Normally, when we announce a new beer we take a nicely staged photograph (it’s true, the beer does not pour itself on our quaint stone wall looking out onto the pasture). However when I drove up to Marble Valley Farm to give Megan a couple of bottles of the beer we collaborated on; the juxtaposition between our approach to incorporating herbs and spices in beer and our (probably just “the”) approach to farming was in such perfect harmony that I literally ran to my car for a camera and had to capture the moment. And then we just started to have some fun with it.
The way we see it, when herbs and spices are used in a beer it must be done with subtleness and balance because of their nature to overpower and impart such strong character. We want you to recognize that there are deeper elements to the flavors and sensations brought about by a sip of an herb or spiced beer, but not immediately be able to identify or be overwhelmed by an individual flavor. To do so, we introduce the herbs in delicate increments until we find a balance and character that we are happy it. Farming on the other hand, is something you cannot dance around. If you want the potatoes, you have to dig up the dirt to get them. If you want to sell eggs at the farmers market, you better be prepared to go in the coop and reach into each nesting box. There’s really no other way to do it.
This first batch of Gardeners Tale is a modest adaptation of the Mint Saison which we recently released in very small. Way back when we were first starting to brew six months ago we sat down with Megan and talked about some different ideas for herbs to incorporate into our brewing. Among them, mint became one of the most fascinating. One of the largest plant families around, the options seemed endless. So we picked a few fancy varieties and Megan got started on growing them. A few months later we spent an afternoon in her greenhouse making tinctures by blending different varieties of mint and other herbs into our tart saison base beer. Among the crowd, the chocolate and orange mint stood out as the clear cut winners. So we made our plan to grow and harvest enough to make a few small batches of our beer.
And we could not be happier with the end result. The tart character of the beer and the cooling sensation of the mint meld together to create a subtle and almost confusingly pleasant drinking experiences not sour and not overpoweringly minty. Just refreshing.
So do like us farmers and brewers, and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty in some well thought out project this weekend.
Here’s the shops where you will be able to find bottles of Gardeners Tale this weekend.
Amity Wine & Spirit Co., New Haven
Ancona’s Wine & Liquors, Ridgefield
BevMax, New Milford
Bottle Stop, Newtown
Bottle Stop, Torrington
Carluzzi’s Nutmeg Discount Liquor, Bethel
County Wine and Spirits, New Preston
Craft Beer Cellar, West Hartford
CT Beverage Mart, Wallingford
Greenwich Wine & Spirit, Greenwich
Harry’s Wine and Liquor, Fairfield
Harvest Country Store, West Hartford
Harvest Wine and Spirit, West Hartford
Kent Wine & Spirit, Kent
M & R Liquors, Farmington
M & R Liquors, Glastonbury
M & R Liquors, South Windsor
Maximum Beverage, West Hartford
Nejaimes Wine & Spirit, Watertown
New Milford Spirit Shoppe, New Milford
Putnam Plaza Super Liquors, East Hartford
The Wise Old Dog, West Hartford
Warehouse Wine and Liquors, Southbury