Craft Beer: Take the thyme with The Farmer Is The Man
I have made several unsuccessful attempts to grow a herb garden. First up was a window box, which saw my rosemary and thyme feel the full force of the elements.
I've had various pots of things here and there and then a lockdown planter which probably would have yielded some basil had it not been for the rocket which colonised most of the growing area.
Although a jar of dried herbs will only set you back a quid, there's nothing quite like chucking a few fresh ones onto a joint of meat or roast vegetables to give them a flavour awakening.
But while herbs are a welcome addition to food, what the hell have they got to do with beer? Don't worry, this isn't a food pairing column because, as those lazy days around Christmas can attest to, any food goes with beer.
This week I picked up a can of The Farmer Is the Man – a saison from our own farmhouse brewers Heaney's.
Now while saisons have sprouted up in the farmlands of Wallonia, it is the rural fields of the south Derry which are responsible for this latest twist on the style, where a particular herb makes an intriguing addition.
The Farmer Is The Man, which some of certain age will recognise as a song by folk music rabble rouser Pete Seeger, is a lemon and thyme saison.
Clocking in at 5.3 per cent, it pours a murky amber colour in the glass with a slight white head.
I like a saison that has a certain weight to it. Many can be thin and although they are refreshing at the time, can be instantly forgettable. This is not one of them.
There's plenty going on here amid the murkiness. There's an initial fresh citrus feel from the lemon and the usual funky yeast notes coming though.
The thyme comes through slowly but it is soon at the forefront and not only does it give it a little herby feel, it adds a level of earthy sweetness to it (which is probably why it works so well with roasted carrots).
It's a saison which you will linger over for a while, not due to indifference, but more due to the possibility of pulling out different flavours each time.
It's all beautifully balanced and complex and much better use of lemon and thyme in my opinion than stuffing it into a chicken and bunging it in the oven.