Les Amis Du Brassage Saison is a Fork Brewing and Burning Sky brew collab, which has taken a three-year brew process, and is launching in New Zealand at Fork & Brewer’s Road to Beervana event, Burning Sky & Maori Kai. Here’s the timeline in Kelly’s words….
– August 13 2014 – It’s been a while since I’ve contacted my great friend and brewer extraordinaire, Mark Tranter. I’ve just had some great news that I’ve been invited over for my second Wetherspoon’s brew at Everard’s Brewery in Leicestershire and am keen to catch up with Mark and check out his new brewery, Burning Sky, in Firle, Sussex. I send him an email and he replies quickly. He’s keen for us to make some great beer. The last time, we had combined forces with Wild Beer Co. in Somerset and brewed a lovely wee beer called Shnoodlepip and we were keen to get creative.
– August – October 2014 – A series of emails and phone calls result in the formulation of a series of ideas for the brew:
Hibiscus and Rooibos infusion
Addition of young Lambic
Potential late dry hop, possibly in oak? UK hops.
– October 10, 2014 – After discussion around Mark’s Saison brewing techniques, his yeast strain, fermentation temperatures, the addition of Brettanomyces and Lactic Acid Bacteria strains and the possibility of some ageing in Oak barrique for maturation and flavour development, we begin to get closer to a recipe. We discuss the addition of Rooibos, a wonderfully refreshing caffeine-free tea popular in South Africa to add a hint of herbal grassiness. Also to be added are tangy, pink peppercorns, Target hops from a farm close to Burning Sky and something even more special!
– October 24, 2014 – We brew. It goes well. We also taste some wort that Mark gets from a brewery in Belgium called Girardin. This wort is naturally inoculated with yeasts from the Girardin brewery and surrounds and Mark then allows the natural/spontaneous fermentation to occur in barrels at Burning Sky prior to using it for blending. A rosehip infusion is added at this point, as is a combination of yeast and bacteria strains. The future of this brew excites us beyond compare!
– October 2014 – September 2015 – A series of emails fly backwards and forwards as Mark charts the ebb and flow of this beer throughout the barrel-ageing process. December 2014 sees it tasting incredible and then, with the nature of mixed ferments and the unpredictability of barrels, there comes a sad time in January 2015 as it changes. There are concerning moments when it ebbs, when the complexities of the yeast throw off bubblegum and other aromatics that need calming words and thoughts. March 2015 sees the addition of Brettanomyces bruxellensis to the barrels to further the fermentation. There are moments of excitement when the beer tastes to Mark as we had imagined over a year ago. And it is even more exciting knowing that I’ve been invited back to brew again at Shepherd Neame in Faversham and can begin the second part of this beer!
– September 6, 2015 – The Euston Tap, London and a very tired, slightly jet-lagged Kelly meets up with Mark to do a wee bit of blending! Mark has made the journey from the Sussex countryside to the capital and we sit upstairs at the Tap, small soda bottles filled with lambic and the Saison. Pure geekdom with our measuring cylinder in hand, we calculate a 10% blend ratio of lambic to the Saison. The lambic itself was brewed in the 2013/2014 season and we know by the time the beer comes to fruition, that it’s flavour profile will get better and better. We are happy.
– October 5, 2016 – Time has gone on as the beer slumbers and matures. We fire ideas back and forth and come up with a name we think is fitting for a beer that celebrates our friendship of nearly 10 years. We met through brewing and we name the beer as such. It helps that Mark is a wizard of French lexicon after a lot of time spent in Paris, so Les Amis du Brassage is born.
– March 17, 2017 – The beer makes its way to tank for the final Lambic blend, with the emptied barrels to be used for Mark’s coolship brew.
– May 10, 2017 – Mark gets in touch to say that the kegs are tasting incredible. The bottles are taking slightly longer to condition, which is a concern, until…
– May 19, 2017 – I get a happy message from Mark saying that the bottles are conditioned! Dry, subtle fruit and spice, the classic musty goodness of old lambic. A delight! I contact Beertique up in Auckland and we get the ball rolling to get this beauty and a few other special creations down to NZ for our Road to Beervana event.
– August 9, 2017 – It is released. Complete with wonderful artwork by the talented Simon Gane. Nearly three years after the idea began.