If you’re a craft beer enthusiast, you’ve probably tried a variety of beer styles, from IPAs to stouts. But have you ever tried a farmhouse ale? This rustic and refreshing beer style has been gaining popularity in recent years and is worth exploring.
What Are Farmhouse Ales and Why Should You Try Them?
Farmhouse ales have a rich history that dates back centuries. These beers were originally brewed by farmers in Belgium and France during the cooler months of the year, using local ingredients and wild yeast strains to create unique and complex flavors. The style became popular in the Wallonia region of Belgium, where it was known as saison, meaning “season” in French. Saison beers were often brewed in the winter months, stored in barrels, and served to farm workers during the warmer months of the year.
There are several different styles of farmhouse ales, including saisons, bière de gardes, and Belgian farmhouse ales. Saisons are the most well-known style characterized by their fruity and spicy flavors, high carbonation, and dry finish. Bière de gardes are similar to saisons but are brewed in northern France and have a maltier, richer flavor profile. Belgian farmhouse ales are brewed with Belgian yeast strains and are known for their complex flavor profiles, including fruity, spicy, and earthy notes.
One of their defining characteristics is the brewing method used. Traditionally, these beers were brewed using a mix of barley, wheat, and other grains, as well as local hops and spices. The water used in the brewing process also played a role in the beer’s flavor, as it often came from local wells or streams. They were also fermented at warmer temperatures, which helped to create the fruity and spicy flavor profiles that are characteristic of the style. Many were also bottle conditioned, meaning that they underwent a secondary fermentation in the bottle, creating natural carbonation.
While farmhouse ales were originally brewed in rural farmhouses, modern craft breweries have embraced this rustic beer style and adapted it to their production methods. Today, they are typically brewed in stainless steel tanks using temperature-controlled systems to ensure consistency and quality. However, some breweries still use traditional methods, such as open fermentation and barrel aging, that impart unique flavors and characteristics. Using locally sourced ingredients, such as wild yeast and grains, also adds to the complexity and terroir of these beers. Despite the modern brewing environment, farmhouse ales continue to pay homage to their rustic origins and offer a refreshing and unique beer experience.
One of the defining characteristics of farmhouse ales is their complex and varied flavor profile. Depending on the specific style and ingredients used, they have a range of flavors that can include fruity and spicy notes and earthy and herbal undertones. Common flavors include citrus, pear, apple, banana, clove, pepper, and coriander. The use of wild yeast strains can also create a funky or sour flavor profile, which adds to the beer’s complexity. Farmhouse ales are generally known for their dry, refreshing finish, making them a popular choice for beer enthusiasts looking for something unique and satisfying.
Farmhouse ales are versatile and can be paired with various foods. Their complex flavor profiles make them excellent for pairing with spicy or flavorful dishes, such as Thai or Indian cuisine. They also pair well with grilled meats and vegetables, seafood, and cheese.
Try every style of beer at The Growler Guys.
Explore the growing variety of beers in one taproom, The Growler Guys. Each location carries the best local varieties, from the palest ales to the darkest stouts, along with ciders and kombucha. Our friendly staff is happy to walk you through the characteristics of every style to help you discover your personal favorites. Take home the beers you love best in a growler to share with family and friends. View our online tap list to learn about the available selections at a location near you.