Style: American Amber Saison
5.4% ABV (?)
From: Greensborough, VT
Bottled On: 06/25/15
Brewery’s Note: “An amber farmstead™ ale brewed on the Summer Solstice. Our great friends Peter (Flying Couch) and Christian (Beer Here) joined us from Denmark in celebrating the solstice and brewing this summer saison.”
The beer pops with a barely audible hiss, and pours into the glass nearly flat and lifeless. It pours out a color akin to Grade A maple syrup, and sits in the glass a cloudy amber with pinkish highlights. The beer displays no head whatsoever, and just the thinnest scrim-ring of soapy, clear bubbles. In body, the beer is completely opaque and rather dark, displaying touches of cloudiness in its murk, and flashes of what might be the other side of the glass. Bloody swamp water, perhaps? It’s not much of a looker, but it does have a sort of thin-mead/murky rosé mystique to it. On the nose, the beer smells of those Hill boy’s farmstead yeast. Lemongrass, chalk, touches of pool water, minerally spirits, touches of generic berry juice, soft hay, lemonade,… the list goes on, but honestly, this smells a lot like Convivial Suarez. That is not a bad thing by any measure, but I’m curious how the flavor and taste differ. On the tongue, the beer begins a lottttt like Convivial, yet again. The lip smacking acidity is nearly identical as it moves over the mouth but dies in the finish to be replaced by an herbal, pithy bitterness akin to orange rind, there’s also a deep, earthy grassiness, which barely keeps from turning to a grainy malt sweetness. The dry, bitter finish is really where this beer goes astray of Convivial, and that has me scratching my head slightly, only because Convivial had hibiscus and lemon in it… This beer is definitely sweeter up front, and the finish carries far more bitters, but the start is damn close. As I sip it more, a caramelly sweetness does touch the start, which differs the beer from its Grassroots brother a touch more. The flavor of the beer starts like lemon juice with mineral water, a little bit of pool, a touch of strawberry, soft caramel malt, and such, and this sings into the finish where it drops and dries into slight hay, nettles, orange pith, a touch of OJ, and a ghostly sweetness that seems to be grainy malt. In the mouth is where this beer differentiates itself the most, carrying a medium, languid body that somehow manages to pop on the tongue with acidity, while having a nearly negligible carbonation. It’s prickly with acidity, yet lazy and almost oozing, and it leaves a damn-near-tannic astringency on the back palate that has me thinking bitter tea. The tongue is left taught and dry, with little rivulets running down to dowse the barren expanse. The rest of the mouth is quite damp, but the roof of the mouth carries that bitter pucker that –again– comes from drinking over-brewed tea. The bitters really linger in the mouth, too. They snap at most other flavors, yet never fully overpower everything. Overall, this is an odd little sipper. It’s tasty, complex, and very similar to Convivial in the start, which is very nice. The bitter end is fascinating to sip, opens up nicely with time, and as long as you continue to keeping dousing the tongue with another sip, it doesn’t become unpleasant. The minute you stop sipping though, it starts to get a little too tea-tannic bitter for me. This is yet another beautiful ale from the Hills, and is really quite superb, but I do think it needs a little age and a little more balance to truly stand with others of their Farmstead Ales lineup.