We have just launched our latest beer Farmhouse; a Belgian saison-style ale with the addition of local rhubarb. But what makes a ‘saison’, and how did we make our version?
‘Biere de saison’ was originally brewed on Belgium farms in the winter months, to be drunk by seasonal farm workers that helped manage the farm in the summer. The original beer would have been fairly low in alcohol – the beer was drunk during the working day to keep hydrated, as in most cases it was safer to drink beer than the local water! Modern saisons tend to be higher in alcohol though, with a range of fruity and spicy flavours and high carbonation.
For our version I wanted to use an interesting local ingredient; and we had a small patch of rhubarb growing on the farm. I realised fairly quickly though that we didn’t have enough, so I put a call out to members of Linlithgow Farmily – a grow-your-own group which was set up during the first Covid lockdowns – to see if anyone had some spare. Lots of people from across Linlithgow kindly donated rhubarb from their gardens and allotments, and so Farmhouse is a genuine communal beer, with ingredients crowd-sourced from our local community.
After cleaning and sterilising it, we made a puree from the rhubarb and then added a little ginger as well to give some spicy notes. This was added at the fermentation stage, to give plenty of time for the flavours to infuse into the finished beer.
It was really fun to make a unique beer like this, and it was great to be able to use community-grown ingredients. Most importantly though, I think it tastes great!