La Vermontoise (Hill Farmstead Brewery & Brasserie de Blaugies)

Style: Belgo-American Saison

6.0% ABV

From: Dour, Belgium

Brewery’s Note: “The Hill Farmstead brewers traveled to Brasserie de Blaugies to share in the kindred bond of farmhouse brewing. The result is this classic saison brewed with spelt and an abundance of Amarillo hops. A true expression of noble Belgian tradition and artistic American innovation from the families at Brasserie de Blaugies and Hill Farmstead.”

The beer pours a pale, greenish yellow, somewhere on the radioactive scale. The cork popped from the bottle with a healthy force, and the pour proves a healthy carbonation by filling half the glass with tight, soapy foam bubbles that slowly wither away. When they go, they leave fat cloud-patches of lacing. In body, this beer is properly cloudy and opaque, though plenty of light comes through. There does not seem to be any particulate floating around, and overall the beer seems to give off a beautiful coloring that somehow seems vintage and sepia-tinted. It looks rustic, it looks of a Belgian nature, and it looks good. On the nose, the beer expresses both breweries in a lovely duet. The earthy, funked yeast of Blaugies comes through smoothly, giving off nips of cream, touches of pepper and green banana, wet hay, raw herbs, and perhaps a touch of basil. Yet on top of these classic farmhouse notes rides a rich citrus that must come from the Amarillo hop, though it carries hints of Arthur within it, and suggests to my nose that the Hill Farmstead farmhouse yeast had some part to play in this lovely beer. There is fresh lemongrass, grapefruit juice, and the slight turn of lime peel hiding in the nose of this beer, but other than that it shares quite a lot with Saison D’Epeautre. On the tongue, the beer tastes of sweet citrus and bread dough, blended in with herbal bitters that turn to citric bitters. A citric acidity builds in the mouth on the sip and smacks at the tongue along with the growing bitters –which prove the beer’s American hopped nature. Spice tickles at the beginning of the sip, and returns in subtle waves with the finish and aftertaste, leaving a light tingle, as well. The earthy yeast character also carries from start to finish, playing with all the other tastes but keeping its own subtleties throughout the sip. The flavor is of sour dough, creamy green bananas, spicy pepper flesh capsaicin with touches of cracked pepper, and a balance of very slight buttery malt. All of this slowly slides into and is blended with bitter herbs, touches of basil and lettuce, alongside bitter grapefruit rind and juice, and just a touch of lemongrass. There is a raw grainy flavor that kind of blends in with everything else, but which helps to carry the whole “rustic” theme to fruition. The hops are actually less of a player on the tongue than they were on the nose, and the beer veers more towards a slightly bitterer Saison D’Epeautre in taste, which is not horrible by any means, but does leave me wishing for a bit more bite. In the mouth, the beer feels firmly in the middle of medium bodied beers, with an effervescent carbonation that toes the line of prickly, giving slight bites of sharpness, and definitely keeping the sweeter aspects down and drying out the mouth. As a whole, the beer feels sharp and crisp, but with a bit of slight flab on the finish just on the edges of the tongue. It feels weird for such a dry and crisp beer, but the finish definitely carries more girth than it should. –It almost feels like snapping a loose peapod between the roof of the mouth and the tongue… if that makes any sense– When the beer leaves, the mouth is left moist, with a nice, stickier pool of spittle congealing over the tongue while the mouth experiences a pleasant, drying sensation. Overall, this beer is begging for simple, raw food to go along with it. Fresh bread and vegetables, perhaps a salad with light meat. These would be wonderful to play with the slight spiciness and bitters in the beer. I’m a little let down in that I see this as a bitterer, American-hopped take on Saison D’Epeutre, but I honestly loved that beer, so this is really not a bad thing. The smell promised more than the taste revealed, but this is really just a bitterer, classic Belgian saison. Put it on the table and eat with it. Good beer.

 

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