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Big Drop Brewing Co. Going Swimmingly Hibiscus Saison

"Brewed with hibiscus flowers and a blend of botanicals, this has a hint of tartness balanced with spicy notes. Sweet and sour from the hibiscus and a light fruity, spicy backing from the pepper and juniper." - Big Drop Brewing Co.

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A summer drink with a difference

Brewed in collaboration with the Harbour Brewing Company in North Cornwall, this unusual brew is definitely worth a try. The wonderful pinky, coppery colour holds a delicate Hibiscus taste with a dry feel. I think I was expecting something along the lines of a pressé, but this is most definitely still a beer. Personally, a tad more body would have helped confirm this, but as a summer drink with a difference, this is very refreshing.

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Not the Season for a Saison

Now, I should come clean and state that I'm not a regular saison drinker, so perhaps not particularly well placed to review this, at least in comparison to other similar beers. And that also, it's December, so perhaps not the right time of year to be drinking and then reviewing a beer which is generally thought of as a summer drink. However, neither of these reasons will prevent me from making a few notes about this unusual brew.

Like a lot of saisons (so I read) this is highly carbonated, and when poured sounds pretty fizzy creating a reasonable head (which soon disappeared in my case). It has an unusual aroma - definitely that of beer, but because of the additional ingredients of hibiscus, juniper and pink peppercorns it has a floral hint. It's not unpleasant, but also doesn't make this drink immediately inviting. You're not quite sure what you're going to get.

So, what do you get? Well, it's crystal clear in the glass. Whatever filtration they're using as part of the brewing process seems to be working a treat, so it's attractive. The mouthfeel is, er, fine. I've tried quite a few NABs now and I can't quite put my finger on the difference, but for some reason the absence of alcohol makes many non-alcoholic beers feel a bit flimsy. I can't really explain it any better than that - I just get the feeling that it's not quite all there.

Flavours are floral. Which is not unusual for a saison. The last one I tried include elderflower, which I guess is more commonly used in drinks than hibuscus (although hibiscus herbal tea is fairly common). I expect that if you're not a herbal tea drinker, or generally a fan or floral flavours in food and drink you may well find this a step too far. It's quite bitter too, which is fine, but I think as a result of the juniper and peppercorns it leaves a slightly odd aftertaste, a peppery-bitterness which lingers.

I want to be fair to this beer. So I promise I'll try it again ice cold and on a hot day in the summer, perhaps in a field somewhere surrounded by the sound of grasshoppers and enjoying an expansive view of the countryside. I'm certain that given the right circumstances I would enjoy this more on a different occasion.

But saisons aren't for everyone. They're an acquired taste, with the addition of floral ingredients and spices. If you find one you like then enjoy it. If not, there are plenty of other options which you'd be wise to choose from, including many other excellent beers from Big Drop Brewing Co. so if you sample this and don't enjoy it, don't let it put you off the rest of their range!

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Reviewed: 26/12/2019 • Permalink

Not for me

I don't like beer but tried this as it looked interesting. Tasted like dilute beer and I didn't like the aftertaste.

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Reviewed: 07/12/2019 • Permalink

Drinkable, but...

Slightly tangy flavoured soda water. Drinkable but I probably wouldn't choose and buy it again.

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Reviewed: 07/12/2019 • Permalink

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