For some reason I’m not aware of, I haven’t written anything about Hey Joe Brewing Company on the blog yet. After a few false starts and many months of anticipation, the brewery opened in Franschhoek in April. If you haven’t visited yet, put it on your summer to-do list. Hey Joe is what I would call a “full package” brewery, with great beer (my pick: the witbier) and excellent, well-priced food (order the chicken crackling, thank me later). It is kid-friendly, dog-friendly and extremely beer nerd-friendly: the building pretty much looks like a cathedral, where beer lovers come to worship the Belgian style brews and enviable equipment.
The Lavender Honey Saison is the first in Hey Joe’s Into the Wild range – named not because these are wild-fermented beers, but because brewer Anja van Zyl has a great passion for the great outdoors. The fact that they’re in cans is no coincidence – these are beers designed to be taken on hikes and carried on bikes, where a lightweight, unshatterable can trumps a bottle every time.
The beer is a brilliant shade of orange – the colour of an African sunset and beautiful to behold, though the lack of lingering head did let the appearance down a little (likely a result of oils from the addition of wild lavender – hand picked by Anja, no less).
When I first heard about this beer, I was a little dubious about the lavender – it’s such a potent flower and I didn’t quite fancy a pint that reminded me of scented drawer liners or my old piano teacher’s perfume. But the beer is balanced, with a complex aroma of ginger, lime and marmalade and only a muted floral note sitting in the background.
It’s a rounded, fairly full-bodied beer with an undeniable sweetness – a little too much sweetness for my palate though that’s not to say that others won’t enjoy. It’s definitely a food beer and I would recommend cheese: a sharp emmental, a creamy chevin, or if you have the time and inclination, whip up the dish that chef Clara Bubenzer paired with the Lavender Honey Saison at a recent Meet the Brewer at Beerhouse: a phyllo parcel filled with brie and topped with preserved figs, whose sweetness perfectly tamed the sweetness in the beer.
Hey Joe’s Lavender Honey Saison is limited edition, available at select outlets in Cape Town and the Winelands, and of course at Hey Joe’s wonderful taproom (seriously, go and book a visit).