In some instances, our brewers at Weird Beard are creatures of habit. Yes, we certainly like change in certain things: we have several hop-changing beers (Little Things That Kill, Holy Hoppin' Hell, Spreadsheet Ninja...etc) and we like to veer away from convention in terms of brewing, beer-style, ingredients, whatever we fancy - but all the while we do have our habits. One being, when it comes to a brewery milestone such as a centenary brew, we like to go BIG. It's just how we do those things.
So, let's take a walk down memory lane...For our 100th brew, which took us 17 months to reach, we made an amplified version of our award-winning Black Perle, a coffee milk stout. This was Double Perle, a double stout version with a similar recipe but additional lashings of lactose and more coffee.
We approached our 200th brew a little quicker, 11 months after, and we made Defacer. This was a triple IPA version, still a redevelopment of a previous brew: Sorachi Face Plant (double IPA) beer. Sorachi Face Plant, itself, was an amped up version of Little Things That Kills (Summit, Apollo and Sorachi Ace edition), also known to some as "Sorachi Face Punch". Digressions aside, fast forward 9 months later, we hit brew 300 and we're sticking to the same trend in how we mark the special occasion. Since we're still going strong, the beer that we put out, it's gotta match that.
This time around, true to our Weird Beard selves, we remained unconventional in our ideas for the brew. We re-developed the recipe of Saison 14, a 5.6% French/Belgian Farmhouse Ale to make an imperial version, which the name quite obviously yet cleverly implies. Voilá Saison 28!
Like I said, we mark milestones with a bigger beer. We increased the grainbill and tweaked the proportions of malts used so we could hit an ABV above 10%. To counteract the sweetnes of the higher malt-base, we ensured we enhanced the hops adequately. Keeping to the same hop-schedule of Saison 14, we simply made sure we added more of the same: Pacific Gem and Sorachi Ace. "Of course, there is Sorachi in this special beer", we hear you say. Indeed, we love the stuff!
With Saison 28, the malts and hops play well together to create flavours of candied fruit. Pacific Gem boasts NZ tropical fruit notes but in this beer, it's all about candied papaya and juicy blackberries intermingling. With Sorachi Ace, you've got flavours of lemon-curd developing into coconut. And somewhere in-between, you get candied orange coming through.
We think these well-matched, fruit-bowl flavours lend themselves to the refreshing quality of a Saison, a beer that we like to sip all through Summer. And, although this beer is big on all accounts, it wouldn't be a Saison by any means, without the Belgian yeast quality. Belle Saison yeast imparts a bold, full-on Farmhouse flavour that rises up to the challenge of the magnitude of hops we've chucked into this brew. The hops here aren't timid; you get them on the nose, in tasting the beer and the lingering bitterness. It's that bitterness that made us decide to call this beer an Imperial Farmhouse IPA. Even as hoppy, bitter and just the right amount of boozy this beer may be, it's undeniably a saison with spice and peppery flavours coming from the yeast in the finish.
So there you have the lowdown behind Saison 28. Happy 300th brew to us and happy drinking to you; there's most definitely a "Cheers" in that.
Not only is this beer a celebratory brew but it's the kind that's for sharing so we've packaged it into 660ml bombers. Saison 28 will be launching on keg at our event at The Hopsmiths on 26th May from 4pm and will be available from then on after.