Northern Monks: Real Junk Food Project: Wasted (England: Saison: 6.7% ABV)
Visual: Dried apricot coloured. Massive yellowed mounded bubbles for a head that leaves suds.
Nose: Wheaty. Buttery shortbread. Pear. Gingerbread. Spiced pumpkin.
Body: Smooth bitterness. Vanilla toffee. Rustic yeastie character. Cheddar. Light hop character. Light pepper. Custard. Apples. Dried apricot. Pumpkin. Malt drinks.
Finish: Pear drops. Puff crisps . Croissants and butter. Light pepper. Light hop bitterness. Custard. Malt drinks.
Conclusion: I love the idea for this beer, love the bottle image, love that they used food destined to be chucked it away to make it. So… Do I love the beer itself?
It it seemly a Saison Dupont inspired beer at its base, with quirks brought on by the special ingredients. That is a pretty high bar to try and clear. The Dupont influence can be seen in the custard to vanilla toffee back, with crisp hops used over it. Very smooth, though nowhere near as well done with the hops as the quintessential Saison Dupont – but the sweet soothing malt base part is very competently done.
The unusual ingredients are mixed in the quality of their influence. You can see the pear influence top and tail, but it is pretty absent mid body – it is more of a subtle influence on everything else than a stand out element by itself. For the croissant, well, I’m not sure if it is the base beer and I am just mistakenly attributing it, but there is a fresh croissant kind of character – half way between a wheat beer and buttery shortbread is the best was I can describe it. Any which way it feels spot on for the croissant influence.
It has a very smooth, very drinkable character – nothing hard edged here – the hops and bitterness are very restrained. The character manages to to not be too clean though due to a funky, kind of cheesy, character – odd as on the bottle they list they use champagne yeast which I would not associate with this character, but whatever they did gives the Belgian character well.
So, on the good side – it is smooth, easy drinking, catches the farmhouse ale style, but due to its quirk sit is a bit different. For flaws – well despite the quite varied notes I’ve listed, most of them are just at the edge of the beer sensations – at its core it is actually kind of simple. It isn’t a massively rewarding beer experience to examine and dissect. So overall, good idea, nice easy drinking beer, not much more than that – nowt special but no complaints.
Background: OK, this one just fascinated me, a beer made to minimise waste – made with pears, croissants and brioche that were going to be thrown away, spent hops and malt donated, yeast reused and glass recycled. It is a neat idea, so I grabbed it from Independent Spirit for drinking and examining (and from my side the bottle will be recycled once more!) Drunk while listening to Clonic Earth – the almost white noise mixed with discordant and ambient sounds made for a nice unusual background for this unusual ale.