Farmhouse Ale

Smuttynose – Farmhouse Ale


Well hello there faithful reader. It’s Monday evening once again, and what better time for a beer? I’m in a particularly beer-drinking mood tonight (no surprise), but it’s a little stronger than usual. Last night I bottled my special holiday saison…and it tastes pretty damn good already. It’s like a saison, but darker with a hint of that warm fuzz feeling you get from a hug. I’m also brewing an nice hoppy IPA tomorrow, the yeast starter is all set to go! Well enough about my homebrew, tonight we have atraditional style saison from Smuttynose.

She pours out beautifully! This is what a great saison should look like, a beautiful clear golden color, topped with a luxurious, oh-so-foamy head. If there is one type of beer that gives fantastic head, it’s saisons baby! It leaves a damn good amount of lacing too, truly a beauty to behold. Kudos to Smuttynose for making a saison every bit as gorgeous as her imported sisters. Let’s see if her aroma is as wonderful.

Ohhhh yeah… Let me tell you guys and gals something. Some saisons will have an aroma extremely similar to a barnyard. Some saisons will be mostly peppery and spicy, with a hint of the barnyard aroma. Some of them also have the slightest bit of tartness to them. But every now and then you come across a very special saison, one that is prominently tart. These ones…they’re freaking awesome! And this one… it’s proudly offering an extremely tart aroma, and I couldn’t be happier! It’s mostly reminiscent of tart apples, and has a very slight amount of sweetness near the end. She doesn’t forgot the signature barnyard scent though, it’s just less pronounced than the tart aroma. I’ve gotta taste this…

Ok, I was expecting more sour up front, but your immediately blasted with the sweetness. Honestly, I’m a bit disappointed, and that’s hard for me to write but it’s how I feel. It’s mostly from the aroma, I was expecting something more like a gueuze rather than something so sweet. It’s not overly sweet though, it’s very balanced by the peppery, spicy flavor, which is pretty common for saisons. There’s the slightest bit of tartness, but it’s nowhere near what the aroma suggests. She also gives you a nice citrus overtone that complements the whole tasting experience. Her body is a lovely smooth yet rich feel, it’s extremely full for a saison which is nice. And to finish it off your left with the slightest bit of pucker from the tart and a lingering sweetness to balance it.

Overall, this is a solid saison. It’s a bit on the sweeter side, but if you like that go for this brew. I probably wouldn’t get this brew again as good as it is, it’s just not my style. I need something with a bit more bite, and the aroma was a huge tease for me. But don’t count her out, shes a solid brew no doubt.

Until next beer, this is Brian G. signing out!

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Categories: Beer, Farmhouse Ale | Leave a comment

Jolly Pumpkin – E.S. Bam


Well good evening their faithful readers, I just popped open a very special brew tonight. I know I say that…almost every time, but I really mean it this time! I popped open this special farmhouse ale from Jolly Pumpkin only to have it foam completely out of the bottle, this baby has some serious carbonation. You can see from the picture it’s quite thick, but well get to that in a bit. There’s another reason this beer is special to me, it’s another beer on my journey of sours. I’ve been trying more sour beers recently and really enjoy them, partially because of the process in which they’re made. I won’t bore you (again that word seems violent…) with details, but bacteria makes it sour so a lot of the flavor is left up to nature, quite like wine. There are even vintage year sour beers from single barrels, but generally the beers are blends of different barrels to make it taste just like the brewer wants. Alright, asleep yet? Good, let’s pour this baby!

Now I know what your thinking, that’s a mountain of head right there! You’d better believe it partner, and seeing a beauty willing to give so much head really gets my heart pumping. In fact, the head has died down now and it looks like a lace pattern covering the whole glass…ah no wonder they call it lacing. This is the most impressive head giver I’ve ever seen, I have to give this baby an award for: “Best Head Giver 2012.” For this prestigious award she shall receive her own category and will forever be the lone beer in it. Now if I can take my eyes off the generous helping of head for a moment we can see a lovely clear amber beer, almost a honey color. It’s fairly opaque but not greatly, you can trace the outlines of your fingers through the glass. Well we certainly have a special girl here tonight, let’s see what she smells like.

Mmm… it’s tart and very complex, but you definitely are hit with a punch of tartness up front. Afterwards, a fruity scent sneaks its way into the aroma, possibly an apple flavor. It’s so incredibly subtle though, nothing more than a whisper in the middle of wall street. Let’s see if this whisper can get any louder shall we?

Ahhh, very interesting… The sour bomb I was expecting up front is absent. I guess he didn’t get the memo about the meeting we scheduled, but pinch hitting for Mr. bomb is Mrs. sweetness, in all her seductive glory. It’s almost like an apricot to me, though I’m no advocate of apricots, it is what comes to my mind so I’m writing it. This is quickly washed away however, swept aside by a more acidic vinegar tartness than a sour cherry tartness. I must be honest, I am not enjoying this type of sourness over the more fruity sourness, but far be it from me to judge to quickly. It took me time to appreciate the other sours I’ve had, this is just another side to them I haven’t experienced yet. Actually, it’s the aftertaste that is most vinegary, the middle of the flavor is a dry somewhat fruity tartness> I think of a red sheet of hard candy for some reason. I know it doesn’t make sense, but it flashes in my mind during the middle of the tasting, I should probably see a professional after I write this. It’s a pretty complex flavor that’s very hard to pin down, almost like a chameleon sightly shifting it’s flavor to blend in with other flavors in a never-ceasing dance of camouflage.

Overall, it’s not my favorite sour but it’s one of the most delicately complex ones. The head alone warrants a standing ovation, and the complexity behind this petite beauty is a testament to the art of sour beers. Not overly tart, not overly sweet, not quite like any other sour I’ve sampled.

Until next beer this is Brian G. signing out.

Categories: Beer, Best Head Giver 2012, Farmhouse Ale | Leave a comment

Weyerbacher – Seventeen


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Well hello hello, it’s time again for a brew review. I just finished stepping up my yeast starter to brew my first ever imperial stout this weekend! I’m looking forward to it, though it will take 4 months to condition. Well you know what they say, good things come to those who wait. Well, I’m generally an impatient guy so I’ll be drinking and brewin’ many other beers while that baby conditions. Speaking of which I happen to have a beautiful saison right here.

Now what I really like about saisons, or farmhouse ales, is that you can ferment them at much higher temperatures than other beer types. When I made my last saison I didn’t even put it in the cooler, I let it sit out at 80 degrees most of the time and it turned out pretty damn good if I do say so myself. I made a pretty light saison though, this Weyerbacher weighs in at a hefty 10.5%….that’s one serious brew! This particular one is called Seventeen which represents the number of years Weyerbacher has been open. They make a beer like this once a year so I’m very happy to have gotten this beauty. Another interesting fact is they change the style of this beer every year. Fifteen was a stout, Sixteen a braggot, now a beautiful saison. Let’s see what seventeen years of fine brewing looks like…

Mmmm… man it looks good. It’s a beautiful golden straw color that’s pretty damn opaque. The head is very slim, but it’s to be expected from a saison for the most part. I’m not gonna say my usual joke about how I advocate extra head all the time…it’s been done to death at this point. Instead I will say I recognize that not all beauties will give excessive head, and over the years I’ve come to terms with this. For these beauties that may be lacking in the head giving department, they make up for it with silky smooth bodies and exquisite flavors! Yes, each beautiful beer has something special to offer in her own way. So let’s examine this gorgeous beer a bit further and delve into her sweet scent.

Mmmm (again), it smells like a good saison but it’s not overpowering like some. Some saisons punch you in the face with this almost barnyard like smell. It’s this sickly sweet smell mixed with a hint of spice, but when it’s strong man is it strong. This one has a subdued sweet barnyard smell, kind of like straw or hay, and then the slightest whisper of spice at the end. I can also smell a bit of citrus in the middle which generally goes great with this beer style. Ah yes it says right here it’s brewed with orange and lemon and grapefruit peel….damn what a complex beer I got my greasy little paws on! I can’t really smell the lemon or grapefruit though, alas my nose fails me again to leave you readers in the dark wondering if I can truly smell at all. I must move on lest my shame overwhelm me.

My first thought is balance when I sip this, but its quickly obliterated by the spices…in a good way. Let’s take this a step at a time. When this beauty rolls against my tongue she starts off innocently enough with just a bit of sweetness. The flavor then crescendos gracefully into a fuller bodied somewhat citrus and lemon taste…mind you it’s done with grace and doesn’t just blast you away. No, she takes her time to let you adjust. But don’t take this lady too lightly, she ends the whole experience with a roundhouse kick of spice and leaves your tongue trembling in her wake. The finish is ever so slightly alcoholic, but at 10.5% one can hardly expect otherwise! She leaves a pleasant reminder of her presence that’s just a little bitter but perfectly balanced with sweetness. One of the best aftertastes I’ve ever had from a beer!

Overall this beauty is a solid representation of seventeen years of fine beers. She is a shining beacon to heavy saisons, a blinking lighthouse in a sea of uncertainty. She guides you safely though more treacherous waters and then sends a wave crashing against your hull. It is only then you realize she has pushed you into the shore of a tropical paradise. Thank you Seventeen, for making me believe again.
Until next beer this is Brian G signing out!

Categories: Beer, Farmhouse Ale | Leave a comment

Bam Noire


Ah another Sunday, this one perhaps a bit nicer than most since tomorrow is Memorial Day and I have the day off work. I went and saw my mom who was in town, just got back from visiting about an hour ago. I’ve gotta fix my Buick’s AC because it was a hot drive out there today. The funny thing is I was incredibly thirsty on my way back, but I managed to stop at the beer store before arriving home. I’ve gotten some very interesting brews this time, might post a group photo.

First up is a Dark Farmhouse Ale…that’s why I got it. Well that and the bottle had a dog with bat wings on it. I’ve never heard of a Farmhouse Ale so I’m extremely curious about this one. The bottle states a dark smooth incredibly delicious brew. Well that’s my summary, they state it much more poetically.  I couldn’t locate the ABV anywhere…ah yes Google. The ABV is 4.3, pretty low by my standard but taste is more important….barely. Regardless, dark beer usually makes me happy, let’s see what she does.

Bam Noire, aside from having a cool name, has a great look to it. The head is…amazing. I’m sure that line made someone smile. Innuendo aside, this beer has the largest head I’ve seen. It took three pours to fill the cup simply because the head would fill it so quickly. This brew is not for the impatient; I had to wait a good five to six minutes before the head was down. That’s extremely cool in my book, I wonder if all farmhouse ales share this property. The color is muddy brown and is very opaque. It does look like what I think farmhouse ale should look like based on the name alone, a very farmy color! I hope it doesn’t smell like a farm though.

Damn…this beer smells great. I mean, it’s fruity with a spice; A hint of sweetness with more sourness alongside a trace of alcohol. Smells almost like a Belgian ale with a bit less sweetness, I think I’m gonna like it here in Flavortown.

The taste…very hoppy and bitter. A good strong tasting beer, but that’s mostly towards the end of the taste.  The initial flavor is very much like a Belgian with subdued sweetness. I taste a fruity tangy flavor with a bit of spice that quickly turns hoppy and bitter; A very complex beer for sure. It has a rich body that compliments the taste very nicely. It’s got a very small bit and it’s extremely smooth. Like a Chihuahua I suppose. Well this puppy taste great! (Feel free to use that joke.)

Overall I’d say this beer is a very nice change of pace. It’s like a Belgian fighting with an IPA for attention in your mouth…well that didn’t sound right but oh well it’s already written. The head on this beer alone is a reason you should at least try one, fantastic amount of head!

Until next beer this is Brian G signing out!

Categories: Beer, Farmhouse Ale | Leave a comment

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