Damson biere de saison

Categories: Product of the week

A gentle beer for sunshine drinking, brewed in Bermondsey, available at Utobeer

Evin O’Riodain, founder of Kernel brewery, began his path to beer brewing in Neal’s Yard Dairy. He eventually found himself in the States, studying cheesemaking. It was there that post-cheesemaking class drinks led him to discover the burgeoning US craft beer scene. It was a lightbulb moment. On his return, he threw himself headfirst into homebrewing. He found himself an archway (next to Neal’s Yard’s creamery, incidentally) in Bermondsey, and set up a brewery. That was back in 2009.

“They’re probably my favourite UK brewery,” says Tida of Utobeer, where several of the Kernel’s range are available by the bottle. “They’re not shouty about their beers—they don’t do any advertising and even the branding is simple; black font on plain brown labels. And their beers are really lovely”—and incredibly popular, oft cited as being at the vanguard of London’s beer scene.

“The range of Kernel saisons we have in at the moment is particularly interesting,” Tida continues. “They’re traditional, farmhouse-style beers, meaning the flavour is based mainly on yeast rather than hops.” The yeast makes for a ‘clean’ base, to which layers of flavour can be added. “Farmhouse beers originated in France and Belgium, where the farmers would brew beers for the workers using local yeasts and add flavour in the form of whatever was on the farm—bay, coriander, fruit.”

Sweet-tart flavour
The damson biere de saison is made with a blend of fresh and aged saisons, which are then re-fermented in the tank with—you guessed it—kilos of whole British damsons. These autumnal fruits are left to infuse their sweet-tart flavour for four months. The stuff on the stall was bottled in January—“but they get better with age”—and is ripe for sunshine drinking. “It’s a soft, gentle beer, perfect for anybody who doesn’t like bitter,” Tida continues. “It’s dry, as is typical of a saison, but with a little sweetness from the damsons. You can really taste the fruit—and see it. It’s a really pretty pink-y red colour.”

It pairs well with many of the foods you want to eat at this time of year; think flaky white fish and light goat’s and ewe’s milk cheeses. “It also goes really well with Thai food—those bright, lemongrass-y flavours,” says Tida. “It’s not difficult to drink! It’s a very good summer beer.”