Last summer the guys at the farm shop said they want to make a beer. I thought it was a great idea but if it was going to be really good we needed to make sure we did it with a top brewer. Both myself and Gavin wanted to make a saison, also know as a farmhouse ale. The reason for this is that saison is one of the best beers to go with a multitude of foods and with me and Gavin making this beer it had to go with food! With all that in mind we had to go for the best saison brewer that we knew, it was Andy at Elusive Brewing. Andy’s Lord Nelson was a real favourite with the staff at the farm shop so it was only natural that we make the beer with him. Thankfully Andy was up to the challenge as we started planning for this farm shop ale!
We wanted this beer to be great with food so it made sense to see if we could get Rui from AND UNION on board as their beers are some of the best beers that pair with food. Rui said yes and the brewing dream team was set. 2 chefs and 2 brewers! But would too many chefs spoil the broth? I started talking to Andy about how I wanted the beer to be. I wanted to use some of the German hops that AND UNION use in their beers and another German hop called Bavaria Mandarina. Sadly we couldn’t set a day when we would all be available, so Rui wasn’t able to make it for the day when we could use Andy’s brewery. With that in mind we held a conference call to discuss the beer. I thought we had a great idea of how the beer would be. Then Rui threw a curve ball! Rui said we should make an English saison using local ingredients. Rui made the point that there were lots of good British breweries making good saisons, but not many were making an English one. Saison yeast is very particular and imparts a particular flavour on the beer. In order to get around that we had to think really creatively. Rui also suggested using oats, which is a very British ingredient and can add to the body and mouthfeel. I started thinking about what ingredients we could use locally and were in season, appropriately for a saison as it translates to season. Our search for a local alternative to yeast didn’t come to fruition (but I still hold out some hope for the future) but we were able to use quince from Emsworth as well as medlar and apples from the Stansted Estate.
The brew day was great fun and everything went smoothly under Andy’s expert eye. The beer tasted great a month later, before being bottled. However the cold weather in January and February meant that the yeast lay dormant in the bottle as the brewery wasn’t warm enough (Andy must have also been very cold at this time) for the secondary fermentation. Eventually Andy gave up on the weather and took the bottles home to start the secondary fermentation process, which brings the carbonation. To finish off we got Sammy, who previously worked at the farm shop, to design the label.
The resulting beer is a well balanced, fruity saison. On the nose you get plenty of apple and the traditional saison yeast notes. In the mouth, all the fruit is well balanced and the natural sugars have dried out resulting in a dry fruity beer that has a good complexity. The length is excellent with pear drops and white wine coming through at the end. As you would expect with the ingredients we used, this will be great with a quality aged cheddar. Pork will be an ultimate pairing, whether it be a simple stew, roast, grilled or bread crumbed and fried served with crushed potatoes with a young goats cheese and chives. This beer can probably hold up to a bit of spice. Give it a go an let us know what great pairing you have found.
The beer will be launched exclusively at the Stansted Farm shop birthday bash. We would love to hear what you think of our first beer. We think it will be a great beer for wine lovers, cider lovers, food lover and beer lovers! With all its fruitiness its best not to chill it too much otherwise you will lose some of that flavour. Store at room temperature and put in the fridge for 20-30 minutes before serving