Three weeks ago I went over to Brains in Cardiff to brew a saison as part of their continental beer challenge, which has seen a group of writers swap laptops for lauter tuns and come up with a beer with its roots in the European mainland. I immediately decided that I wanted to do a saison, a pale golden one albeit with a rigorous transfusion of American hops. We choose Centennial, Columbus and Citra, hence the name. On Sunday I was able to taste a couple of bottles of the beer and found it rather delicious, especially when paired with an aged, blue-veined Cheddar from Green’s of Glastonbury. It is pale and hazy in the glass, almost like a sunset seen through the filter of a disintegrating summer’s day, perhaps with the promise of something less benevolent to follow on the morrow. A sweet-sour nose, led by a snappy green apple note (plus a hint of fresh ripe peachiness); on the palate there is green apple snappiness, medium sweetness, a hint of white pepper and some fatness from the alcohol. The carbonation is sprightly with a moussec-like mouthfeel, while the finish has a initial light sweetness that is followed by an good dry finish. I loved it and am looking forward to trying it on keg at my local pub in the next couple of weeks. I like these brewing awaydays — I like the idea of suggesting various malt and hop combinations, I like the idea of trying to play with beer styles. It doesn’t make me a brewer anymore than the time I went up in a Hercules made me a pilot, but it all adds to the richness of life and given that 30 years ago you would have been hard-pressed to discover the ABV of most beers, never mind suggest that a major family brewery make a beer based on your own ideas, demonstrates how things have so changed for the better.