Kinnegar: One for Ronan (Ireland: Saison: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Caramel to chestnut brown body with a massive browned mounded head that leaves suds.

Nose: Malt drinks. Crushed peanuts. Cinnamon and orange skin. Perfume. Mild ground chocolate. Very milky coffee.

Body: Soft lemon and lime. Light cream. Rustic feel. Good bitterness and gritty hop character. Chestnut mushrooms. Smooth base. Malt drinks. Peppery. Very slight sweet sugar cane.

Finish: Peppery. Wheaty. Cornflakes. Moderate bitterness and light gritty feel. Soft lime. Charring. Malt chocolate drinks. Nuts. Slight yeast funk. Very slight sweet sugar cane.

Conclusion: An odd mix of several varied Belgian characteristics here in this beer. The smooth Belgian texture that is used well in a wide range of Belgian beers. The more rustic saison notes which match with a light peppery character. Then finally a level of hop prickle and bitterness that … is actually fairly odd for Belgian beers, even their more bitter beers don’t tend to express it in quite the new wave prickly bitter style like this does.

It keeps things interesting I’ll give it that.

Despite mentioning new wave hopping styles above, the best way I can describe the resulting mix is like a smooth Belgian saison meets a British best bitter. The hopping is prickly, but the overall feel of Belgian style meeting that bitterness is that kind of heavy and solid Best Bitter style, but with a bunch of Belgian twists.

The main flavours are in that robust middle – good bitterness, peppery spice, malt drinks and such. Nothing too unusual but well delivered. However there are some soft creamy citrus notes in there as well – more so early on, as he bitterness rises during the beer’s lifespan they end up pushed to hints around the edges. There is also a bit of the fun Belgian style with yeast characteristics in there giving light esters to a mild as can be sweet cane sugar touch. Not the most complex set of notes but covers the base set of bitter/sweet/etc pretty well. It more uses that varied set of textures to keep things interesting rather than the flavour.

So – it isn’t a classic – but it feels like a very polished remix of the saison and the bitter. It adds a few twists to each by matching them with the other, and it ends up more than the sum of its parts. A solid drinking pint for the pub, with a lot more to it than that term may indicate. Basically, the next level of a solid standby drinking ale.

Background: A beer brewed in memory of Ronan Walsh – I have to admit I do not know who this is but will raise a drink to their name. Was unsure on beer style for this – the label says “Belgian Amber” but also refers to it as a saison. In a pinch I’ve gone with Saison even if it is a tad atypical for that style. This was grabbed from Brewdog’s guest beer section and drunk while listening to some of The Kominas. Not much else to say at this point. Enjoy your drink!

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