As long term readers of The Crafty Pint will know, we try and keep things as light and breezy as we can. Where possible, we avoid getting too technical or nerdy (although there are those that argue the very fact it is a site about craft beer means it instantly qualifies as beer nerdy…) and look to create a site that creates excitement about the burgeoning craft beer world in a way that won’t turn off newcomers to better beer. If we sometimes get the daft nonsense to actual description ratio completely out of whack in our beer listings, so what? If it makes you chuckle and tells you a beer is out while leaving you none the wiser as to what the beer is, then we’re happy.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with a little knowledge to help drinkers understand a little more about the beers they are drinking, where they come from, why they taste like they do and so on. So today we’re kicking off a regular series of features looking at beer styles of the world. It’s an idea pitched by Crafty contributor Chris Brady (pictured above while being interviewed for this short film), a home-brewing Brit who’s been living in Australia half his life.
The series kicks off with a look at the Saison style, tying in nicely with the next Crafty Pint Blind Tasting Panel, which will be sampling various Aussie and international versions this Friday. You can find Chris' piece here, but first we thought we’d find out a little about him and why he’s the man for the job (other than the fact he’s willing to do it for peanuts and an occasional hug…)
What is your relationship with beer?
Being English and a bit of a dork, I strongly feel that the brewing and drinking of beer is an intrinsic part of our cultural heritage. After a misspent youth of thoughtless swilling, the work of those beardy curmudgeons at CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) eventually swayed me from the cheap and nasty lagers of my youth and I became fascinated with the wonderful world of English ale. Later on I began to discover, through esteemed beer writers such as Roger Protz, that the wider world was a beer drinker’s paradise filled with often exquisite ales and lagers.
Just by virtue of being human we all have an indelible relationship with beer as it is inextricably entwined with our prehistoric selves, when we made the leap from nomadic hunter-gatherer to sedentary farmer. Beer and brewing played a significant role in the development of early cultures from Ancient Egypt to Anglo Saxon England and beyond. Beer and brewing, despite what the fun police would have you believe, were part of what civilised us and coalesced our ancient, nomadic tribal existence into the rich cultural milieu that we are now so fortunate to have.
Then there is the magic of brewing, from early humans partaking of serendipitous, spontaneous fermentations to what we have now: a blend of science and artistry as brewers work with a living microscopic organism to turn a sweet, palatable infusion of hops and malted grains into a delicious drink with a breadth of flavours found in no other. Good brewing is surely the closest thing we have to alchemy. And I love it! (This may make me sound like an earnest twat but i stand by every word.)
How long you been brewing for?
I have been dabbling with home brewing for around six or seven years, making the usual progression from kit to extract and finally to all grain. I have been playing around with all grain brews for the last year or so.
What’s your writing background?
Dabbled in online music journalism for a bit before studying Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT down in Carlton. Kids have curtailed my output since, however dear Crafty is a gentle task master. Absorbed as I am in beery thoughts I hope to continue to get stuff out of my head and onto the site.
Why did you pitch this series?
I thought Crafty could do with some history of beer and brewing, specifically stylistic info for the interested but uninitiated.
I don’t claim to be an authority on the subject and my only qualification is a genuine all-consuming passion for the subject. I just enjoy reading and researching this kind of thing. It’s fascinating and I want to share it but most of my friends' eyes glaze over when I wax lyrical on beer and brewing so I thought the Crafty readership might be more interested.
If you were a beer you would be…
A modern twist on an English IPA with some New World late hopping.
Lurking within my forward-thinking self is a grumpy old bugger. Besides, this beer is one that most Australian beer heads would get along with. Like me I hope. Or maybe I’m more of an acquired taste. A sour faced lambic perhaps?
Check out Chris' feature on saisons here.