Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Ilkley Siberia Saison

Good evening all. Tonight's beer is Siberia Saison, a Saison from Ilkley Brewery (Ilkley, UK). This beer is the result of a collaboration between Ilkley Brewery and Melissa Cole, beer writer and author of "Let Me Tell You About Beer", and has been brewed with rhubarb and a myriad of hop types. Being both a Saison and an interesting collaboration (two significant positives for me), this beer has been on my "must try" list for quite some time. I was planning to wait until GBBF to sample it but couldn't resist getting a bottle after seeing it in stock at Beer Ritz at the same time as I was putting through an order, so let's see if it lives up to the hype. Review after the pic....

Siberia Saison (5.9% ABV) pours an opaque straw colour with a thick bubbly white head that retains itself on the surface of the beer throughout. Loads of carbonation on this bad boy (the bottle opened with a satisfying pop and I had even had to scoop some of the foam out to continue pouring!) and even some early lacing in the glass- certainly looks like a Saison to me! The aroma is very interesting, with phenolic spice, earthy/herbal notes, funk, some fruity hop character (mango, possibly even grapefruit) and a light honey sweetness in the background.  Later on, as the nose becomes accustomed to the traditional Belgian yeast aromas, the malt makes itself known with biscuit and bread aromas. In true Saison fashion, everything is well-balanced and relatively subtle. The taste builds upon the nose marvelously, with phenols, biscuit malt, bittering hops, funk (reminiscent of Brett) and some tartness in the finish. It does seem like a very English take on a Saison, as the malt comes through more than with standard Belgian Saison offerings, and the rhubarb offers some interesting tartness after drinking that acts as a good transition into the dry aftertaste, warranting frequent sips. At times it also tastes like a hefeweizen, with cloves and banana becoming more noticeable during drinking and in the finish, particularly towards the end of the beer. The mouthfeel is thick and the beer is well carbonated which, in my opinion, always works well with this beer style. Overall, this is a very impressive beer that, whilst being inherently Belgian, is also unmistakably English in its execution. Spicy, sweet, slightly sour, light and very drinkable- perfect for the summer. Highly recommended!

Until next time....

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