Taking the Pith Saison – 31/5/17

A lot of fond memories are made with beer. Saison takes me back not to Europe, but to Japan a couple of years ago. Sitting by the canal in Tokyo, at the Hitachino Brewing Lab (pictured on the right) with two good friends at my side and Saison Du Japon in hand. I remember thinking that I’d like it to be a little bit more old socks on the nose, but the setting was fantastic.

Complex fermented characters and specialty ingredients already give heaps of fruity notes to beer, but when the right balance is struck with fruit, the flavours can be greater than the sum of their parts. My epiphany fruit beer had been an apricot wheat that I had on tap at the Sail and Anchor, many years ago. For ages I was obsessed with recreating it even though years after I couldn’t remember what it was like, who brewed it or if it was well balanced or not. I think I just loved the concept of that stone fruit meets massive esters of wheat yeast.

Fast forward to a few months ago and citrus beers seemed like a cool new thing to do, orange and grapefruit IPA’s and Pale Ales, citrus Saisons too. A great tool for experimenting with new styles is to taste and smell as many as you can, however, I like the idea of reading about a beer, and creating what I feel it should taste like, without a skewed opinion or subconsciously trying to recreate someone else’s design. Instead just trusting my instincts as a brewer, which is another way of saying I can’t afford to buy a half dozen fancy pants beers I haven’t tried every week.

I thought it was finally time to enlist the expertise of the kitchen staff, and after several enlightening discussions with our Chefs, Greg and Tom, we landed on good ratio of pink grapefruit and navel oranges. The one and only trial batch was a success, but pink grapefruits were just heading out of season and the price shot up to 15 dollars a kilo, (gasp), it looked like back to the drawing board for seasonal fruit.

A couple of days later and the morning after the XPA beer club, I rolled into work feeling a bit worse for wear. Tom told me he had ordered 100 kilos of grapefruit and my heart leapt into my throat, thank the beer gods, they’d miraculously picked them up for about a third of the cost, (phew), and a dream of a funky fruity ale came to “fruit”ion.  Okay, clearly puns aren’t my strong suit, but all the chefs I know seem to have a fetish for them so I called upon one of my oldest and dearest friends, Sammy Dawson. A chef himself and co-owner of Bred Co. producing kick ass breads and fermented foods (who I one day hope to collaborate with on a sourdough beer) and Taking the Pith was born!

If you missed last night’s beer club and the launch of our latest seasonal ‘Taking the Pith’ then keep an eye out for the next one. You don’t need to be member or anything and it’s just $25 a piece for an intimate tasting of six similar beers with the main man, Ken Arrowsmith. Really… you can’t afford not to.

Cheers. Andrew Dean. Brewer.