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Magic in the Wold

By Fergus Fitzgerald, also posted in News on

The Herbalist Hoppy SaisonBack in April 2014 I went to Denver to judge at the World Beer Cup. It was a great experience and I met some great people. Some of those great people were UK brewers, and one of those was Rich from Magic Rock Brewing. I knew of Magic Rock and I have always been really impressed with their beers and the way that they went about branding, there also always seemed to be an air of integrity about what they were doing. Over some late night, extra curricular, quality-control we got talking, particularly about the American craft brewers we have had over to brew at Adnams, which to my mind reads like a hit-list of some of the best brewers in the US. A few beers into the conversation, Rich wondered why we didn’t do a collaboration brew with a UK brewer similar to the ones we had done with the US breweries for JD Wetherspoon. We had just done exactly that with Camden Town and really enjoyed it so Rich and I agreed that it would be a great idea if we brewed a beer together, normally such conversations don’t lead to anything but this one led us to The Herbalist. Once we were back in the UK and we’d sorted out a brewing date that didn’t coincide with one of us building a new brewery or being in another country, we threw around a few ideas. Most of them were thrown out, but Rich mentioned that he loved the collaboration brew that Stone, Dogfish Head and Victory Brewing in the US had put together. At the same time I’d been toying with the idea of creating a Saison beer with some pineapple weed (Matricaria matricariodes, or wild chamomile) that Julie, my wife, had told me about. I wanted to build the beer around more pineapple and lemon-accented herbs, but also dry-hopping it with some of our favourite hops. So, having found some fairly obscure herbs like pineapple weed and pineapple sage, we added in some lemon thyme and some amazing lemon verbena. In fact the Verbena smelt so amazing that we decided it should become the driving force behind the recipe. The malt base was kept quite simple with pale ale, pilsner and a touch of pale rye. The bittering hops were Centennial, partly to mark the fact that the idea came about from the trip to Denver in Colorado, which is known as the Centennial State. Dry hops were a combination of Mosaic, Citra and Vic Secret which add some fantastic lemon, mango and pineapple notes to the beer which really complement the flavours of the herbs. We used a combination of our in-house yeast and a Belgian Saison yeast to add a touch of our house character and that spicy Saison dry finish. So Rich and Stu, Magic Rock’s head brewers, came down and brewed the beer with Belinda, Dan and me and I think it's fair to say they enjoyed their trip to the seaside. The brewhouse smelt amazing and it wasn’t just Stu’s beard oil, although that obviously helped. It was a pleasure to have Stu and Rich down to brew with us and I really hope you enjoy the beer. The Herbalist is launching at The Pelt Trader on Thursday 26th March (5-8pm), and it will be available online and in Adnams stores in 5L mini-casks from Friday 27th March 2015. The Herbalist will also be available in selected pubs from Friday 27th March.

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Fergus Fitzgerald

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