Review: Farmhouse Ale, Smuttynose Brewing

Farmhouse Ale
Smuttynose Brewing Co. — Portsmouth, NH

  • Style:  Saison
  • Bitterness:  15 IBU
  • ABV:  8.2%
  • Malts:  Pilsner, Aromatic, Wheat
  • Hops:  
    • Bittering: Warrior,
    • Finishing: Liberty & Sterling
  • Yeast:  Belgian Saision I (WLP 565)
  • Sampled:  22 oz. bottle
  • Full Disclosure:  Sample provided by brewery

Description:  "Broadly speaking, a farmhouse ale - or saison - is an esoteric style native to the French/Belgian border region. Characterized by a golden to light amber color, light to medium body, and noticeable fruity/spicy esters, this beer, known also as a “country ale” was traditionally brewed in primitive conditions in farmhouse breweries for consumption throughout the warm weather by seasonal farm workers. Our Farmhouse Ale is an homage to traditional European beers brewed for quenching the thirst of farm workers, or 'Saisonaires.' A unique Belgian Saison yeast is used to impart a mixture of spicy, fruity, & earthy notes along with lip-smacking palatability." — Smuttynose Brewing Co.

Random thoughts:  Farmhouse Ale is the fifth release in Smuttynose's 2011 "Big Beer" series. This is the brewery's rotating line of limited release beers.  They're brewed in small quantities and the lineup changes from year to year.

The tasting:  Light copper in color, hazy, with light effervescence floating through the glass. It has a white head that dissipates fairly slowly. The aroma is complex with many layers of fruit and spice. I noticed tangerine, pear, green apple, white pepper, and clove. Flavor is similar to aroma, with the addition of a slightly sweet bready malt base and a mild layer of spicy hops. In the middle, a touch of alcohol is noticeable—but well below what I'd expect of an 8.2% ABV brew.  Farmhouse Ale is medium bodied, moderately carbonated, and finishes dry with spicy pepper. Farmhouse ales often have funky aromas and flavors, but I didn't notice those in this beer. It's very easy to drink, despite the higher ABV %.

Rating:  4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again!   I'm a relative newbie to Saisons / Farmhouse Ales.   My first exposure to the style was earlier this spring at Cascade's Saison Fest.  This is a great representation of the style because it has all the wonderful layers of aroma and flavor. While the lack of funk may be a turn-off to some, I think it makes the beer approachable to a wider audience. Unfortunately, Smuttynose is not distributed on the West Coast. If you live in the east, and like Saisons—or want to sample the style, this is a beer you should look for.

Have you tried Farmhouse Ale or any other Smuttynose Big Beers?

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  1. Where'd you get that Smuttynose? Are they distributing it out here now?

  2. Jeff, the brewery sent me a sample. I don't think distribute west of Illinois.

  3. What, the brewery's sending samples to you while I haul them back in my now-expensive checked luggage when I return from New England? I'm doing something wrong.


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