I was reading Boak and Bailey’s article Saison cracked? the other day and couldn’t believe where they’d put De Ranke’s XX Bitter on their wild / clean graph. I couldn’t remember it having any wild character, but it’s been a while since I’d had any, so I couldn’t actually remember. I’d recently had their Saison De Dottignies, which had loads and loads of wild character, so I thought that maybe they’d got the two beers confused.
When I was in the Bacchanalia yesterday, I decided to pick up a bottle of XX Bitter to remind myself what it tasted like and to see if it did actually have any wild character. It went in the fridge the moment I got home and stayed there for about three hours or so, until I was ready to drink it. Armed with a glass and bar blade I cracked the bottle open, only for the contents to do an impressive impersonation of a fountain.
By the time I managed to get the glass anywhere near the bottle, about half the contents had deposited themselves on the worktop. When I went to pour the remaining bottle contents into the glass, it foamed ridiculously and I had to leave it for ages to settle before I could get what remained in to it. I did manage to get a taste though and I think they were right, XX Bitter does have some wildness about it. Not as much as the Saison De Dottignies, but it’s there, at the back, as a platform for the rest of the beer to sit on.
For obvious reasons, I’m going to have to get another bottle or two so I can properly contemplate what’s going on. I could maybe even do a similar experiment to The Orval Project that I’m doing and see how the wildness changes over time.