06 September 2008

Smuttynose Farmhouse Ale (NH)

This is a Smuttynose Big Beers seasonal that I'm catching late in its run. Still, the bottle dating implies it will be drinkable through 2011, so there's no concern about staleness.

This saison pours coppery orange with a big white head. It's medium-bodied with wonderful soft carbonation. The taste is primarily fruity -- maybe apricots and peaches -- and secondarily spicy. There's a touch of sourness involved as well, but the aftermath for me leans more toward fruity and maybe sugary. It would be nice if it were drier, but still, it's very, very good, a warm weather beer with great depth of flavor. It's over 7% ABV and tickles the ribcage a bit.

Before this. I think I've only ever had two saisons: Ommegang Hennepin, one of my favorite beers, and Southern Tier's disappointing Cherry Saison. I'd rank Smuttynose right up there with Hennepin. I haven't tried them side by side, but I think Hennepin is more perfumey and perhaps a bit wilder, while Smuttynose's take is fruitier. It may be a little late in the season to be drinking saison, but if you find it, this Big Beer is worth two purchases: one for now and one for the cellar.

BTW, the brewery's current seasonal is the intriguing Wheat Wine Ale, carrying a back story of a labeling battle with the Tax and Trade Bureau.

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