Thursday, April 25, 2013

Hip Brewer Plays It Safe

I have wanted to try Vermont's Hill Farmstead beers since reading about them on the Kaedrin Beer Blog, and subsequently, in other publications.  This small brewery is uber hip, and its limited distribution feeds the buzz.  I had never seen one of Hill Farmstead's beers here in Southern California until a few weeks ago, when I saw - and immediately bought - a Hill Farmstead collaboration beer, La Vermontoise.  It's a saison brewed with Belgium's Brasserie De Blaugies

I knew nothing about this beer (or Hill Farmstead's collaborative brewer, Brasserie De Blaugies, for that matter) when I bought it, other than the label information stating that the beer was a classic saison.  It poured a pale, opaque yellow with intense carbonation that created a thick white foam.  It had the taste of a traditional saison, much more along the lines of Saison Dupont than the wild, unpredictable Fantome.

La Vermontoise was a spicy, yeast-forward beer, with a marked dryness.  The Amarillo hops imparted a gentle bitterness through the long finish.   This was a drinkable, approachable beer.  A safe beer.  It was straightforward in its construction, and didn't pull any flavor twists.  I noted that I felt it a serious beer despite its straitlaced approach to the saison style.

I liked La Vermontoise.  Saison is a style open to liberal interpretation and variation, and I appreciated La Vermontoise's traditional take on the style.   Initially, with Hill Farmstead's trendy reputation, I was expecting an edgier beer, but its edginess was its traditionalism.  It is easier to find a beer's flaws when a brewer adheres to a strict style script than when playing loose and pushing boundaries, and I didn't notice any mistakes in La Vermontoise.   Once I realized La Vermontoise's was a formal saison, I was able to enjoy it for its excellent construction, and most importantly, excellent flavor.  I'd like to try more Hill Farmstead beers, in particular ones that helped create its trendy reputation. 

1 comment:

Mark said...

One of these days, I'm going to break down and take an 8 hour drive to Vermont and load up on HF, Lawsons, and Heady. In the meantime, I'll just have to try and track some more down during Philly Beer Week... assuming they come down here again. I've actually only ever had one of HF's saisons, but those aren't what gets hyped from HF (unless it's wild/barrel aged). They make some of the best IPAs I've ever had though (Abner is amazing). (Oh, and thanks for the pointer:)