This weeks beer, Lord Nelson, is a very special one from Elusive Brewing, who only made their first beer as a proper brewery 2 months ago! Over the last few years Andy Parker, founder of Elusive Brewing, has been honing his homebrew skills, winning a few awards in the process, as well as doing quite a few collaboration brews with some of the UK’s top breweries. Last year Andy decided to take the plunge, leaving his day job and set up Elusive Brewing. Which is a lot easier said than done. Details of his travails can be found at www.graphedbeer.com All that work and effort was definitely worth it and we are proud to support Andy and have his amazing beer in the farm shop.
Lord Nelson Beer is a farmhouse ale, a style also known as saison. Two years ago Andy brewed this with Weird Beard Brew Co at their London brewery, which went down very well amongst beer lovers. Once Andy was set up the guys from Weird Beard returned the favour, heading down to his shiny new brewery in Finchampstead, near the Hampshire/Berkshire border. This latest version is bigger and better than the original coming in at a brazen 7.4% abv.
I have wanted to get a saison beer in ever since I started at Stansted Farm Shop. It is one of my favourite styles and great with food. I always have a few bottles of saison in the cupboard ready to go for a vast array of food.
Saison/Farmhouse Ale originated in Belgium in the farmlands of Wallonia. As the name suggests it was brewed on farms during the colder months of the year to satisfy the thirsty farm workers during the summer (and now thirsty farm shop workers!), as well as giving a bit of extra income to the farm by selling it to the public.
Generally saison gets its distinctive flavour from the yeast which provides a semi dry mouthfeel with a little bready sweetness and possibly a touch of tartness. Thanks to yeast banks this amazing yeast has been captured with numerous varieties available for brewers to experiment with. The style is extremely popular with craft brewers, with many adding a variety of hops from around the world to modernise this classic style. Andy’s take on this style is sublime! He has used nelson sauvin hops… liberally… and to fantastic effect. As mentioned with Emsworth Brewhouse’s mainsail, single hopped beers give a great opportunity to taste what flavour profile you get from one variety. Nelson sauvin was developed in New Zealand and got its name from the hops’ similarity to the flavour of sauvignon blanc grapes. Surely, this is a great beer for wine connoisseurs?! Andy has pretty much used all the nelson sauvin hops he could get hold of and put it in the brew. As soon as you pour the beer you will be hit with gooseberries and tropical fruit and you instantly know this is a great beer. In the glass it has an almost viscous body and pours a dark amber. Saisons are generally relatively light in colours but Andy has used a mixture of darker malts that provides a good sweet maltiness, backing up the yeasty breadiness that gives a great platform… make that a dance floor… for a party of nelson sauvin fruitiness! On the nose you get gooseberries, wine gums, peaches with cream and ripe mango that has been smashed into a handful of lychees. In the mouth you get the same flavours but with a squeeze of grapefruit and a touch of white grape acidity which is rounded off with a superb clean and smooth bitterness. The body, nose, flavour, carbonation are all spot on, which is extraordinary achievement for a brewery’s first bottled beer and is being bottled by hand!
Saison is one of the great beer styles with food. There’s little it can’t handle. However with Lord Nelson Beer weighing in at 7.4% abv and a whole lot of hops ready to party, this beer can take on big spicy flavours. Indian and south east Asian food will be great with this. Master butcher/chef Gavin took a bottle into his local Indian restaurant where it sang like a choir of angles with tandoori king prawn. From our wood fired kitchen try it with our BBQ pork pizza. The sweetness of the BBQ sauce dissipates and you can taste every single spice that touched the pork as if it was popping candy dancing on your tongue. Saisons were originally made on farms alongside cheese and their affinity continues today. This will go great with a variety of soft rind cheeses along with tangy, harder cheeses. There is so much food that will be great with this beer so give it a try.
Andy has clearly been working extremely hard to hone his talent and passion. He always seems to be smiling and is clearly enjoying himself. Elusive Brewing is in its early days but, if this beer is anything to go by, Elusive will soon be a name on the lips of everyone in the beer industry. And you will be able to say you had their first batch of bottled beers!
Cheers to Andy and Elusive Brewing!