As anybody involved knows, the spirit within any city’s craft beer scene is at least friendly, if not downright sexual. In addition to the stories of one brewer giving another a leg-up, the brewery staff have a tendency to hang out. To one-up each other. To form grand schemes at the bottom of big bottles. So it’s unsurprising when a few breweries decide to do a collaborative brew, particularly when presented with an event, like OCB week. This is exactly what happened with Amsterdam Brewing, Great Lakes Brewery, and Erica Graholm (of Steamwhistle) , with their creation of Farmhouse Ale. A Farmhouse Ale is another name for a saison, which is a Belgian style of beer. Great in the summer, these beers are generally bubbly, fruity/floral and a bit spicy. Both Amsterdam and Great Lakes have produced excellent saisons on their own, so I have high hope for a collaboration.
From a 650ml bomber, Farmhouse Ale pours a hazy lemon yellow that hints at orange in the centre. About 1/4″ of loose head drops to a film and ring that stick around most of the glass. Aroma is classic saison, a nice lemon/citrus sharpness with yeast, some grainy malts and spices. I couldn’t pick them specifically, but due to the label, I know that it is cardamom, sage and peppercorns. Spices become much more defined on the palate, with the floral/lemon note becoming more supportive. Pepper is present, but not hot; the sage gives a hop-like earthy spiciness; cardamom isn’t a taste a lot of western palates are used to, but if you know it, you can pick it’s fresh savoury bite. Malts are there too, still grainy and sweet, and the yeast gives a bready quality to the drink. Very light and effervescent, the beer is super-refreshing as you would expect. A perfect example of the style, and a beer that I could drink all summer. I literally would like to have cases of this. It would be my go-to beer for the next few months. I think there are bottles at both breweries right now. Grab some, because they won’t last.
About The Brewers
Two of Toronto’s oldest microbreweries, when the crews from Amsterdam and Great Lakes get together, it would be hard to imagine things not working out well. Add Erica to the mix and you have a team that would put fear into the heart of Dupont.