Craft Beer: Saison's greetings from Eight Degrees in form of Trespass and Blowhard
SAISONS and farmhouse ales are usually a summer thing, right? Well, a nice tangy, funky saison sure does go well on a warm summer's day, but the kind of experimental fermentation which goes on in farmhouse ales is good for the whole year round.
That is certainly the case with one of Eight Degrees' two seasonal offerings. Trespass is a farmhouse ale brewed using blackberries; it weighs in at 7.5 per cent and comes in a big 700ml bottle, so we're nearly into wine territory here.
It was brewed as a collaboration with Jamil Zainasheff, the owner of Herectic Brewing in California and something of a yeast beast in his own right, and he had brought that expertise to this intriguing brew.
It pours a dark brown, kind of rusty colour, with a fair bit of haze going on. You get nice sweet, jammy aromas and almost a hint of balsamic vinegar on the nose. On the palate, all those ripe blackberry flavours initially dominate before you get that tangy finish you'd expect from a farmhouse ale.
But there's a whole lot more in between. The beer has been aged in the Burgundy pinot noir and chardonnay wine barrels for over a year, and you definitely a vinous feel to it all. It has a nice woody profile too and even sweet toffee caramel flavour too, with a hint of bitter chocolate all before that lovely, dry finish.
It's a wonderfully complex beer and if you're the sort that likes to tear off a bit of the festive ham on Christmas Eve, this would be the perfect accompaniment – a splash of it might even help to glaze the meat too and it'll certainly partner up well with a seasonal cheeseboard.
They've been getting good use out of the barrels down in Mitchelstown as Eight Degrees have also released a belting imperial stout (they know my weakness).
Blowhard Imperial Stout evokes all sorts of whale analogies although you don't have to be Captain Ahab to land one of these – although only 1,000 have been bottled so you'll need to move fast if you want to track down your own Moby Dick.
The beer has been aged in Jameson whiskey barrels and clocks in at 12 per cent abv. There's a rich aroma of espresso and chocolate on the nose and lovely flavours of roasted malt, vanilla, chocolate and dried fruits on the palate.