After two weeks in the bottle, I opened the first trial bottle of the saison this afternoon.
I think it is fair to say that it is a little young, and it will be interesting to see how this ages in the bottle. However, time for first impressions.
I cooled the bottle down, it having conditioned in the warm, then coolish kitchen. Removing it from the fridge for 30 minutes seemed the best way to get to a decent serving temperature. And cool it should be; this beer is well carbonated, and probably needs cooling to prevent serious foaming when you uncap the bottle.
It poured with a decent effervescence, but nothing that meant I lost the beer. It is a bark russet red/brown in colour, not black. Although there is wheat malt in the beer, I neither got a decent head (just a thin lacing of foam), nor, apparently, a cloudiness you might expect. As far as I can see, through the darkness, the beer is clearing well.
On the nose is that faint Belgian yeast smell, that I always find really inviting with Belgian beer. The dry hopping has added aroma, but if you are thinking North American hops; all citrus and tropical fruits, that's just not there.The hoppiness is more woody, more European/British, if it is there are at all.
The first taste was unusual. That slight saison sourness, with a hit of chocolate which develops more as the beer warms slightly. The finish is dry; pleasing bitterness, but almost flint dry so that the beer finishes really early leaving that roasted malt taste - more black coffee than mocha. Because of this, I wonder if this is a beer to pair with food rather than just drink as is, as it may cut through some foods.
Very interesting. I am starting to think bottling it by the pint may not have been wise, though. This feels like a half pint measure, but I suppose you can always share!
I was tasting this as I mashed for another brew. This time, I've gone for something pale. A bit of a pain as my water is all wrong for pale ale, so I had to boil it first and get rid of some alkalinity - note to self, buy some carbonate reduction solution! Anyway, I'm going for a clone of the rather lovely Coniston Bluebird, but following this trend, I am getting half the IBUs by throwing a load of hops for the last 5 minutes. The aim is to get a really great hop hit, but with the bittering added. I have a load of Challenger that need to be used, so, why not?