So I finally got around to visiting the sparkly new brewery and tap room at Darling Brew last weekend (more on that soon). The timing turned out to be perfect as the had just released a brand new beer. Blood Serpent is a 5% ABV dry-hopped lager and apparently Africa’s first carbon-neutral beer. Darling’s brand has strong links to environmental causes, so it makes sense that they would bring out such a beer. So what does it mean? Is the brewing liquor (that’s water to you and me) heated naturally by the sun? Do tree-hugging hippies suck on ice cubes and then blow on the fermenters to keep them cool? Well no, nothing quite that entertaining. What it means is that, following a kind of environmental audit to determine what the carbon footprint of brewing a batch of beer is, Darling Brewery have offset the carbon emissions by donating to the Kariba REDD+ project in Zimbabwe.
So you know that drinking Blood Serpent is good for the environment, which is reason enough to buy a bottle, but what does it taste like? Aroma-wise it delivers a dose of tangerine, a hint of a festive spice and a whole lot of grass. I would have loved a bit more fresh-cut-grass but what I picked up was cut-a-couple-of-days-ago-and-still-in-a-heap kind of grass. It’s as crisp and easy-to-drink as a pale lager should be, but packs plenty of flavour, largely in the citrus department. Not fresh, just-been-peeled citrus so much as stewed-for-a-pie kind of citrus (is there such a thing as citrus pie?) and I kept wanting to call it Blood Orange rather than Blood Serpent.
Earlier in the year I wrote about South African brewers putting out something along the IPL lines – something light and easy-to-drink but with plenty of flavour and Blood Serpent is heading in the right direction. I found the grassiness – aroma and flavour – a little too much, which is a pitfall of aggressive dry-hopping. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the beer and have to say it might be my favourite of the many new releases that Darling have brought out this year.