Brew By Numbers. What does that mean to you? Well, to some it’s similar to painting by numbers, which we will now call drinking by numbers, only you have complete freedom over which numbers you choose, and all you have to do is match each one to the most suitable glass and enjoy.
For now, we have five beers and two glasses. The beers are all Saisons, 750ml of course, and the glasses are Brew By Numbers own.
To make it nice and easy we’ll start from the beginning, and work up a little as we go along.
01|01 Saison Citra.
I first came across this beer around 12 months ago and it was the first Saison that made me think ‘wow, these Saisons are alright’. Call it a Saison epiphany if you will. It continues to blow my mind every time I drink it. You’ve probably seen the hashtag beergasm, well, this is it for me. Spicetastic, funktastic, citratastic and full to the brim with the Number’s Magic.
This beer alone is the reason why I have chosen to do this with 750ml bottles. Don’t get me wrong, the 330ml is good, but that extra volume takes it to another level. The depth and intensity of flavour are unparalleled, and it starts with that aroma.
It hits you, and you know you’re in for a treat. It’s classic Saison, with that funky spiciness coming from the yeast, but the hop pushes it forward. The fruity funk delivery from the Citra completes the meet and greet, so you’d best taste it.
The spices used are really evident as you delve in, but there is a light maltiness there too. Coupled to the yeast, this really does make for a satisfying drink. And that hop, it just doesn’t go away. With it’s relentless funky fruits hammering away at your taste buds, you’ll wonder why this doesn’t come in a bigger bottle. I could quite happily take a magnum of this stuff. Actually, no. Make that a Jeroboam.
And that dry finish it leaves behind? Well that’s your invitation to get stuck in with the next.
01|02 Saison Amarillo & Orange.
The aroma, again, starts with the typical saison funk, but this time with a fistful of orange. The taste is bittersweet orange, with the saison spice just creeping in along with a nice dose of bready malt.
It’s surprisingly quite smooth too, and doesn’t have the coarse carbonation of some Saisons. That smoothness makes is very satisfying and so wholesome; it feels full bodied but it’s quite light at the same time.
The finish is a mix of bread and cereal malts, and a light orange pithy bitterness. It’s not too dry and some bananary notes also linger. If you’ve started this off straight from the fridge, this beer benefits from being allowed to warm slightly, which really opens the beer up to release all those flavours.
01|09 Saison Hibiscus & Chamomile.
Ever had a cup of chamomile tea followed by an Hibiscus Prosecco cocktail chaser? No? Ever thought of mixing them? Thought not. But if you did, you’d probably end up with something like this.
The funky Saison yeast hits you first, but it soon fades and is followed by the sweet fruity smell of the hibiscus and a dusting of orange. The chamomile completes the breath and offers an almost savoury end prior to the tasting.
It’s similar to Prosecco, just much smoother, in the way that it’s dry and has a certain grape like character to it; The back of your mouth thinks it’s having a glass of the stuff.
The dryness is also like chamomile tea. It is exactly like the aforementioned mix would be on paper, although I doubt in practise it would be as successful. The dryness extends and the finish builds for some time after. It almost has an evolving woody note to it’s end, and it’s complexity will have you chewing your cheeks and lips to fully fathom it. It’s definitely wood, or is it? Could it be the chamomile? It’s tricky to pinpoint, but it’s very intriguing nonetheless.
01|16 Saison Rakau.
With a leisurely rush of bready malts, followed by a dash of funky yeast and the lightest of spice, this begins in a much more delicate way than the other beers here. All the flavours are there but they’re chilled right out as they glance across your palate. The beer is wholesome, and there’s a slightly sour kiwi fruit making it’s way along your tongue. It leaves behind more of the earlier bread delivery, but contained within the sandwich is a splattering of grapes.
The trail acts as a guide for the next mouthful, which after gaining a little warmth, becomes all the more exciting. There’s more of everything; more funk, more spice, more sour kiwis rolling around your mouth, and more slices of malt too. It’s still incredibly delicate, but if you allow it, you will become immersed in it. Add a shade more warmth, and that bread becomes a freshly baked sourdough loaf. Glorious.
01|17 Saison Enigma & Nelson.
Think Saison, think white wine, think savoury. Throw in some fruits and you’re close, but not that close. There’s a good load of malt in there too. Swill it, wake it up, and allow its aroma to unleash itself on your senses. Peer through the faint banana and get yourself involved with the spice. It’s got a kick, but you arrive at it in a more leisurely way than a hot curry. Taste it; Cloves like a Kretek, and shouldn’t be rushed like one can’t either.
Reminiscent of white wine, but you soon realise you have something far, far better. There’s an increase in depth that you just don’t get with your favourite Sauvignon, but it’s hard to remember that this is actually a beer. It has exactly the same dry finish as the wine, but with the added extras that keep your senses alive and brain ticking. And you ask yourself, again, is this actually a beer? You answer; it is. It’s fantastically dry, grapey, funky, spicy, murky; and an immensely satisfying offering.
For months I’ve been buying Saisons, all the Saisons in fact. But none of them satisfy me in the way that those from The Numbers do. I don’t know what it is exactly that makes them suit my taste, but it’s been a struggle to find anything else that comes close. And after you’ve made your way through all the Saisons above, you’ll see exactly what I mean and you’ll be on the hunt for the rest. And if you see a 750ml bottle, make it yours.