Well, it’s almost the end of 2015 so we thought we’d see it off with another limited edition. This time it’s a long anticipated reboot of our craft Snakebite and Black brewed in collaboration with Thistly Cross Cider.
For the uninitiated, a “Snakebite” is simply when you mix equal parts cider and lager; in the United Kingdom, it’s often has a dash of blackcurrant cordial added which is known as a “Snakebite and Black”. Two years ago in 2013, Gavin and Peter Stuart from Thistly Cross had the mad idea of producing the UK’s first “commercial” Snakebite and Black by combining our beer with their cider and a few bucket loads of blackcurrants. The resulting beer cider hybrid was rather popular and is still one of the collaborations we hear about even now. With all the beers we’ve been re-brewing recently, Peter suggested we revamp the old Snakebite recipe for 2015 and so Saison Cider was born.
For this revamp, we’ve used Saison yeast – a firm favourite with the brewers this year after the successes of Harvest IPA and Saison du Pommes – to add an entirely new flavour profile. We also took a different approach to brewing the beer, and have essentially triple fermented it. In other words, we brewed the Saison and fermented out the sugars as we normally would, then blended Thistly Cross’ fresh, sweet cider into the tank and allowed that to ferment out, and finally added the blackcurrants and allowed the yeast to ferment all the sugars from those too. It took a while, but the results are completely worth it.
The combination of the change in yeast and unique process has created something completely different to the last iteration of Snakebite and Black, hence why it’s now called Saison Cider. Pouring into a glass, it’s quite something to behold; a bright, ruby red beer with enough carbonation to produce a lovely, pink foamy head…makes you pretty thirsty!
On the nose, you get a lot of berry like aromas, and an earthy spiciness from the Saison yeast. On the palate…you might find yourself needing some time to step back and think about what you just tasted. The triple fermentation process gives the beer a bone dry quality, and an intense, earthy tartness that comes close in comparison to a sour beer. The yeast also lends a pepperiness that complements the big blackcurrant flavours that come from the beer being 10% blackcurrants. To sum up: it’s fresh, intense, tart, fruity, and dry; a real craft Snakebite taken to a whole new level.
The team here at the brewery get along really well with the team up in Dunbar at Thistly Cross, carrying on the years long friendship of Gavin and Peter. Both Tempest and Thistly were completely different two years ago when Snakebite and Black came out originally, this revamp has involved new people collaborating on everything from deciding on the label designed by our good friend, Zuzana Gibb, to brewing to anything in between showing how much everything has changed since 2013. It’s been a landmark year for both companies in different areas; for us it’s been our move over to Tweedbank and all the new opportunities that has given us.
Revisiting an old, much anticipated collaboration born from a long running friendship and giving it a new twist using all our new people and equipment is the perfect beer based metaphor for the progress Tempest and Thistly have seen over the last couple years.
Saison Cider is available to buy on our online store now, and will be in various bottle shops and bars across the country.