Monday, 10 November 2014

Savour Beer: British Beers Belgian Style

There was a fair bit of chitchat on social media last week regarding a “public apology” YouTube video from a British brewer to the Champagne Bureau. The French organization, in charge of protecting the term Champagne, was not impressed with the recent release of a sparkling beer - described as being “Champagne-style” - deeming its use to promote the beer “unduly” and “unfair practice”. Personally, I think the brewer’s response couldn’t be better; who can argue with a man in a dunce hat surrounded by photos of the Queen and Bruce Forsyth? (scroll down to see the video) And the brewer in question?... Savour Beer.

A few weeks ago I went to a ‘Meet the Brewer’ event with Savour Beer at my local Indie Beer merchant, Favourite Beers. I learnt the brief bio behind the one-man-company, and tried the full range of their British Belgian styled beers, including the offending sparkling number!

Sandy, the chap responsible for Savour Beer, thanks a weekend trip to Belgium (and a questionable night on the Rochefort 10’s) for this venture in the drinks industry. Sat in a cafĂ© in Ghent, beer in hand, this is where his epiphany took place; it was nothing like he’d ever tasted, and the beer culture, with all the specific glassware etc, was nothing like he’d ever experienced.

Coming back to the UK, Sandy felt discontent with the numerous bland lagers and lack of variety, so he decided to take matters into his own hands. With a mission to create a beer with the same stature, provenance and social standing as any Champagne, wine or spirit, Savour Beer was born; aiming to give British beer the respect it truly deserves. Considering he had no industry experience, money, or any idea of what he was getting himself in for, quitting the day job to pursue the dream seems to have worked out pretty well for him!

Savour Beer comes in 4 varieties - a blonde, dubbel, saison, and sparkling beer brut – all of which are bloomin’ lovely and perfect for drinking on their own, or matched with food.

The Blonde (330ml) is a 6.5% ‘Belgian pilgrimage’; the simplistic malt and subtle hop structure allow fruits and spice to shine through generating a refreshing finish.
The Nose: Fruity aroma with spiced orange and coriander.
The Palate: Smooth, medium fullness with citrus notes.
The Finish: Sweet biscuit malt with bitterness emerging.
Food Match: Roast chicken, white fish or medium cheddars.

The 7.0% Dubbel is all the C’s; cinnamon and caramel with contemplation. Again, available in either 330ml or 750ml bottles, this opulent brew gives a knowing nod to the Belgians. Dark, delicious and indulgent; treat it like a good red wine and pair with rich foods.
The Nose: Dark fruits, cinnamon and caramel.
The Palate: Smooth malt balanced with delicate hop bitterness.
The Finish: Slight sweetness with spices, fruits and a warming intensity.
Food Match: Gamey red meats, dark fruits/chocolate desserts or strong cheese.

‘Capturing the essence of refinement,’ Savour’s Saison is a beer with elegance and finesse. At 5.0%, available in 330ml or 750ml bottles, it was awarded 3 gold stars in this year’s Great Taste Awards. Yeast spices and lemongrass flourish on the nose, complimented with floral, citrusy hops, and a second fermentation on Champagne yeast creates a delightful bittersweet mouth feel. This makes for an excellent foodie beverage.
The Nose: Yeast spices and lemongrass.
The Palate: Smooth, medium fullness with citrus.
The Finish: Slightly dry, with hop bitterness.
Food Match: Delicately spiced Asian dishes, salmon, crab or calamari.

The Sparkling Beer Brut is a Belgian style golden ale in a whopping 75cl sparkling wine style bottle (complete with a cork and cage). Brewed using 100% British malted barley, hops and 3 yeast strains, it is matured in the bottle for 100 days before being riddled and disgorged using the traditional “Champagne” methods to remove yeast sediment. New to the market, there were only 670 of these unique bottles made (so far), and this luxurious 10.5% number is definitely one to take note of.
The Nose: Floral, honey and spices.
The Palate: Rich, smooth with hints of caramel.
The Finish: Highly effervescent and intense finish with a slight sweetness.
Food Match: Strong cheese or roast chicken.

To quote Sandy in his video, “Savour Beer has absolutely nothing to do with Champagne. It doesn’t taste, smell or look like Champagne. It isn’t made in Champagne and [he’s] personally never even been to Champagne; except of course it uses the traditional method which is also used in the making of Champagne, but anyway...”

Sod the politics, this brand of beer sure is one to be savoured and I’d recommend you check it out.

You’ll find your local stockists on their website, but if you’d prefer to purchase online then a case of 12 x 330ml bottles are £28 from Best of British Beer, and the 75cl Sparkling Beer Brut is £18 from Beer Hawk.

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