First Draught: The Saints, a smoky beer for the single malt whisky set
By David Ort
Smoke in a glass (Image: David Ort)
Most whisky-themed beers pick up on the spirit’s more easy-drinking characteristics: soft spices, vanilla or a burnt sugar sweetness. The Saints from England’s St. Peter’s Brewery is a glaring exception to that rule.
While Innis and Gunn is a beer with a dash of whisky’s sophistication, The Saints will strike a chord with fans of Scotch whisky, particularly the peaty ones from Islay. On the nose, it has smoke and a touch of iodine, and those flavours are multiplied manyfold on the palate. There’s a rearguard of thin, cask-like carbonation and grainy malt notes, but this really is smoke in a glass.
I did say that fans of Scotch will enjoy The Saints (and they will), but the interesting twist is that the beer is a collaborative effort with Norfolk’s St. George’s Distillery, the first distillery in England to make single malt whisky in over a century. The malted grain is smoked over a peat fire — the same as for the whisky — and a measure of the spirit is added to the ale before it goes into the distinctive bottle, which looks like it came straight off a pharmacist’s shelf.
Be careful how you pair this one with food. Smoky drinks with smoky food can cancel out each other’s flavour, but you might strike gold with a dish that is just as comfortable with or without the smoking jacket, so to speak. Leg of lamb, strongly-flavoured sausages and broiled salmon would all top my list of candidates.
If you drink beer because whisky isn’t your thing, this selection probably isn’t for you. But if you’re a member of the red-nosed peat fan club, you’ll be happy to have another place to turn for a familiar nip.
St. Peter’s The Saints Whisky Beer, $4.95 for a 500 mL bottle, LCBO #296830
When David isn't busy drinking beer for his articles here, he writes about food and drink for Toronto's online publications including his own site, Food With Legs. For more of his thoughts on beer, and life in general, follow him on Twitter.