I don`t think that too many tickers bother much with the kegged stuff (goes flat in their panda pop takeaways!) but us beergeeks find them tough to resist sometimes, especially when they are rarer than a Michael Gove fan at a teachers` conference. This time, side-by-side at Abbeydale`s own Broadfield Ale House, were experimental efforts by Red Willow of Macclesfield and Wild Beer of Shepton Mallet. Whilst Wild have become become a regular feature at The Broady, the past couple of months have seen brews by the Macc lads popping up in some of the better pubs in the Steel City so we are faced with another Premier League quality North / South keg clash.
We are divided on the saison. This European beer style has its roots in quenching the thirst of agricultural workers. They can vary in strength but they are usually pretty fruity, cloudy and sometimes have spices added. (Danny like, Mike no like!)
Bliss boasts Brettanomyces yeast, roast apricots and `secret spices` all at 6%. Plenty of aromatic taste here but looks a little too much like a murky mulled wine, or at least there is a prominent hit of Christmas spices and topped off with a layer of icing, sorry, a little creamy head.
Faithless is a richer, more appealing, colour with an almost peachy gold shine at 4.9%. The aroma you meet is spice and fruit but the initial taste is tart and then sour, so a real mix of saison and gooseberry here, that amazingly balances rather nicely. Like Bliss, Faithless XXV has a fairly prominent carbonation but it seems to help this one culminating in a refreshing drop of ale. However, I would be curious to see how the complex flavours in the Wild beer would develop in the cask; oaky spiced apricots mighty just work.
Hats off again to The Broadfield for presenting two memorable ales. Keep the faith!
Wild - Bliss 6 / 10 (Mike) , 8.5 / 10 (Danny)
RedWillow - Faithless XXV 7.5 / 10 (Mike) , 8.5 / 10 (Danny)