Both of those lists are now hilariously out of date. The best example of this is that Rhinegeist isn’t on either list as they weren’t open yet. I initially sat down to write an update for Ohio’s part in the Six-Pack Project but remembered the difficulty in narrowing an entire state down into six beers. So, I decided to settle down to just a Cincinnati Six-pack, plus a few from Dayton. I also reached out to Pat at Pat’s Pints in Columbus and Rick Armon at The Ohio Beer Blog in Akron/Cleveland. They’ll both be doing similar posts covering their parts of Ohio in the next few weeks.
Before starting this article, I’d like to give a shout out to Krankies Coffee. I’m sitting here on their patio enjoying some beautiful North Carolina weather while sipping a delicious pour and munching on an apple butter biscuit. If you’re ever in Winston-Salem, you should give them a shot.
Wild Honey and Wild Yeasts
Brewing is a fantastic mixture of both artistic expression and various sciences. This mixture is what keeps me creating and pushing the bounds of my abilities. But once you’ve made beer out of probiotic capsules, what do you do next?
My first thought was how long has it been since I’ve been stung by a wasp and is this worth it? I’ll let you know once everything thaws, but I’m never one to be patient so to keep my pipeline of odd things brewing, I decided to give honey a shot. My logic being that honey is essentially bee vomit, and if it can cross-breed in such a terrifying creature as a wasp, maybe it can also cross-pollinate inside of our friends, the bees.
I always ask for a deluge of books for Christmas. I love giving and receiving books for birthdays or the holidays. They’re little bundles of knowledge that enrich the life of the giftee. Which is to say get ready for a couple book reviews over the next few weeks. Farmhouse Ales and Wild Brews have both been on my must read homebrewing list for a few years so I was stoked to receive them both as gifts. Farmhouse Ales ended up on the top of the pile of books so we’re tackling that first, look forward to Wild Brews soon!
To start us off here’s the publisher’s description:
Farmhouse Ales defines the results of years of evolution, refinement, of simple rustic ales in modern and historical terms, while guiding today’s brewers toward credible—and enjoyable—reproductions of these old world classics.
Brooklyn Brewery’s Sorachi Ace is a rather unique and special beer. Many brews are made with a combination of hop varieties this beer is very different as it uses 1 single hop from which it takes its name, the sorachi ace. While many hops are hundreds of years old, not so for the Sorachi Ace. It was custom engineered by Sapporo in Japan in the late 70s from a combination of Brewer’s Gold and Saaz hops, both classic varieties. Sorachi Ace hops also shows off one final unique characteristic by having a flavor of lemon and dill, different than the citrus/grapefruit/grass action of many hops.
So Brooklyn Brewery took this unique hop and used it in the somewhat special style of saison. Saisons are a complex style with a wide range of possible profiles, however, most are dry, moderate strength beers that are refreshing on hot summer days. They’re the second runner up for summer beers next to wheat beers like Bell’s Oberon and Sam Adam’s Summer Ale. Per the Brooklyn Brewery website Sorachi Ace is “a cracklingly dry, hoppy unfiltered golden farmhouse ale, but made entirely with now-rare Sorachi Ace hops grown by a single farm in Washington.”
A new, limited collaboration beer from two intriguing breweries just dropped in the area and I decided to give it a go. Brasserie Fantôme is well known for their saisons, which, when right, are delicious. Hill Farmstead was recently voted upon as the #1 Brewery in the world by ratebeer. They make fantastic saisons, amongst other things. So in Novemeber when Hill Farmstead posted on their Facebook page 133 pictures in an album called “Belgium Trip 2012 – Fantôme Brew Day!” there was a lot to be excited about.
5 Sciences Beer pops open and pours dead flat. Uh oh. The color isn’t well captured in this photo, in that it seemed even brighter and opaque in person. It has a consistent color that reminds one of a commercial product that I will identify momentarily.
The smell on this beer is slightly smoky, which seems out of place and then big blasts of citrus fruit. It’s hard to describe in comparison to other beers, however it has a very clear comparable, which I will again leave for the taste breakdown.
It doesn’t taste quite as smoky as it smells. What it does taste like is slightly watered down artificial flavored fruit juice. In fact, it brings out a powerful taste memory for me: Gatorade AM Orange Strawberry. In fact, it looks like Gatorade AM, and if you omit the smokiness which seems quite out of place, it smells and tastes like Gatorade AM. Even the completely uncarbonated body goes down like a Gatorade.
Let me put it all together here – this beer is not bad, it just is not something that really is all that identifiable as beer. There is not alcohol heat, nor is the flavor offensive, however I doubt that anyone spending some good coin on a Fantôme/Hill Farmstead collaboration saison is expecting to be treated to something most comparable to an obscure Gatorade flavor. I cannot recommend this as a beer. Further, I am not really sure how they accomplished such a strange beer. This was a real letdown from two brewers who have the ability to make the best of the best. Oh well – there’s always the next beer.
I’ve never been a fan of sour ales but 2012 seems to be the year for saisons (aka farmhouse ales). Quite a few different breweries are producing these extremely sour beers. So despite by bad past experiences I decided to give the Saison Du BUFF a try. I’ll do the review first then explain a bit about saisons and the story of BUFF.