It’s definitely that time of year. It’s crazy out there. People are in the thick of last minute holiday shopping and the roads are packed with people. It’s also cold outside. All this makes it feel pretty nice to just stay inside, relax in the warmth, and have a good beer.
Today we have a beer from Budapest, Hungary. I’ve never had the opportunity to visit Budapest, one of the few places I missed out on, so I’m excited to give this beer a try. The beer comes to us from Monyo Brewing Company and it’s a Black Saison called Black Alligator.
Monyo Brewing Company was founded in 2014 by Pein Adam, Antal Nemeth, and Zoltan Elek. The entire process of founding the brewery from scratch occurred over the course of less that one year. Quite impressive. Adam was frustrated with his local pub. They tried to serve good quality craft beer to its patrons, but the quality wasn’t very consistent. So, he decided to open a brewery and solve the problem he saw.
Using the most modern equipment and keeping the brewery at the highest possible cleanliness, Monyo brews good beer. They use the best ingredients they can find and have consistently produced high quality beers winning themselves Brewery of the Year in 2015. Brewing both standard beers as well as experimental ones, they like to try new things and play with different ingredients. They believe that hard work, technology, cleanliness, quality, and professional knowledge result in good beer.
Saison’s are a sturdy farmhouse style of beer. Originally brewed in Wallonia, the French speaking part of Belgium, it was a beer brewed at the end of the cool season to last through the warmer months before refrigeration was common. It had to be sturdy enough to be able to last but also not too strong so it would quench your thirst in the summer months. This style of beer is very complex with a lot fruit notes, spices, and earth yeast notes to the beer. They tend to combine nice fruity notes with spice and a subtle sourness or tartness. Usually lots of spice with mild bitterness and a dry crisp finish and only a hint of sweetness.
At one point in time Saison’s were an almost extinct beer style but they have seen a great resurgence and are commonly brewed by several craft breweries across Canada. Black Saisons are essentially brewed in a similar fashion as a typical saison but using darker malt varieties to give it bit more malt character and a darker colour. This particular one uses both Juniper Berries as well as Alligator peppers along with the malt, hops, and three kinds of yeast. Seeing how these flavours work together will be interesting, on to it.
Appearance – Pours black with a red hue and a good 3” head that fades quickly.
Smell – Smells of roasted malt, peppery spice, biscuit, caramel and juniper berries.
Taste – Sweet flavor with peppery spice, juniper berries, black licorice, dark fruit and some of that candied sugar coming through. Finish is sweet candied sugar and alcohol warmth.
Mouth feel – Medium body with a slightly oily mouthfeel and good carbonation. Finish is dry with alcohol warmth.
Overall – There are certainly some subtle components of a saison in this beer. Still, it comes across more like a Belgian strong ale. Certainly it could be called saisonish.
Do I like it? – For a saison, this is lacking the crisp refreshing fruit flavours I look for. If you look at this like a Belgian tripel or another Belgian strong ale, it comes across quite nicely. There is a lot going on in this beer and I quite enjoyed the combination of the juniper berries and alligator peppers.