It’s been a while since I’ve written. Time flies when you are having fun I suppose. Time certainly flies when you are the sole employee of your own company. El Presidente, Head Honcho, Secretary, Marketing Dept., Brewer, Label Co-Designer, TTB correspondent, Distributor Liason, master of emails, T-shirt designer, amongst other titles. Well, that’s not entirely true. I have a lot of support from my very underpaid little sister (who is concurrently in graduate school for Mathematics), the real graphic design artist, and I am commissioning another Arkansas native artist (more on this later) for work on an upcoming series of beers about which I am very excited to introduce. That is, I am brewing saisons again, and intend to do so on the regular.
So, what is a Saison? Belgian? But it’s certainly a French word… Well, both are true. The Saison style began in the largely French speaking Wallonia region of Belgium. These beers come from humble roots. Brewed for farm laborers, this originally low alcohol beer was brewed in the winter and conditioned through the summer to provide the farm hands with a form of hydration that wouldn’t get them sick (as water could be suspect in the 19th century). Most brews were open fermented, literally in the barns of farmhouses, earning them the name “farmhouse beers.” Each farm had a different brewing technique, ingredients, and microflora, giving them all unique characteristics. The style nearly died out with the rise in popularity of lagers. Thankfully it didn’t. Generally speaking, Saison yeast strains produce highly complex, spicy (as in peppery) phenols and esters in a very dry beer base. They are my personal favorite brewing strain to work with. These complex flavors lend themselves well to experimentation with various fruits and hops. I’ve put mangoes and habaneros, crushed black pepper and locally grown hops, locally grown pluots from Dunbar Community Garden, oak chips and New Zealand hops, experimental (unnamed) hops, and even cofermented a batch with a Kombucha SCOBY from Loblolly Creamery. Suffice it to say, I love this style of beer. I brewed the first commercially available saison in Arkansas, and I am bringing them back, baby!
For my wedding, I went back to the little brewery I started on, Vino’s Brewpub, and brewed a strong (8% ABV) saison with American hops and am currently aging a portion of this in French Chardonnay barrels.
The unoaked portion is still available for pints at Vino’s, although at the time of writing, they had put on their last keg of “Katchiri’s Bier.” My fiance is Belgian. I’m American. Why not combine all that into a beer, so I brewed a Belgian Saison hopped exclusively and assertively with American floral, citrusy, berry-esque hops. Brewed exclusively by yours truly, I will be hand bottling the barrel aged version next month for my wedding in May. If this works out well, we may do a larger batch in the future.
Not done with that beer style yet, I decided to brew another Saison in a completely different style at the new brewpub I’m helping to open with Damgoode Pies in the Rivermarket. In fact, the very first brew on the old/new system was a new Moody Brews creation, “Aria’s Bier,” a petite saison (4.25% alcohol) brewed with lots of orange peel and hibiscus flowers. Part of the fun in brewing that beer was that Aria was with me in the brewery that day, so all four of us guys were taking turns making sure she was attended to.
Aria’s Bier is pink and on tap now at the Damgoode Pies Rivermarket location. We steeped a bag full of orange peels and hibiscus flowers to sanitize them before hanging them in the fermenter.
So there it is. Two more Moody Brews, the Damgoode location being the fourth brewery at which I’ve brewed, and the “home base” for my company. I will be making recipes for Damgoode labelled beers, three of which are fermenting now, and as space and time permits, will get to make small batches of Moody Brews there as well.
Some days I feel I have bitten off more than I can chew; other days, I think the business isn’t growing as fast as I’d like it to. It all depends on perspective, and I’m still only 6 months in. I don’t have thousands following me on social media, but does that matter? I don’t know. When I am at home with Aria, I have to admit I can get wrapped up in the social media game. Should I advertise on these platforms more? Should I add more to the advertising budget, which by the way, mainly consists of donating beer for events. Should I start making more gateway beer? When will I start to reap the rewards of this venture and allow my fiance to work less? I’ve found the best therapy for me is to keep making beer. It’s my yoga, or if you prefer, my church. You go in to a brew day with a plan, but you have to be constantly aware of where you are in the process, where you will be in the next step, and a multitude of other items to deal with on the fly. It’s where I stop worrying, oddly enough.
I want to thank you for reading this. I want to thank Katchiri who is attending to a teething Aria as I type, to allow me to type.
Josiah H. Moody
Crafter of Beer, Worker in Progress.