Beer Of The Week: Little Valley’s Cherry Saison
‘It is the season of saisons,’ says Sue Cooper, delightedly, when I tell her that our beer of the week is Little Valley’s cheering cherry version of the Belgian-style drink.
I am returning most happily to the brewery based in Cragg Vale, whose splendid beers have already featured in these columns, to try something different, their acclaimed, highly popular summer drink. Saisons are well carbonated, fruity, spicy, pale ales, sometimes bottle conditioned - though this one isn’t - brewed for drinking in the hot summer months. This one with an ABV of 4.5 % is organic and vegan-friendly.
Who drinks it I ask. ‘It’s a good all rounder,’ says Sue, who along with partner Wim, the master brewer, has owned the firm since 2005. ‘It’s a saison with a twist which carries a very broad appeal.’
Half an hour after I have poured the beer, the bottle is still giving off the scent of cherry. It’s a beautiful drink, yes, ideal for summer, but I’d wager once you’ve got a taste for it you’ll want to return to it the year round. Bold and fruity, replete with cherries with just a hint of almonds, which Sue says comes from the malt, it is enormously refreshing - and available from the brewery via their online shop: www.littlevalleybrewery.co.uk
and all good Independent stores.
It certainly is not the sort of uniformly sweet and cloying drink that the more traditional beer drinker would baulk at. ‘It’s tangy and tart,’ Sue says, referring me to the bottle which describes it as going ‘one step beyond the traditional Belgian Saison’. The suggestion is to ‘look beyond the lager, swerve the cider and indulge in this rare and fruity’ beverage.
Personally speaking, I'm most happy to swerve the cider.
‘We’ve stepped up brewing,’ says Sue, looking forward to the pubs reopening soon, ‘and things are looking better. We’re very hopeful for the future but we know it will be challenging for everybody in the trade.’
I sniff the bottle again, appreciatively, notice the label says: ‘There’s a first time for everything’. That’s true: I’ve just had my first cherry saison. All I wish to add is that it won’t be my last and I can thoroughly recommend it.
In the words of Emma Bunton: what took you so long?