The Norwegian word for ‘to sit outside on a sunny day enjoying a beer’
It’s been heavily, heavingly hot weather recently and we’re in The Netherlands – like Belgium and Germany a nation of golden or bear-brown beer rather than one of wine.
So the drink of preference in this country in a steaming summer is a honey-coloured, ice cold beer. And the best we’ve yet found is the Brand Saison. It’s light, fruity and dry, a little tangy, with a very intriguing, nicely bitter aftertaste which the makers describe as ‘velvety’ and a reasonable amount (not too much) of froth, and also of body, and of carbonation.
Invented by the home brewer, Bart Engel, Brand Saison is a creative mix of summer malted spelt and traditional hops, fermented with yeast from Belgium where this type of beer, the saison, comes from originally. It deservedly won the Dutch brewery, Brand’s, competition in 2015. The brief for the competition was to produce a Belgian saison-style summer beer. The saison beer was originally a low-alcohol beer, brewed in winter, and given a longer life with some additional hops. Then it was drunk by farm workers who killed their thirst with it during the hot work of the harvest.
Serve Brand Saison beer cold, and appropriately in deference to its Dutch creator, in a tulip glass. According to a specialist US website, Craftbeer.com, saison beer pairs well with seafood (mussels), brie, and, somewhat randomly, lemon ginger sorbet. We thought it went well, as served at The Nymph hotel in Brielle, with crusty bread dipped in tomato tapenade and aïoli.
Our waiter summed me up, correctly, as an infrequent beer drinker. Incorrectly, he thought this inexperience would result in not liking the bitter aftertaste. He recommended the Brand Weizen, made by the same brewery. This is a mild, blond beer with a nice taste of vanilla but not much else to say for itself – although its softness might mean it pairs well with a curry.
But our vote was strongly for the beautiful Brand Saison. Best drunk in a heatwave.