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Towards the end of last year, I headed over to Manchester to do a spot of judging at the SIBA North event, along with Rob and Dean Pugh of Foley’s fame. A good day was had by all, and at one point I found myself sitting at a table with, amongst others, Mark Tranter of Dark Star. I obviously didn’t let on that I knew who he was – as I have previous, calamitous history when meeting people I admire (when you see me next, ask me about my cringeworthy the-time-I-met-Sam-Beam story). Anyway, during the course of that round, he revealed he’d been doing ‘some brewing’ whilst up here, and left it at that.
Turns out that’s just another example of Mark’s self-deprecating nature. I’m assuming now, of course, that he was actually over at Marble (who else) creating this interesting, tasty take on Saison. Special 2011 (9%) is a tasty one alright, Ember-Amber in colour, and with a pleasingly thick, billowy head that bursts and pops, releasing sweet bubblegum/Juicy Fruit notes as it does so. Drinking it, there’s that cutting, pithy, citrus aspect that provides refreshment and an intake of breath, which is swallowed up eventually by more honeyed sweetness.
For a Saison, it’s not light at all; it’s a big, boozy beer with tonnes of depth and sweetness that’s perfect for sharing about and savouring. I craved a cheeseboard whilst drinking it (something that Steve over at Beers I’ve Known did with great success here). As the offspring between two of the UK’s best brewers it’s tasty, complex and suitably boozy. Both should be pretty darn pleased.
If you see any about (and you might be lucky now) then don’t hesitate to pick one up.