Harvest Saison 2020
Initially starting life as our standard saison recipe, our Harvest Saison was transferred onto Dudda's Tun cider lees part way through fermentation. The beer was then left on the lees for 12 months, before being transferred into oak for the final ageing process. After several months in the barrel we then transferred the beer back into tank for carbonation and canning. The resulting beer has a slightly tart, red berry edge, with an underlying normandy cider style dry apple character. It is a refreshing, but complex beer and is probably the peak of our little barrel ageing project so far.
Making beer in this way is always a voyage of discovery, handing the beer over to an unknown blend of microbes for several months. By blending several barrels we can start to shape the finished flavour profile, but we also have to be prepared for the fact that the barrels might not give us anything that is worth drinking.
The challenges of beer like this increase with each additional step. Initially we did the fermentation in steel to control the oxygen content in the tank, and thereby keep the acetic acid produced by the microbes under control. Transferring into barrels allowed some of this to develop in a more restrained way once the main fermentation was done, and allowed us to pick up some of the oak and wine characteristics from the barrels. Putting the beer back into tank in the brewery, and running it through the canning machine requires faith in our cleaning and sanitising procedures, as any of the microbes in this beer could have seriously detrimental effects to future beers if they survive the cleaning process.