'Hand grenade' potential of beer bottles forces Little Creatures to release saison on tap

Scott Ellis
Little Creatures head brewer Russell Gosling with the saison.
Little Creatures head brewer Russell Gosling with the saison. Photo: STEPHEN LOBO

There's always a little alchemy involved in brewing a new beer, but Little Creatures has discovered there can be a little anarchy too.

Their latest single batch release, a traditional saison, has turned out to be quite a nice drop according to head brewer Russell Gosling…but something of a hand grenade when bottled.

"After intense testing of our next single batch saison pint bottles, our expectations are that the C02 levels will exceed the amount that is suitable to our product packaging standards, at some unknown point in time," Gosling said when announcing the beer this week.

"As a result, we won't be releasing the brew in pint bottles as planned, but on tap at all good craft beer venues around the country."

Translated, that means the beer bottles could have eventually exploded, which is not exactly a good thing.

The dilemma became clear when Gosling tested the brew after bottling and discovered the yeast could still "kick on" under the right conditions and temperature, generating more gas than the bottles were designed to handle.

 "The problem is we have no control on what happens to the beer after it leaves out warehouse," Gosling said.

"Someone could sling a carton in the back of the car, it sits there at 30 degrees for a day or two and then… kaboom. We've got potential hand grenades."

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Heart-breakingly that meant all bottled stock had to be destroyed and none will ever be available to the public.

The good news however, is the beer itself, will still be available – safely on tap – at selected venues. It's the 14th edition of the brewery's single batch series, and the result of a trans-Tasman challenge from New Zealand brewers Emerson's.

There's been a lot of variations on the saison style of late, but the Little Creatures offering eschews all that.

"Although the [saison] style permits much creativity and new regional and indigenous influences are intentionally being established, the nature of this challenge lies in the core virtue of this style: practical beers made for simple enjoyment," Gosling said.

"So this is not about creating some wacky, new-fangled, eco-regional beer; but a simple beer that is not doctored to disguise the unforgiving nature of the style."

Tasting notes credit the beer with an IBU of 30, ABV at 6.5 per cent with "grassy herbs, slightly funky Belgian yeast and pale bready malts on the nose and a taste "very refreshing with bready Belgian yeasts, a little earthy/spicy and refined hop characters."

And in what is clearly a masterpiece of understatement, it's also listed as "lively carbonated".

Locations to try the saison will be available on the Little Creatures website.

http://www.goodfood.com.au/good-food/drink/its-the-season-for-saison-beer-20141008-10ptfj.html