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Farmhand Ale - Driftwood Brewery

Not Rated.
Farmhand AleFarmhand Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
89
very good

141 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 141
Reviews: 57
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 9.48%
Wants: 12
Gots: 14 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Driftwood Brewery visit their website
British Columbia, Canada

Style | ABV
Saison / Farmhouse Ale |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Derek on 12-20-2008

Our interpretation of this Southern-Belgian farmhouse ale uses a partial sour-mash and the addition of freshly ground black pepper. We use a very unique strain of yeast from Belgium to add further layers of spice and complexity to this rare style of beer.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 141 | Reviews: 57
Reviews by astout:
Photo of astout
4.3/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Great summer beer and a pretty decent example of the style although a little watered down from the belgian versions.

Pours a straw yellow colour with a decent frothy head.

Aromas of pepper and lemon dominate with a but of yeasty funk in the background.

Milky and smooth on the palate with lots of citrus upfront and a peppery kick on the back end although not as much as I would have expected. Light and very drinkable with moderate carbonation. Not as funky as some saisons but a very delicious summer beer for sure.

More User Reviews:
Photo of chickenm
3.99/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours orange-copper and has an off-white head with low retention. Nice fruity aroma with spices and yeast. Spicy taste with citrus, pepper, sugar, and sweet malts. Mouthfeel is a little watery. Very drinkable though, this is another solid beer from Driftwood.

Photo of biboergosum
4.37/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

650ml bomber, brought back from a visit to Kelowna earlier this 'summer'...

This beer pours a hazy medium golden orange colour (very fall foliage-esque!), with two fingers of roiling, foamy eggshell white head, which leaves some splotches of lace around the glass as it duly recedes. It smells of white grain, banana, clove, and yeast. The taste is quite fruity - banana, apricot, some orange pith - mostly overshadowing the more demure malt. Balancing this is a nice even spiciness - clove, black pepper, some funky yeast, as well as an earthy, leafy hoppiness. The carbonation is very soft, the body full, round, smooth, and slick. It finishes clean, and pretty dry, the grain and spice staking their claim.

Given the very fall-like weather that we've been having for the past few weeks, my harvest mentality has definitely set in (California grape shipments are imminent!). As I am a few levels removed from any actual harvest, this beer definitely helps out. It is a solid example of the style - very flavourful, and everything in equilibrium. Spicy, fruity, yeasty, it's got it all. And at a pretty normal ABV, easy as pie to put back.

Photo of Metalmonk
4.18/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Had this one at Salt, a cheese-tasting room in Vancouver, B.C. Was impressed with it then and hope to be now. Note: brewed with all the usual stuff (water, barley malt, hops and yeast) and then black pepper. Hmm.

Bountiful two-finger head of latte-like foam with a rush of bubbles up through a copper/sunset/amber color. Head never totally disappears and lace clings to the glass in a thick wall. Very Belgian indeed, as far as its looks go.

As per style, yeast forms the basis for the aroma, bringing various herbs and spices to mind, and sure enough I'm getting black pepper. It's not overdone, and I ain't sneezing, it seems to be added in just the right amount to offer a bit of extra personality. Some mellower fruit elements creep in as well.

Speaking of mellow, the flavor delivers a gentle, delicate mixture of herbal, spicy and lightly fruity characteristics. Yeast plays a part in the profile and some fresh-baked wheat bread and toffee/butter hints follow through behind it. Reminds me of Van Steenberge's Bruegel in a way, in its gentleness and subtle flavors.

Fittingly, the mouthfeel is silky and soft, just right for the flavors, although it might be a tad thinner than it could've/should've been.

A wonderful saison, which has become a popular style for North American brewers to tackle as of late. Thankfully it offers something more subtle and less spice-driven than its modern counterparts on this side of the world while doing its representatives from the original homeland proud -- reason enough for any Belgian and Belgian-style fan to seek it out.

Photo of Sammy
3.62/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Derek's bottle and he has confirmed better on tap. Good summery beer, altough not great for style, yellow with bubbles and creamy, soapy head, lacey. Peppery white, although it says black pepper. A little funky tasting, yeasty aroma, and a little lemon.

Photo of CanuckRover
4.77/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a lighter copper. Big pillowy head settles fairly quickly to a thin ring of film. Lacings are spotty. Loads of bubbles floating to the top.

Wonderful yeasty aroma with a really refreshing fruit character, almost pineapple-like.

Mmmm. Refreshing right up front with some very subtle hopping. Light biscuity malt takes over, given a bit of an edge by the lovely yeast flavours. Finally the black pepper comes through, really nice and a great contrast to the initial refreshing sweetness. Finished quite dry, peppery notes linger for a good while.

Excellent mouthfeel, carbonation really piques your interest and the smooth body doesn't disapoint.

A fantastic beer, should have brought back more!

Photo of joemcgrath27
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - hazy copper orange, 2 fingers of soapy head, dissipated slowly leaving random lacing
S - very fruity with apricot, orange, yeasty esters, and subtle clove sipce
T - fruity blend of peach, apricot, and banana quickly gives way to clove, ginger, pepper, and bready malt, extremely flavourful
M - big body carbonation, very tart the spices really get into your nose
D - so rich in summer fruits and spices that I can imagine people waiting for this to be ready come summer, big kick in flavour and feel, but a pleasure to drink at any time in my opinion

Photo of ChrisCage
4.33/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Poured into a pint glass, though it's my wide topped Heineken glass....was met with a super nice foamy head that was at least three fingers thick, eggshell in color and with excellent retention! The lacing is super plush on the side of the glass as I drink this down! The beer itself is a yeast hazed rusty orange color and has fine looking bubbles rising to the top! Very enticing upon first glance!!

S- There is a lot going on in the aromas....right upfront, I detect the black pepper that was used in making this. On top of the fresh ground berry scent, there is a blend of funky yeast, banana peel and clove spice. The sweet malt is present too and helps to counter everything else....the finish has a dry spice/bitter hop aroma that ties everything together!

T- The flavors follow the aromas fairly close...banana fruit, cloves, a very modest peppery flavor, lots of rich Belgian yeast/bread like qualities....it really delicious. Overall, everything is toned down from the aroma, and I find it dry on the palate, especially at the end...a really nicely balanced and flavored brew! Just as a note, as this warms up, the peppery character becomes much more noticeable and even leaves a little zing on my tongue, just like freshly ground black peppercorns would do on my food!

M- This is, in my opinion medium-full bodied, and is smooth as silk on the palate! The richness of the yeast is really prominent, and the balancing act between sweet/fruit/spice/bitter is really great. At the same time, this is a really crisp finisher and keeps my palate yearning for more.

D- I've never had a Saison that was brewed in Belgium but this is a world class beer in my opinion and I just know that this would rank right up with the authentic varieties! Another great pick up by my wife, who got this in Victoria for me and I would definitely get this again if given the chance! Highly recommended!

Photo of Rutager
4.17/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance. Pours a fairly clear amber-gold with a thin, bubbly off white head that doesn't last long.

Smell. Fruity belgian yeast and peppery spices, just a bit of bananna and clove.

Taste. Doughy, lightly toasted malts, some Belgian yeast, a little clove, pepper and spices with just a trace of orange and lemon. Very nice.

Mouthfeel. Medium body, medium+ carbonation.

Overall. Very nice belgian style farmhouse ale with mild flavours that I would think would go well with almost any food. Really easy drinking.

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.83/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a clear golden color ale with a large foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of Belgian malt with fruity ester and light barnyard notes. Taste is not as funky as expected but notes of light barnyard and fruity ester are nice but fall a bit short from some of the style best offering. Body is about average with good carbonation. Well done but unfortunately lacking some character.

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.02/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap @ Garrick's Head

A - Medium orange; cloudy. A ring of off-white head.

S - Sweet bready malts, Belgian yeast and a big banana aroma with some spice in the background.

T - Clove, Belgian yeast and banana with a good spice profile in the backgound and some sweet breadiness.

M - Medium body. Moderate carbonation.

Photo of ritzkiss
3.79/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Edit: 11/06/09

Grabbed the last bottle from the shelf - good sign.

Still heavy carbonation out of the bottle but manageable, raises a couple fingers of nice rocky head. Leaves light, patchy lacing down the glass.

Looks great, clear burnt orange/ harvest orange color that has hints of brown. Tons of bubbles.

Smells has some vague fruity esters, lemons, a hint of pepper, almost a hint of tea leaves.

Taste is a light and springy: the lemons mix with a slight breadiness, pepper notes jive with a hint of earthiness, a herbaceous hops quality leaves a slight drying in the finish.

A little light on the body. Not too bad though. Upon re-drinking I can gladly up the score a bit but still feel there are better saisons out there. This is one is unique in coloring but I feel fails to deliver in complexity of flavors. Light drinking and an excellent option for summertime and decks. Another good brew from Driftwood.

Photo of EspressoGuy
3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: amber with orange hints; low carbonation; transparent
S: low intensity grapefruit rind, pine, nutmeg, bread dough
T: clean, broad, malty, well-balanced; more spicy maltiness than hoppy character; bitterness is there from the start and builds till it's prominent --but not excessiveness-- in the finish. Leaves a nice rich lingering aftertaste.
M: medium-modied
O: not particularly complex but rich and enjoyable. Very nice with simple hearty country food (ploughman's lunch, lentil soup or salad...)

Photo of papat444
3.75/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to mgermani for this one.

Enjoyed this last Wednesday night and shared partially with my wife with our supper which was spaghetti with a garden-style sauce.

Poured from a bomber, best before Dec. 5, 2009.

Appearance: Big cloudy yellow/orange body with a mega huge head that is easily 4-5 inches. A little too much foam for me. I liked the fact though that it seemed to bubble and make gaps in the head.

Smell: Tart with lemon, pepper, yeast and fruit esters.

Taste: Lots of lemon i found with a bit of pepper that becomes slightly more pronounced as it warmed. Taste is subdued IMO. A little tartness with a good mix of floral flavors.

Mouthfeel: Mild with an active carbonation. Glides easily down the throat though i found it it be a tiny bit watery.

Drinkability: I'd say yes. It was good though not great. No troubles drinking it.

Overall: I think i would like to try it fresher next time. Though the style is cellarable, maybe this particular beer is better when fresh? Worth a try for sure.

Photo of FondueVoodoo
3.91/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Fantastic colour of deep super clear copper, very low head with only a minimal thin layer lasting. While not dealing with the beers appearance it's worth noting the simplicity and clarity of the label. Driftwood uses icons to lists the ingredients, for me it stirs a confidence in being able to see the minimal list of ingredients.

S: Sweet malts and yeasty high notes with a hint of pepper. Tiny bit of hops, or citrus fruits at the end. It's a great balance of malty earthiness and very subtle citrus after notes.

T: Balance of yeast and rich mildly sweet malts and after taste of citrus peel on account of the hops. After spending the majority of the day running errands this beer is the perfect cap to sit and enjoy with a hardy meal. It's the balance that is most striking and comforting.

M: Tiny bit of sting from the carbonation on this medium bodied ale, again it's the balance of airy carbonation and thin syrup mouth feel that stands out.

O: Well balanced easy drinking ale. I would pair this easily with a hardy meal intended to draw the day to a close. Whether it's steak and potatoes or roasted root veggies, this beer tastes like comfort.

Photo of spinrsx
3.5/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bomber - Thanks to Lubiere for sharing

Appearance - Clear copper colour with a small size sizzt off white coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation and there is some faint lacing. The head lasted for around 5 minutes.

Smell - Malts, caramel, hops, herbal/earthy notes, spices

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and the taste is made up of caramel and malts mixed with some grassy hops. There is a hint of spice and some strong herbal notes. It ends with a slightly spicy and malty sweet aftertaste.

Overall - Not what I was expecting from a Saison. The taste is fine but it's a little too earthy/herbal and boring for me. Some of the taste reminded me or the flavours found in Beau's beers. I wouldn't seek this one out.

Photo of SebD
3.75/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: It has a nice hazy golden/orange color to it. It has a nice off-white head that dies down moderately slow and leaves some nice lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of Belgian yeast, black pepper, cloves, banana and some breadiness.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has some Belgian yeast, black pepper, cloves, definite banana and some sweet bready malts.

Mouthfeel: It has a low-medium carbonation with a nice overall balance and feel. Body is definitely thinner than I thought it would be. I actually find it a bit watery.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied by good flavors and aromas. This is the first time I'm disappointed with a beer from Driftwood. Maybe it's because I had really high expectations but it's still a good Saison nevertheless.

Photo of LampertLand
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-poured into a pilsner glass , a nice inviting rich copper , minimal head that receded leaving some lace on the glass
S-some fruityness like banana bread in the front with black pepper in the background
T-the mix of flavors follow the aroma fairly close , fruit followed by spices
MF-good body , medium to full , enters the mouth nicely then burst's with sweet , fruit , bitter , spice , a crisp finish that will slightly sour the longer its held in the mouth
Ov-a well balanced saison , pleasant to taste and very easy to drink

Cheers LampertLand

Photo of noeldundas
3.8/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A drinkable beer for sure.

But as a Saison I really found it missed the mark. I've had it on tap at the Alibi room and in bottle and I find it not quite dry enough and somewhat lacking in character for a Saison.

In the bottle it comes quite clear, with a light gold/copper. Hints of pepper and fruit with malt. med.high carbonation and a slightly malty finish with low bitterness.

As I said, a good beer in it's own right, just not comparable to saisons of belgium or even better US versions (North Coast Merle) which I think is a risk of brewing around such distinctive styles.

FWIW - drank it on Aug 6th, best before date of Nov 09.

Photo of JasonLovesBeer
4.16/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This has been a staple all summer for me, just a great thirst quencher with a little more character than the typical pale ale.

Nose: Spicy! Lots of spice, from pepper to nutmeg to clove to steak spices. Some banana and apple/pear.

Taste: Crisp, light but fully mouth coating and nicely malted - spices both start and finish prominently, the pepper stays around for a while. Banana and apple, maybe a touch of peach? Not much breadiness for me, though what there is might be sourdough in nature.

Overall: Not a thinker, but a really enjoyable saison.

Photo of grub
4.33/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Viggo brought this one over. thanks eric!

22oz bottle. sampled july 16/09.

pours crystal clear dark amber with a big fluffy cream coloured head. the head seems to last forever and leaves a thick blanket of lace as it falls.

aroma is good. light alcohol. orange peel. light spice. nice yeasty character. bit of funky barnyard character, but very restrained. light caramel. white bread and cracker. bit of grain. big floral component too.

taste is good. light alcohol. the spicy character comes through even more than in the aroma. orange peel and a bit of fruit. nice floral character that never gets perfumey. white bread and cracker. grain. bit of slightly funky character, but again very restrained.

mouthfeel is good. medium-high carbonation level. under medium body with a fairly dry finish.

drinkability is great. very well balanced. certainly one of the better north american farmhouse ales i've had. good stuff.

Photo of HipCzech
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Serving: 650 mL bottle poured into a 0.3 L tulip glass (bottle "07.05.13").

Appearance: Slightly hazy, warm golden copper hue. Lush, bubbly off white head that slowly recedes with thick lacing.

Smell: Belgian yeast and spice (clove) dominate with a bit of malt, sweet citrus (mandarin) and funk as well.

Taste: Sweet and slightly toasty malt opens with tarter fruit, yeast and overall earthiness following. Finishes quite dry, with herbs and spice and bit of bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium body and carbonation.

Overall: Fuller bodied, malty and hearty while more restrained on yeast and spice; overall a balanced and satisfying saison.

Photo of beerayrton
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I thought for my second review i'd do one of my favourite British Columbia breweries, Driftwood out of Victoria.

Appearance - You get quite a nice rich copper colour, which is accented by a minimal head. It's not hazy at all, quite clear.

Smell - You get banana and citrus right off the bat in the front, with pepper in the back.

Taste - well, if you thought the smell was peppery, the taste hits you with it, but it's a mellow pepper. It's very present, but not so much so that it gets you over the head with a hammer. The taste gets rather yeasty, but in a good way.

Mouthfeel - With this beer you get a medium carbonation with a taste that lingers. Sour notes predominate the longer it's held in your mouth.

Overall - I like it. It's a saison that I love drinking anytime I get a chance, and it's very good, on the whole. It's not overly amazing, but definitely one of my favourites for a quiet night in.

Photo of Derek
4.03/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Alibi.

A: Gold with a white head that leaves a great lacing.

S: Peppery & grassy with hints of barnyard. The aroma is quite good.

T: Peppery spice, grass, slightly earthy, a little citrus, light tartness and a good bitterness.

M: Moderate body is smooth with a crisp, dry finish.

D: A good drinker (I'd love to have this locally in the summer!).

Brewers info...

A traditional Belgian-style Saison. Originally produced on the farm for seasonal workers during harvest. Tart malt is balanced with flavors of fruit and spice from our unique strain of Belgian yeast.

Photo of jrenihan
3.94/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 11.21.13

Beer is clear copper in colour, with a small off-white head. Head fades quickly.

Nose contains Belgian yeast and spices. The black pepper shines through. Some light fruits.

Like the nose, the flavour contains black pepper quite strongly. A bit much, but not overwhelming. Light fruit flavours bring some balance, and are quite nice. A bit of yeast.

Medium bodied, moderately carbonated. A bit spicy.

Overall, nice. Not exciting but good.

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Farmhand Ale from Driftwood Brewery
89 out of 100 based on 141 ratings.