Firebrand: Black Saison (England: Saison: 5% ABV)
Visual: Very dark brown to black body. Utterly massive beige loose bubbled head that is, frankly, solid as a rock. When it finally descends it leaves suds, to no one’s surprise.
Nose: Wheat. Coal dust. Bready. Malt drinks. Slight sour black cherry.
Body: Bitter. Liquorice undertones. Wheaty. Sour black cherry. Malt chocolate. Light peppery character. Light earthy and slight sour dough notes. Chocolate liqueur.
Finish: Charred oak. Good bitterness. Malt chocolate. Sour dough air. Riesen chews. Chives. Liquorice.
Conclusion: Black saisons! Hey, it makes more sense as a naming convention than black IPAs. As soon as I popped the cap on this I knew it was going to be a lively one. It wasn’t just the wisp of smoke like a recently fired gun barrel, but also the audible pop that warned you to “Go ahead, make my day”. 30 seconds later I had a mound of froth thrice the size of the body.
This beer is, at its base, a good old rustic saison with earthy and sour notes. However this is not just a saison, it is black saison, and because of the at the familiar recipe taken on a hell of an unfamiliar twist.
It has got that charred oak darkness to it, an element that I feel fits well with the earthy character – it leads it down a winding path that takes it to chocolate and sour black cherry. This is, however, a more restrained beer than that description makes it sounds. The flavours mentioned are side notes, deepening the beer rather than dominating it. It makes for a beer with that refreshing earthy saison drinkability, but with a bit of edge to it.
Overall, well the dark fruit and chocolate do a lot to add interest to this. If it was a standard saison I don’t think the base would carry it – as is it is a very drinkable walk on the wilder side of saison.
Background: Well, I listed this as brewed in England, and it is. However Cornwall, where it is brewed may disagree. They have their own flag. I like to think of them as a small English version of Texas. They may disagree with that assessment. I may also have just lost every single Cornish reader I have. Anyway, this was gift from Chris of Independent Spirit in return for a favour done. Many thanks. As always I will try to not let this affect the notes done, but thought I should say for full disclosure. This, as you can see from the photo, is just a tad lively, and was drunk while listening to Grimes: Oblivion. On loop. This may have sent a normal person insane over half an hour.