Wild Beer Co: Hanging Bat: Blackfriars: Nanban: Yadōkai (England: Speciality Grain Saison: 13% ABV)
Visual: Clear still apple juice.
Nose: Apple juice. Alcoholic raspberry trifle. Sake. Shaken up bag of liquorice allsorts. Light toffee. Fresh apples.
Body: Apple juice. Sake(Nihonshu). Shoochuu. Earthy base. Grapes. Vanilla. Toffee. Coriander and carrot. Bright raspberry pavlova. Apricot. Thick. White chocolate. Rye. Pancakes.
Finish: Banana. Shoochuu. Liquorice. Apple. Carrot. Raspberry spirit. Seaweed wrap. Lemon. Dry white wine. Dried apricot. Pepper.
Conclusions: Oh my, very interesting indeed. I’ve had issues with high abv saisons before (yes, best I have heard this is, at its base a saison). I have found them either too light, or the inverse, too alcohol touched. This beer is weird as fuck, but awesome.
This has very little of your traditional saison character – a slight rustic base and coriander notes, but the strength of it gives a far more viscous feel. While sake is listed as the inspiration for the beer, and that is very true for the flavours, I find the viscous feel puts me much more in mind of another Japanese spirit – Shoochuu.
It all works though – you get good quality sake flavours from both dry and fruity sakes. It many ways I can see calls to the sake I tried at the Sake Jam hotel in Kyoto, and that was fine quality stuff.
That isn’t the main element though – what you have lying under that is a very Wild Beer co apple cider calling to styled beer, matched with an almost liquorice allsorts and earthy base, bringing in contrasting vanilla and toffee sweetness with the higher abv.
The thickness really makes it hang together, the extra weight and Shoochuu style does give it a rough edge at times but, for me, I will happily take extra rough edges for extra complexity – and sometimes I even prefer a rough edged over polished charm as long as it can justify it.
So what do we end up with? A remarkable beer, to say the least, with tons of layers to examine. There is definite umami, with seaweed wrap notes showing up in the finish, plenty of nihonsu and shoochuu flavours of all kinds over a sweet and yet somewhat saison based beer – it is utterly different to most beers out there.
It’s abv makes it one to share, but its character in not dull even by the end of a shared bottle, if it was lower abv I could keep examine its intricacies for ages. If you can, try it, this beer is worth it.
Background: Ok where to start? Readers of my blog probably know Wild Beer co by know. Hanging Bat is a very new brew group I don’t know much about. Nanban is the masterchef winner Tim Anderson, and Blackfriars is a restaurant … I think. When I first saw “nanban” I thought it translated as “what number?” which seemed an odd choice, but then I realised there may be other readings as I was only seeing the hiragana, not the kanji. A quick search revealed that it can translate as “southern barbarian” which was the term for the first arriving Europeans, which makes more sense. Yadōkai was a term for a set of mischievous monks – a quick google indicates there is quite an interesting background to this, which I may have to look into later. The beer is made with flaked rice, saison yeast, sea buckthorn, yuzu juice, and two types of seaweed. Whew. This was shared with friends as we chatted and discussed the flavours. Bought at Independent Spirit, if you hadn’t guessed.