Wild Saison. Two words that instantly grab my interest.
When I learned that La Sirene, a recent addition to the Australian beer landscape, were releasing a Wild Saison, I knew I had to get on that right away. I love Saisons and I love anything with so-called “wild” yeast. The yeast here is brettanomyces. Generally it lends a slightly tart , leathery flavour and is normally associated with sour beers. More recently it’s being used in non-sour styles.
I recently wrote about La Sirene in an article about contract and “gypsy” brewing for Australian Brews News. Read it here
In addition to the brett yeast that I mentioned up there, this is a Saison style beer. A traditional style, fermented at higher temperatures originally brewed in Belgium. Saisons have seen a revival in more recent years and more modern versions are generally higher in abv than the traditional versions, designed to be a refreshing drink for farmworkers on Belgian farms.
This one is 6.5% and comes in a 375ml bottle. Purchased from Slowbeer Melbourne.
How does it look?
With a pure white smooth and luxurious head, the beer sits underneath hazy and with colours of gold and straw. The head refuses to dissipate and clings to the sides as it’s drunk. If you’re heavy-handed when you pour you’ll have to be patient as it settles out in the glass. It is far too heavy on carbonation but it is refermented in the bottle with wild yeast – so what’s the big rush? Just take your time.
This beer reminds me of all those things.
How does it smell/taste?
Slightly leathery, with a bit of earthy lemon, sugary sherbet and what is known in the beer world as “barnyard” – but it’s all very restrained.
There is a nice amount of hop bitterness as you drink it, with a small amount of brett, and a sweet biscuity lemon finish. If you’ve ever eaten jelly crystals from the packet, imagine a grown-up complex lemon version.
It takes me back to childhood while also managing to be subtle and refined all at the same time.
When should I drink it?
Pizza. The thinnest crust, fine Italian style crunchy pizza. Some rich tomato, fine buffalo mozzarella and maybe a small handful of earthy mushrooms.
A crunchy but delicate wood fired pizza.
Ladro (warning, that link has auto-playing sound) one of Melbourne’s finest pizza restaurants, does a $5 BYO monday for charity. Take a loved one and share a bottle or two of this.
My last review was about the terrifyingly bitter Hoptimum. A beer made to be all hops and nothing else. This beer is the perfect antidote. The ingredients combine beautifully together giving this beer incredible depth while it manages to remained incredibly drinkable.
This won’t be for everyone. It doesn’t pack a huge punch and amaze with interesting and unique out-there flavour. Admittedly I wanted more brett characters the first time around and it wasn’t until my second bottle that I realised how much I loved it.
One of my new favourites.
La Sirene also make a regular Saison, and have released another new beer which is a “Farmhouse Red”.
Bridge Road Brewers – Chevalair Saison; Probably the best Australian saison going.
Mikkeller – USAlive; Similar use of brett yeast in a hoppier beer. The brett gives a nice tart finish before the bitterness settles in.