Beetroot beer? Tastes pretty good, actually. Try it with cheese
Beerista: Two Irish saisons to try for the weekend, from Hopfully and Kinnegar
Beet Juice: Hopfully’s saison pours a lovely bright pink and has a good frothy head
One of my favourite beer styles is the Belgian saison. This earthy, citrusy and thirst-quenching ale was tipped as the next big thing in craft brewing a few years ago, with many breweries releasing their own take on the farmhouse style.
But consumers were, and still are, obsessed with hops and IPAs, and didn’t seem to share brewers’ excitement about this unique-tasting beer. Complications also started to arise from saison yeasts contaminating other beers in production, causing refermentation and exploding cans.
Loosely speaking, a saison is a dry Belgian ale made with a distinctive saison yeast – and that’s where the problems lie. It took brewers a few years to understand the risks involved with this unpredictable yeast. Many now use them with extra precautions while others, unwilling to risk infection, have found workarounds and use other yeasts that mimic the flavour of the saison one.
Beet Juice, by the Dublin brewery Hopfully, is a beetroot saison, 4.2 per cent alcohol, and comes with a “do not age” warning on the can. This pours a lovely bright pink and has a good frothy head. You’ll get lots of earthy beetroot on the aroma, with a hint of lemon and thyme. It’s fairly light-bodied, and dry, and overall has a herbal flavour, with high carbonation (typical of saison), and works well as a refreshing counterpoint to a cheeseboard.
Kinnegar’s Merrytiller is a dry-hopped 5.2 per cent saison, and it has lots of lemon citrus on the aroma, and a touch of white pepper. It’s a little sweeter than other saisons, but overall it’s easy-going and light-bodied and would work well as an introduction to the style.
You can buy both of these beers from, among other places, the Mace on South Circular Road in Dublin 8, which has a fantastic selection of refrigerated beers – definitely worth checking out.