December 22nd, 2011 by Crafty Pint
It’s amazing how fast word spreads when a new beer appears, especially when it appears unheralded as if from nowhere. It doesn’t hurt when the beer is of such quality that it impresses all who taste it, leading some to suggest instantly it could be the best of its style in Australia. So it was that a couple of weeks ago, every other person involved in the Melbourne beer scene who spoke to The Crafty Pint – no matter the real reason for the conversation – would end up asking: “Have you heard about this new saison?”
The beer in question comes from a Melbourne-based brewing collective called La Sirène, who operate for now gypsy style, hiring out the brewing facilities at Jamieson on Lake Eildon. It’s the brainchild of Costa, a brewing consultant who shares a love for French farmhouse beers with his media shy, microbiologist partner-in-beer James, and has been in development for more than two years.
“It’s done purely for passion,” he says. “I love these styles of beer and love to make them. We’ll stick with these styles and perhaps release three different beers over the next five years; we want to become masters of them and nail down stylistically what we want to do.”
Costa believes the key to the beer is an ancient yeast hunted down on a trip to Europe. After a series of happy coincidences, they ended up at a tiny village brewery making a saison to an old family recipe. It featured a yeast that dates back at least 400 years, according to Costa, which they brought back to Australia, where it is kept cryogenically frozen at James' place of work.
After months of development and trial batches, they still ditched the first four full length brews before declaring themselves happy with the one that’s on shelves now. Their satisfaction is with good reason too, with the first La Sirène beer a pleasure from the moment it hits the glass to when it’s lingering in the mouth. A cloudy golden pour with the fullest and lightest of foamy heads, there’s plenty going on, from big citrus and orange blossom aromas underpinned by a touch of funk, to the sweet, honey like malt flavours, a touch of tartness and a refreshingly dry finish in the mouth.
As for the name and exquisite label designed by an American artist, they reference the sirens of mythology.
“The sirens used to draw in boats because of their beauty,” says Costa. “We hope the beer’s beauty will draw in like-minded people.”
If you feel like being lured, it’s out now in 375ml and 750ml heavy duty wine bottles imported from France. You’ll find it at venues such as Cookie, Black Pearl, Gerald’s Bar, Bar Fred and Harvest Wine & Liquor.