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From approachable to adventurous, Didsbury bar Saison ticks all the beer boxes

FANCY a light, refreshing draught Warsteiner or a complex 10 per cent plus barley wine it’s a challenge to pronounce, let alone tackle – Hvedegoop Mikkeller/Three Floyds? You takes your choice. Saison ticks all the beer boxes. 

This two-year-old neighbourhood bar at the heart of West Didsbury’s Burton Road offers approachable tipples in a home from home environment, yet there are also rare beer discoveries to have geekiest of hop hunters salivating madly.

Take that Hvedegoop. It’s a collaboration between Mikkeller, the famous gypsy brewer of Copenhagen and Three Floyds Brewing of Munster, Indiana. Hvede is Danish for wheat and it’s apparently brewed in a mad scientist way in a series of high gravity ‘goops’, None the wiser? Us neither, but it is a spicy, raisiny, toffeeish, hoppy winter warmer. 
OK, it doesn’t come cheap but the Warsteiner is just £4.10 a pint and the weaker Kaltenberg is just £3.80 a pint. 

2017 11 15 Tom Otoole

To the more adventurous we’d recommend scanning the board above the bar for the latest craft arrivals and asking manager Tom O’Toole and his knowledgeable staff for a sample. On our last visit, when asked for something pale and refreshing, they guided us to Burning Sky Petite Saison (£4.75), a Sussex brewer’s take on a Belgian farmhouse ale, aged in white wine barrels and dry hopped. Just 3.5%, delicate and delicious.

It seemed appropriate to be drinking it in a bar named Saison, sister outlet to Chorlton’s Dulcimer, the erstwhile ‘folk bar’, where we can’t recall ever having heard that particular instrument played. Having just celebrated its 10th birthday, the current music offering in the upstairs performance space is more eclectic and still exciting. The emphasis is less on food at Dulcimer, though the stone-bake thin crust pizzas make perfect partners to an inevitably strong beer selection.

At Saison chill cabinets featuring fine bottles from Belgium and the USA supplement the 16 keg lines and four cask pumps, providing predominantly British beers – where among more familiar labels you might stumble upon more leftfield ‘projects’ such as Little Earth, a Suffolk brewery specialising in historic, farmhouse and sour beers, or Cornwall’s Verdant Brewing Co, whose bold, hoppy beers earned them ‘Best UK Newcomer 2017’ from influential US website RateBeer.

These are the kind of food-friendly beer options just made to accompany Saison’s autumn small plates – the attractive likes of coffee seared flat iron steak, chilli and chocolate jus and beetroot puree or their trio of cheese and IPA rarebit with smoked tomato/red onion chutney and watercress. 

Lovely tippled on their own, too. It’s the Saison to be jolly.

Saison, 236 Burton Road, West Didsbury, M20 2LW. 0161 4349521.; Dulcimer, 567 Wilbraham Road, Chorlton, M21 0AE. 0161 860 6444.

2017 11 15 Saison Exterior