When a crop of tomatoes at Riverford Organic Farm failed to turn red last summer, the team half-jokingly offered the harvest to neighbouring Barnaby’s Brewhouse, wondering if the green tomatoes had any potential for use as the foundation of an exciting new beer.
Based on the Riverford Dairy farm in South Devon, Barnaby’s Brewhouse operates with an ecological approach and a passion for producing great craft beers as sustainably as possible. Here, renewable energy sources are used and all waste products are repurposed: spent grain is fed directly to the Riverford Farm dairy cattle, the brewery’s left-over hops are composted and used in the poly tunnels at the local Field Kitchen. Certified organic by the Soil Association – the UK’s leading organic certification body – Barnaby’s exclusively uses organic malt and hops, as well as propagating their own yeast with organic malt extract. Moreover, the brewery’s water comes from a natural spring that rises on the farmland, just a few hundred yards from the brewery – this is chemical free and particularly soft, thus especially beneficial for producing the brand’s lagers (also suitable for vegans).
Using the green tomatoes, Barnaby’s Brewhouse produced a Green Tomato Saison – a Belgian farmhouse ale typically using sweet fruits such as apricots, strawberries, raspberries or cherries alongside various spices and botanicals. At this year’s BOOM Awards held by the Soil Association, the beer was crowned winner of the Best Organic Beer & Cider category. This ties in particularly well with the Soil Association Certification’s ‘Organic September’ campaign, a month-long celebration of all things organic, encouraging consumers to make swaps to organic produce in a bid to ultimately combat climate change.
“We pride ourselves on being a sustainable brewery, repurposing and reusing all waste products, so when we heard that this crop of green tomatoes had no current purpose, we took it upon ourselves to create a beer from the produce.” Explained Barnaby Harris, Director of Barnaby’s Brewhouse, discussing the Green Tomato Saison.
“Using the green tomatoes in the beer gives it a real freshness, as well as a slight but satisfying sourness. Saison almost has a wine like quality, which makes it a beer that pairs exceptionally with food. It goes particularly well with peppered steaks, Thai dishes, spicy sausages or creamy goat’s cheese.”
On pour, the Green Tomato Saison is golden and clear, capped with a fine white head. On the nose, aromas of tomato vines are joined by some slight herbal notes alongside some yeast and vegetal aromas which continue on the palate alongside some more green tomato savours. Refreshing and slightly sour, the beer also has some pleasing savoury notes alongside a deep vegetal character and oily mouth feel, complete with some moderate bitterness that lasts on the finish with prolonged vine tomato notes. An inventive take on the style that works unexpectedly well.
Barnaby’s Brewhouse’s Green Tomato Saison is available from riverford.co.uk.