink that all day” and proceeded to drain the glass.  Different strokes for different folks, I guess. Far be it from me to suggest that this might be an ideal beer for the ladies.  That would just be sexist…

Homebrewed Thornbridge Kipling Clone (Braumeister Version) – Tasting

So here it is…the tasting of the Kipling clone (https://yeastismybitch.com/2013/11/12/homebrewed-thornbridge-kipling-clone-braumeister-version/)

Well.  I’m happy with it, but not uber-happy with it.  It’s a little more hazy in appearance than I’d like, and a good bit darker than the original, but it does have a very nice head to it, though, being all lacy, lasting and attractive-looking.

The aroma is sexy and inviting: over-ripe mandarin oranges, tropical fruit juice and malt, some subdued lemony citrus.  Quite lovely, really.  I will be using Nelson Sauvin again, mos’ def’.

Upon tasting, a light citrus hoppiness floods in accompanied by a reasonable malt body and a nice level of alcohol. Bitter but not over bitter. Very tasty…

All that and an aftertaste of piney citrus and that signature mandarin orange flavor…

From the corny keg, the beer was excellent; in bottles it seems to be lacking a bit in body, I reckon that the us05 was a bit too attenuative…so in future I can either mash a touch higher or I can use an alternative yeast.  Or, I may fool around a bit with Vienna and Munich malts, I just feel that the beer could be so much more satisfying in the body department…I’d dearly love to have a house staple malt bill that I can use to showcase different hop varieties and combinations.

One thing I will be doing is chopping down on the Torrified wheat.  This beer suffers terribly with chill haze, and I think the wheat is the culprit.  I’ll also be looking to lengthen out the protein rest a bit and always remembering the Irish moss ten minutes before the end of the boil…

 

Thornbridge: Kipling

20131109_203257…the first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” (Rudyard Kipling)

Dear old Rudyard obviously never went to France then…  I’ve been a couple of times, smelt it extensively, and I still can’t fathom the french people out.  To be honest, France smelt much like England does – only with a faint whiff of cheese and a tang of public urination.

Interesting fact: did you know that Kipling’s mother was hard of hearing and a bit dim?  Neither did I…  She mistook the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages for a Doctor.  A simple enquiry of “Has he got a name?” sounded too much like “Are you bearing the pain?” and her reply of “It’s Ruddy ‘Ard!”  established one of the most intriguing names in literature.

In a similar vein, did you know that Roald Dahl’s mother was unable to pronounce the letter “n”?

(Laugh, damn you…this sort of stuff doesn’t write itself, you know…)

But back to the original quotation…and to paraphrase it: in order to understand Thornbridge Kipling you first have to smell it

And what a glorious smell it is too:  Nelson Sauvin all the way (Kipling is a single hop beer, of that variety) and Nelson Sauvin brings forth huge bunches of elderflowers, white wine and fresh bales of hay; a gentle malty aroma providing a cotton-sheet light background to hang all of this delicate aroma upon.

Colour-wise, it’s almost a pale champagne – further contributing to an overall theme of floaty lightness.  Even the head looks like cow parsley on a summer’s day…

The taste is intense: white-wine, grapes, kiwi fruit and an overall feeling of summeriness.  The hop’s influence is borne up by the cheerful effervescence; making for a delicate, complex and beautifully crafted flavour that trails into a long-lasting clean bitterness…

All-in-all beautifully balanced, clean-tasting and oh-so-very drinkable…

If you’re thinking of serving posh drinks this coming summer I dare you to serve cooled Kipling in half-decent glasses to your guests, instead of poncey Champagne.  They’ll hoover that Kipling up I can assure you…and then they’ll ask for pint glasses, so that they can enjoy it properly.

http://www.thornbridgebrewery.co.uk/beers.php

(Look at that range…I’ll bet everyone of them is excellent.  I know Jaipur is.  I will be reviewing that soon.  Expect more effusiveness)