Monday, July 14, 2008

Farmhouse Ales, Missouri Style.

Our long home leave in the American hinterlands has offered lots of chances to sample hugely hoppy brews. Sadly, not much time to blog. I did get to homebrew with my brother a bit, partly inspired by my Belgian experiences.

That boiling pot you see there is 10 gallons of Missouri farmhouse experiment. Half became a refreshing American pale ale with reasonably hoppy flavor. The other half is nearing completion as a Belgian-style saison. Same ingredients, including some juicy American hops for aroma, but wildly different yeasts and fermentations. Maybe I'll let you in on the side-by-side results after bottle-conditioning is done. This much I can say: We're pleased to get such flavorful beers weighing in at a highly quaffable 4 percent alcohol. In that sense they're closer to the real farmhouse ales that farmers gave their workers in the old days. Those ales inspired the somewhat stronger, modern versions like the great Saison Dupont.

Also apparently inspired by that classic was a beer I'd long been waiting to try: the Boulevard Saison. This one is easy to like, mildly bitter and spicy with a dry finish. Some subtle citrus aroma adds to the refreshment. It was damn hard to beat in the thick of Missouri summer, with some grilled steaks down at the lake. Or on the farm.

The farm where we brewed, incidentally, was owned by my grandparents until they died last year. Our family still owns it, for now. No ostriches, but there are some chickens. They got to eat the spent brewing grains. Happy chickens.

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