The Farmhouse Ale Style: Fad or Fashion

A couple years ago an emerging Black IPA beer style peaked the interest of craft brewers/drinkers and soon swept over the marketplace like a tasty plague. Pretty soon Black IPA wasn’t just a specialty beer, but a regular brand from breweries like Stone and New Glarus. While the rage of Black IPA’s seems to have slowed as of late, it seems “Farmhouse Ale” has taken its place. But what is a Farmhouse Ale?

farmhouseDefining a Farmhouse Ale

While Farmhouse Ale is not listed in the Beer Judge Certification Program style guidelines, a quick internet search (and a slightly lengthier read of Phil Markowski’s book “Farmhouse Ales”) tells us that Farmhouse Ales are usually categorized as the Biere De Garde’s that originated in northern France or the Saison’s that originated in southern Belgium.

Both beer styles were traditionally brewed in the winter time in farmhouses for distribution amongst field workers during the growing season. Because these beers were brewed by hundreds of different brewers, each with their own strain of yeast and limits on available ingredients, the beers likely varied widely in flavor profiles.

What Markowski Says About Biere De Garde

  • Golden to deep amber with a high amount of clarity
  • Faint hop aroma masked by a toasty malt character
  • 6-8% ABV
  • “Favors and displays upfront malt character and sweetness, generally balanced with a paradoxal dryness”

BJCP STYLE FOR BIERE DE GARDE

Brewsconsin Reviews New Belgium Lips of Faith Biere De Garde Collaboration with Brewery Vivant

What Markowski Says About Saison

  • Deep golden to light orange with higher than average carbonation levels
  • Fruity and sometimes spicy Belgian aromatics
  • Flavors can contain spiciness attributed to yeast and often have a detectable level of hop bitterness
  • “Flavor is typically dry and refreshing with fruit and spice flavors dominant”
  • 6-9% ABV

* Traditionally were 3-5% but modern versions tend to be 6-9%

BJCP STYLE FOR SAISON

Brewsconsin’s Review of Goose Island’s Saison’s; Pepe Nero and Sophie

Fad or Fashion?

Markowski’s  defines and classifies two fairly loose styles, Saison and Biere De Garde, as Farmhouse Ales. While Farmhouse might be all the rage right now on the market, it is fair to say that for the most part brewers are being fairly true to style…at least the modern version of it. Even beers like Spotted Cow from New Glarus which would usually be classified as a Cream Ale sort of works as a Farmhouse Ale. The addition of corn likely could have been used by farmhouses looking to get a little extra sugar into their beers so the alcohol would help them keep from winter when they were traditionally brewed until the growing season.

While I originally thought that the Farmhouse Ale was just a marketing tool, I realize now that the style does have a deep-rooted history and that modern brewers’ takes on the styles are usually quite enjoyable and fitting based on all definitions I have researched.

What Next?

If Black IPA was the last craft brewing marketing fad and Farmhouse Ales are just coming into their own (Belgian IPA’s had a quick run in there somewhere, even a few Belgian Black IPA’s reared their heads), what will be the next fad beer style? Also, does that style exist yet? While Farmhouse Ales are modern interpretations of classic styles, Black IPA kind of invented its own style. In fact it is still a specialty category in the BJCP style guidelines. Either way, it is exciting to be here still in the early stages of this craft brewing revolution.

*This blog was powered by Ommegang Hennepin and Goose Island Pepe Nero

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Single Hop Beers – Ale Asylum’s Approach to American-Style Beers

Isthmus beer writer Robin Shepard recently wrote an article about the Ale Asylum‘s new Blood Red Ale which is a hoppy red ale served exclusively at the Ale Asylum. While I haven’t been in to the brewery to try it as of yet, I think the fact that the brewery uses Citra hops exclusively is an interesting example of how the Ale Asylum is doing something really unique with their American-style brews.

To sum it up: Remember the triple-hops brewed Miller Lite commercials? Yeah, it is kind of like that (because that is how most styles of beer are brewed) except the Ale Asylum likes to use one hop varietal exclusively for each beer giving beer drinkers an opportunity to understand how that particular hops bitters, flavors and aromatizes beer.

asylumAle Asylum brews exclusively use the following:

Hopalicious – Cascade

Ballistic – Amarillo

Satisfaction Jacksin – Centennial

Blood Red – Citra

Below is Shepard’s article and following that is the response I posted on the Isthmus web page.

http://www.thedailypage.com/daily/article.php?article=39027#articleComments

Citra might be the most grapefruity of all hops surpassing the Amarillo Ale Asylum uses in the Ballistic IPA. One of my favorite things about Ale Asylum’s hoppy brews is their use of a single hops in each beer to help distinguish that flavor exclusively. A great way to learn about American hops is to sit down with a Hopalicious, a Satisfaction, a Ballistic and put them next to the Blood Red. Four American style hops featured exclusivel in four beers is pretty awesome.

2012 Big Beard Brewsconsin Beer Awards

I’ve been re-Tweeting “best of” beer lists a lot lately and figured it was time I made my own awards. With that being said, here they are.

 

MOMMA SAID KNOCK YOU OUT

LAKE LOUIE

WARPED SPEED SCOTCH ALE

warped

The Warped Speed Scotch Ale is one of those beers that not only taste great every time, but one which also really packs a punch. It has been a staple of my diet for a few years now and I suggest it at work to patrons who “don’t have to do anything for the rest of the day”. Brewmaster Tom Porter easily could have won awards for “Nicest Guy in Wisconsin Brewing” or “Brewmaster with the Coolest Guitar Collection,” but the Warped Speed Scotch Ale is truly his most generous gift to those of us who like a little extra bang in our brew without having to fork over extra cash for a beer that only comes in four-packs. Thanks Tommy!

HONORABLE MENTION: CENTRAL WATERS – SATIN SOLSTACE

 

GATEWAY BEER

NEW GLARUS

SPOTTED COW

spotted-cow-e1307666991566

Finally, a beer that I can drink with my mom! Once Miller Genuine Draft Light switched to the 64 calorie version my mom needed a new brand and found solace in Spotted Cow. She has since branched out to a few other craft and imported beers, but I will always remember Cow as the beer which eased her transition to the wonderful world of craft brewing. I recommend this to all beer-curious people at the bar as a good craft beer to try to get their feet wet. It must be working because it is one of the few craft beers that regularly outsells macros in certain pockets of Wisconsin.

HONORABLE MENTION: CAPITAL SUPPER CLUB

 

WISCONSINNOVATION

LAKEFRONT

WISCONSINITE

Wisconsinite-sticker_NoDie

Lakefront took local ingredient sourcing to a whole level with Wisonsinite. Not only are the water, grain and hops all from Wisconsin, so too is the yeast which was developed by Jeremy King from Northern Brewer. Lakefront says “their new strain is believed be to the only North American-grown yeast in commercial use today as well as the first native brewing yeast from Wisconsin.” And to top it off, the Summer Weiss is a very refreshing and tasty summer beer.

HONORABLE MENTION : CAPITAL – ETERNAL FLAME

 

GROUP HUG

COLLABORATION

COMMON THREAD

IMG_0680

Everything about this beer was great. A collaboration between six brewmasters (Tom Porter – Lake Louie, Scott Manning – Vintage, Kirby Nelson – Capital, Rob Lobriglio – Great Dane, Page Buchannan – House of Brews, and Mark Knobel -Grumpy Troll), the Common Thread was a great-tasting example of a California Common with wonderful marketing and a brilliant logo that really made me appreciate what Wisconsin Craft Brewing is all about. None of these guys ever say anything bad about each other, and in fact work together more than the public might be aware. The mindset is not every craft brewery for themselves, but every craft brewery together against the InBevs and SABMillers of the world.

HONORABLE MENTION: MIDWEST HOPS AND BARLEY COOPERATIVE – FIVE BEER RELEASE from SPRECHER, CENTRAL WATERS, LAKEFRONT, BULL FALLS, SOUTH SHORE

 

OUTSIDE THE BOX

ONE BARREL BREWING CO

MAD TOWN BROWN (Chai Spiced Brown Ale)

OBBC_k_fWith a touch of lactose for a creamy sweetness coupled with fresh homemade Chai Tea Spices, this beer was the most interesting brew I tried in Wisconsin. I am not normally a fan of Chai Tea and honestly thought I would hate the beer, but I have got to give credit to Dan and Peter who really put together a winner here. A must-try if you are in the Madison area.

*For full disclosure, I do work at the One Barrel Brewing Co, but I had nothing to do with the formulation of this beer. I just appreciate its uniqueness.

HONORABLE MENTION : NEW GLARUS – SERENDIPITY

 

GO BIG OR GO HOME

ALE ASYLUM

NEW BREWERY LOCATION

Ale-Asylum

Ale Asylum’s $8 million brewery expansion is probably the biggest move in Wisconsin brewing last year. The new location is beautiful, with tons of space to expand, windows where patrons can watch beer being made and packaged, and, oh yeah, it’s really close to my house. More space coupled with efficient bottling and kegging lines ensures better quality and easier distribution which will allow Ale Asylum to enter markets in entire state of Wisconsin in one fell swoop. With quality product and incredible branding, I foresee Ale Asylum becoming a household name in all of Wisconsin and potentially on a larger scale in a very short amount of time.

HONORABLE MENTION: KIRBY NELSON LEAVES CAPITAL TO START WISCONSIN BREWING CO.

 

¡MUY CALIENTE!

SWEET MULLETS

JORGE

mullets

This jalapeno ale is the most drinkable I have had to date. It has the taste of jalapenos without being to spicy to enjoy and entire pint. Ordinarily, I would never had considered such a category for an award since pepper beers are often too peppery for my pallet, but Sweet Mullets really nailed this one. If you are ever in Oconomowoc, stop by the brewery and give Jorge a taste and tell them Brewsconsin sent ya.

HONORABLE MENTION: GREAT DANE – TRI PEPPER PILS

 

MODEL CITIZEN

HOUSE OF BREWS

COMMUNITY SUPPORTED BREWERY

House of Brews Logo

With CSA’s being all the rage these days I love the idea that House of Brews was created with a similar business model. The idea of creating a community of beer enthusiasts that all share in the bounty of brewing through a subscription system is one of a kind as far as I know (didn’t bother to Google it though). Page Buchannan built House of Brews as a place where not only can customers drink the beer, but talk about beer and have some influence on what is brewed. As a brewer and beer-lover, I like the idea that we no longer have to sit at home and drink whatever the brewery decides to make, I like the idea that I can “subscribe” to a beer or series of beers, and I sincerely like Page and House of Brews and appreciate that they bring something new to the table.

HONORABLE MENTION: ONE BARREL – NANO BREWERY

 

FAVORITE WISCONSIN BEERS BY STYLE

AMERICAN PALE ALE: NEW GLARUS – MOON MAN

AMERICAN IPA: POTOSISNAKE HOLLOW

IMPERIAL IPA: ALE ASYLUM – SATISFACTION JACKSIN

AMBER: SPRECHERAMBER

RED: LAKEFRONT – FIXED GEAR

PORTER: O’SONITE TRAIN

STOUT: HOUSE OF BREWS – SNUG OATMEAL STOUT

IMPERIAL STOUT: SPRECHER – RUSSIAN IMPERIAL

LAGER: LAKEFRONT – HOLIDAY SPICE

FRUIT BEER: VINTAGE – RASPBERRY HIBISCUS SAISON

Beer Review # 3 – Ale Asylum Ballistic/Dark Horse Scotty Karate (at Open Mic)

I’m sitting at Open Mic which is hosted by my friend Phil. I’m drinking an Ale Asylum Ballistic and getting up the nerve to play my version of Lisa Loeb’s “Stay” in honor of my friend Benji’s Birthday. The beer is hoptacular and my mind is at ease. I get on stage and nail about 90 percent of the 40 percent of the original song I am doing and the crowd cheers–Likely because the two minute and 27 second song has concluded. Anyhow, I got off the stage (after singing my cover of “Smell Your Dick” by Riskay) and went back to the beer cooler only to find a Dark Horse Scotty Karate discount-priced at only $3 a bottle.

#winning #happybirthdaybenji


ALE ASYLUM – BALLISTIC

The hop aroma and flavor of this brew are a great example of a well-hopped American-IPA. What I enjoy most about the brew is that Ale Asylum brews it with only one hop variety (Amarillo I believe) so one can really appreciate and understand what that hop has to offer. Hopalicious and Satisfaction Jacksin are the same way, but with different hops.

Price is mid-range @ $9.99/6

My Beer Advocate Rating 4.26

My Rate Beer Rating 4.2

DARK HORSE – SCOTTY KARATE

A well-done and highly bitter strong Scotch Ale with good alcohol content and warmth and a great balance and sweet dry finish. I really enjoy this beer and would call it one of my favorite Scotch Ales on the planet. Also in contention are Old Chub and Dirty Bastard. Scotty has a bit more balls than the others.

Bar price was great! – $3/1

My Beer Advocate Rating 4.23

My Rate Beer Rating 4.0

*This blog was powered by Sierra Nevada Celebration and a homebrewed APA that isn’t all that great

How Many 12oz Beers Fit Into a Standard Ultimate Frisbee?

I like this video because it combines my two favorite things: Frisbee’s and Beers.

I’ve been playing Ultimate on and off for the past seven years and the question of how many beers fit into an Ultimate Disc comes up once in a while so I thought I would do 30 seconds of internet research to find out the actual answer. Thanks to novatan on the YouTubes for getting to the bottom of this so I didn’t have to. I probably would have used beer, but his way is much more practical. Enjoy!