I may not be a great beer formulator, but when it comes to flavor combinations, I’m no slouch. In fact, it was my ability to cook and create on a culinary level that earned me my very first television exposure (Food Network, KGTV News) and writing gigs (North County Times, La Jolla Light, Pomerado News Group). So, when Devon Randall, the head brewer at Pizza Port’s Solana Beach brewpub, agreed to participate in my Beer to the Rescue charity campaign benefiting the Lupus Foundation of Southern California, and asked me what I’d like to brew, I brought something to the table by suggesting an interesting array of flavor enhancing ingredients.
Randall said she was “feeling saison.” This farmhouse ale of Belgian origin is one of my favorite styles of beer, primarily because its parameters are broad enough that it presents a nice base for experimentation. Typically fruity, spicy, and effervescent as a result of the type of yeast used to ferment them, saisons are refreshing by nature and have a lot to offer, but I wanted to create something different and interesting enough to reward those coming out to support the charity. So, I suggested taking this European style in an Far East direction by adding traditionally Asian ingredients to the mix. The result is Pizza Port Saisian Persuasion, which debuted earlier this week.
The beer’s quartet of non-traditional produce, herbs, and spices consists of yuzu, an extremely tart and slightly bitter breed of lemon hailing from Eastern Asia, lemongrass, fresh ginger, and green peppercorns. The lemongrass supports the citrus notes from the yuzu and similarly flavored esters from the Belgian yeast while the ginger provides a bitter counterpoint to keep things from getting too tangy. The peppercorns contrast with the fruit in a similar manner, but here’s something you probably didn’t know: the skins of green peppercorns have an aroma and flavor that is very hoppy in nature and ended up syncing nicely with the Styrian Golding and Sorachi Ace (a Japanese hop cultivar with dill-like character) Randall selected for the brew. The beer is very fruity and refreshing with subdued spice in its finish. It’d be a go-to for sushi, noodles, or yakitori, but I can say from personal experience that it’s damn good with pizza and beer buddies, too.