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Farmhand Ale - Driftwood Brewery

Not Rated.
Farmhand AleFarmhand Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

61 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 61
Hads: 158
Avg: 4.01
pDev: 14.71%
Wants: 11
Gots: 16 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 61 | Hads: 158
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!

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

A - deep orange glow, haze, white head gently floats on top, leaves some lacing behind.

S - peaches, apricots, herbal spice, earthy, fresh, but not in a bright floral way, more of a wet soil right after a rain kinda thing, I dunno. Different, but good.

T - dry, musty, earthy, herbal, damn... some really dry biscuit malt, I mean dry, lacking sweetness, but not overdone, fresh cut wood, well integrated flavours, pepper is really nice, not hot, hops don't jump out at you, but are firmly there, superb, lingering aftertaste

M - the carbonation isn't huge, but the mouthfeel is still quite lively and spritzy, dry, lip smacking finish

D - very quaffable, very thirst quenching, very flavourful, what more can you ask for?

I heard about this beer and new brewery months ago, and was intrigued, yet also cautious... new brewery in Victoria, pushing a session saison as one of their standard offerings... I'm thinking "lame wheat beer with some gimmick spices." WAS I EVER WRONG!!!

Most of my experience with commercial saisons has been of the heftier variety, which are very good, but lack that thirst quenching, refreshing quality that saisons historically had (supposedly, based on the reading I've done). Most of the lighter ones I had tried came off as poor attempts. NOT THIS ONE!!!

This beer rocks! It is world class! You need to taste this beer! It is truly satisfying! Exclamation mark!!!

Thanks to Canucklehead for sending me this very fine beer!

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Photo of PacificNorthWester
4.53/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours a nice zesty orange-yellow color in the glass with little foam. Nose of the beer yields notes of pepper, grass, light hops, and a hint of spice (very faint). Upon sipping the beer one is exposed to a nice tango of tang and pepper, resulting in a refreshing first sip. Over the course of enjoying this beer I particularly thought that the grass and pepper characteristics never over powered the other. Buy this for a refreshing break from the IPA's crowding the shelf.

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Photo of darryletlesballons
4.52/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've been "checking in" on this beer every now and then for a few years now, as much a review of my partialities as of the beer itself. Still a favorite.

Visually appealing golden-amber beer with a full white head. I enjoy the gritty interplay of spicy clove and pepper on a sour base. Reminds me of a grassy Wit with more spice to bite, ending on the same dry "where-did-all-my-saliva-go" finish. Definitely the aroma of Belgian yeasts up front, setting the stage with a light sour grassiness and hints of tart apple followed by cloves. Not too much, not too little for flavour.

Until next time Madame Farmhand.

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Photo of bobsy
4.4/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I split this bomber (cheers Eric) with my lovely wife. She's not very good at pouring beers (having somehow obtained a skill for slow low-carb pours), but even she gets a good three fingers of head atop a bright orange liquid. Great lace. The aroma instantly marks this beer out as a winner, with a complex mix of pear, pepper, grass and barnyard. I'd wear this as an aftershave. The initial flavour hit is a spicy pepperiness, followed up by citrus, earth and some mild barnyard funk. Moderately bitter, but hugely refreshing. The body is spot on, in my opinion... nicely crisp and ever so drying.

For a new Canadian brewery to open and offer a saison in its initial slew of offerings is very encouraging. For them to completely nail the style is remarkable. I think Driftwood holds a lot of promise and I'll happily hunt down the rest of their lineup. This is great stuff from Ritzkiss!

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Photo of Graham5161986
4.39/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This Belgian style saison pours a brilliant copper orange colour with a frothy, slightly rocky white head that dissipates into a bubbly film but leaves some nice lacing on my glass. I do, however, miss the classic Belgian yeast that this one just doesn't seem to have.

Smells of classic Belgian candied fruit and caramel with banana and spice (I definitely pick up the black pepper added to this one). A really nice buttery aroma wafting off this one as well.

Taste is actually quite bready up front with the spice and candied dark fruit coming through mid-sip. The finish displays caramel, bread, nuts and a hoppy bitterness that balances out the sugars. Awesome.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, very crisp and clean with a spicy finish that leaves my mouth watering.

At 5.5%, this is a very drinkable belgian style ale. It's full of complex flavours and is not too sugary or spicy. Overall, a well-balanced saison that I could see myself drinking all night long. Excellent, excellent stuff. Kudos to the guys at Driftwood for another stunning beer.

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Photo of xuptygm
4.35/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a brownish orange, very thick soapy head which recedes quickly leaving some lace but not much. I have to admit I was congested when drinking this so I do not have much to say for aromas. I gave it the benefit of the doubt with a four. A very complex and unique beer when it comes to taste. Coriander, tea, lemon, a touch of honey sweetness. A very unique malt flavor. Spicy pepper taste compliments the higher level of carbonation. A well balanced beer. Carbonation leaves a prickly sensation in the mouth yet the beer is very smooth. Overall a very easy drinking complex beer. My second favorite find from my trip to Victoria. I brought home a few bottles of this stuff. Well worth it!

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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!

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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.

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

650ml bomber poured into pint glass April17 2011

A clear golden orange with loads of bubbles that move around like snowflakes in headlights swarming in from every direction, carbonation this heavy will maintain a thick foam all the way down the glass leaving lace everywhere, first in rings then tightly packed speckles

S peppercorns and funky yeast take center stage with floral, fruity and spicy hops in the background, this ones a little hard to wrap my head around

T not quite the complexity I found on the nose but still quite nice, the spice is magnified in the mouth and hides some of what I smell but still lots of flavor for 5.5%

M enters silky then explodes to a thick creamy body mid way then a bit of a bite and a lingering aftertaste

O summer session brew to say the least, pretty complex for something I could drink a gallon of

A crash course in Driftwood 101 has been a pleasurable surprise to say the least. With some of the best beers I've had from Canada in recent memory and I still have some of their top guns to take down, I'm thinking this will be a good week. chickenm provided me the liquid textbook for this particular lesson in Driftwood 101

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

A great Saison from Victoria's newest brewery. Nice cloudy burnt-orange colour with a foamy white head. Spicy, peppery malt and hints of citrus and fruit and hops. Good spicy and malty taste - the black pepper is fairly subdued but noticeable enough to be "felt."

Slight burn to the mouthfeel, probably from the pepper but a great beer and this would probably be excellent in the summer.

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Photo of bishopgary
4.3/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a rich golden straw color, with thick 2 finger head. Great retention, slowly faded to prominent lacing. Hazy, just as a Saison should be. Glowing and effervescent.
S: Yeasty, slightly sour. Orange, pepper, clove and banana. Rounded out by a bit of malt. Somehow smells more Belgian than most real Belgians.
T: A little orange peel, and spice upfront, followed by what I would call a banana smoothness that leads up to a really good sour funk. Finishes with a peppery kick.
M: Great body, not heavy not light. Can't exactly call it medium either. Leaves your palate wanting more.
D: Really good, this could be dangerous session beer. The alcohol is well masked. One to look out for.

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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.

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Photo of scott451
4.23/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a Duvel tulip glass. A slightly hazy apricot with a massive bubbly light tan head. Great head retention and strong lacing.

Fresh malt smells with hoppy hints. Pepper overtones. Slightly fruity up front. Actually fairly mild tasting overall. Slightly hoppy pepper finish. Very well done.

Medium body with moderate carbonation. Drinkability is very good. Refreshing and very pleasant overall. I had no problem finishing the bomber by myself.

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Photo of Viggo
4.22/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle, big thanks to ritzkiss for hooking me up!

Pours a clear coppery orange, really thick off white head forms, drops down to a thick ring leaving a ton of lace chunks on the glass, looks good. Smell is real nice, sweet and malty, orange peels, light spice, yeast, toast and bread, lemongrass, wheat, very refreshing and fruity aroma. Taste is nice too, orange peel and tea up front, lemons, toast and wheat, light honey sweetness, very malty, some fruit and a touch of peppery spice in the finish. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with medium carbonation, goes down real easy. A very nice saison, I could drink a lot of this stuff. Thanks Eric!

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Photo of canucklehead
4.22/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hot damn this is one tasty Saison, big spicy and full of lots of citrus and that belgian yeastiness that defines the style. I got a lot of complexity out this beer as it warmed up and I am starting to realize that Driftwood is quickly becoming one of the best and most innovative brewers in BC( Canada?)

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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.

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Photo of Hornet2003
4.18/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

650mL bottle.

Appearance: Golden-amber in colour with a creamy white head that laces well.

Smell: Lots of fruity yeast aromas. Musty bread notes as well. Very pronounced aromas remind me of a good solid Belgian.

Taste: Nice hoppy bitterness with a fruity tang bite. Orange, banana, and lemon notes.

Mouthfeel: Nice and light. Perfect for a refreshing summer saison.

Drinkability: Extremely high. They should sell this in 5L mini kegs because it's low-ish alcohol and ridiculously refreshing. Great for a hot day thirst quencher.

Overall: I had this on-tap at Alibi room a while ago and am reviewing this from a bomber I bought after the initial taste. Such a smooth drinker and one of the most thirst quenching beers I've had in a long time.

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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.

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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.

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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

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

a: This was a coppery, golden color. It poured with a sticky, frothy head.

s: Barnyardy, yeaty phenols, bananas, and a nice, sharp, spicy pepper note.

t: Dry and refreshingly tart with a faint, burnt plastic flavor at the finish. Also, some fairly strong spicy notes of pepper and cloves.

m: Viscous, with creamy carbonation.

d: A very nice saison, one of the top three brews I tried on this trip. I wish I had been able to bring some home.

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Photo of cratez
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

650ml bottle purchased by my dad at The Brewery Creek Liquor Store in Vancouver, British Columbia. Pours a hazed amber gold with two fingers of bubbly, eggshell white froth and strands of lacing on the stemmed wine glass. Smell and taste are fresh oranges, lemon, faint nuttiness, clove, dried mango, a tad earthy and resinous, jujube candy, marmalade, smooth and tart maltiness, green banana, mildly citric orange peel bitterness, fleeting finish. Mouthfeel is crisp and peppery spiciness upfront, prickly tang on the tongue, passing dryness to end. The black pepper is evident in the aftertaste. This reminds of Black Oak Saison, but with a few more nuances due to the beefier grain and hop bills and higher ABV. Seems like a pretty versatile beer, good for sessioning after a hot day or pairing with a light meal. Overall it's a nice quaff in the summer season.

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Photo of Bunman3
4.1/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Yes please. This is an incredibly accessible saison. The grainy, malty, spicy edge comes alive in your mouth. This was the perfect beer to kick off my summer holiday!

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Photo of Trosevear
4.09/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 650ml bottle

L: Amber Yellow Orange colour with a nice white head leaving lacing down the glass as it dissappear.

S: Citrusy sour smell to it with almost a sweet bubblegum tone.

T: Coriander and a slight bitterness to it with a tart taste.

F: Light bodied with a nice mouth feel.

O: A very nice easy drinking beer. Although not my favorite saison.

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Farmhand Ale from Driftwood Brewery
89 out of 100 based on 61 ratings.