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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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Reviews: 61 | Hads: 158
Photo of lacqueredmouse
3/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On-tap at Alibi Room in Vancouver, BC.

Pours a deep amber colour, almost flecked with copper. Head is a mild, filmy white that leaves some spidery fine lace. The worst part, however is that it just looks flat and still. C'mon, this is a saison! I want it Alive!

Nose is lean and soft, without much funk or acid (or acid funk?). Some honeydew melon rind and a bit of green organics is as close as it gets. It's pretty mild all up, without a lot going on.

Taste is similar. Smooth, mild Belgian notes, backed with just a touch of green vegetative organics. No funk, no yeast notes (apart from a hint of that round Belgian sweetness), no real saison character. It feels very weak, limp and insipid.

This is a very average saison, without much going for it. It's drinkable in its way, but it's a poor example of the style. Once again, I'm at odds with the general consensus around Driftwood, but I just couldn't see the appeal in either of the beers of theirs I tried.

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Photo of Methodd
3.4/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

650mL bottle poured into a mug.

Appearance: Hazy reddish/orange. Lots of frothy, clumpy white head that never completely dissipates. Lots of curtain lacing.

Smell: Faint. Sweet fruit, herbs, floral hops.

Taste: Refreshing. Citrus, spice, pepper and a bit yeasty.

Mouthfeel: Dry. Heavy carbonation. Lots of bitter after taste.

Drinkability: I’m not a huge fan of the style but good none the less. I think this type of thing would be more suited to spring and summer; for me at least.

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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.

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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.

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

Bottle from a liquor store in Vancouver. Best Before July 2012.

A - Pours with a one finger light brown head, dark gold, bright, strong carbonation. Some chunky lace and a film of retention.

S - Sweet spice, yeast, grain, a mild funk. Hops come through and blend well bringing this full circle as a nice saison aroam.

T - Sweet spice, yeast, grain, banana and other types of fruitiness with a tiny funk in the finish. There's definitely a hop note there too but I can't tell what it comes out as.

M - Good carbonation with little tingly bubbles, medium to full body, a spicy finish, maybe some pepper.

O/D - A bit spicy for my tastes in a saison. Definitely a solid saison. The body is bigger than the style and ABV would warrant, though it's pleasant and easy to drink.

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Photo of kjyost
3.68/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Undated bomber acquired at Luxelune, Winnipeg. Poured into a weizen glass at around 4C.

Deep copper body with substantial haziness and a light white head that leaves gorgeous lacing. A muted nose at first until the thick cap drops, leaving belgian barnyard esters and a hint of peppery spice to come out from beneath it. An odd body in a way as it is quite thick and sweet, but finishes with a light peppery dryness. Too thick for a saison, but with nice esters. A nice beer, just not what I was expecting. Worth having again.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of ericj551
3.77/5  rDev -6%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Driftwood Farmhand pours a clear deep gold with a nice fluffy head that lingers. Thick lacing works its way down the glass. The aroma is dry and earthy with some light, fruity malt. The flavor is dry malt with more earthiness and fruity easters. The beer finishes crisp and dry. There may be a hint of pepper, but that could be the power of suggestion.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of flagmantho
3.8/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured from 22oz bomber into a tulip.

Appearance: medium copper hue with no haze and a moderately strong effervescence. Head is a finger of frothy white foam. Not bad!

Smell: toasty malt with some floral notes and just a little bit of saison funk. It's a bit subtle, but well put-together.

Taste: a little bit funky and almost a little sour; like the aroma, it's quite floral and a little bit toasty. It reminds me a bit of a bière de garde. It's decent, however there's a certain je ne sais quoi that doesn't 100% work for me. So, a good beer, but maybe not one that wholly suits my palate.

Mouthfeel: medium body with a huge carbonation and creaminess. Bam! Great.

Overall: this beer is definitely worth a try; however, note it is on the drier and toastier side.

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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.

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Photo of StJamesGate
3.84/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Tap & Barrel, Vancouver.
White film over burnished bronze. 4
Light floral and pencil eraser on the nose. 3.75
Honey graham, mashed pear, a touch of clove, and a zesty noble end. 3.75
Perfumed finish and honey linger.
Lt-med, smooth, clingy. 4

The most accessible farmhouse ale ever; the lightest touch of yeast and plenty of sweetness. Credit to Driftwood (if that’s what they set out to do.) Nothing revolutionary, but way sessionable. 4

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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...)

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

On tap at Hapa Izakaya in Vancouver, BC.

A-Nothing special, but not awful, either. Light gold in color and very little haze. A one-finger off-white head dissipates quickly. Lots of lacing.

S-A little funky. Some sweet yeast and a little spice. A touch of banana. Not a hop-monster by my estimate, but there was a hop note or two.

T-Tastes much like it looks and smells, i.e., a little funk and a hint of spice with a pretty sweet, yeasty backbone. More banana bread notes in the taste than the smell. Some malt flavor with very little hops.

M-Not much in the way of carbonation. Had a bready, sweet quality that I would rate as heavy medium body (for the style, especially). An easy drinker.

O-Not a bad effort... One rung below my New World saison measuring stick that is Tank 7. It wasn't a complex show-stopper, and it was a touch sweet (and probably would benefit from a little more carbonation), but I would drink this again.

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Photo of headlessparrot
3.88/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours from a bomber into the glass an orange-copper colour, faintly hazy, and capped by two fingers of frothy white, large-bubbled foam. The head recedes to a finger fairly quickly but persists there decently, and leaves a lot of lacing on the glass.

Smell is peppery, yeasty, earthy. Slight fruity esters--apple in particular. Lots of malt, and a faint funky sourness. Orange peel, lemon zest, perhaps some clove. Slightly soapy, but not unpleasantly so. Grainy with a bit of smell I generally associate most with rye beers.

Taste is the smell, redux. Slightly soapy, though again not unpleasantly. A touch of funk, a bit of sour. Cracker, rye (is there rye here in the grist-bill?), slight clove, citrus. Peppery spice. Carbonation is high-moderate, and the body is quite full. Yeasty, slightly vinous, slightly milky? Drying on the finish.

As far as saisons go, this isn't revolutionary. But it is pretty enjoyable, interesting, and shows some complexity. I've heard it said by a few people that Driftwood is giving Bellwoods and Dieu de Ciel a run for their money as "best brewer in Canada." I don't know if I'd go *that* far on the evidence of this beer, but it's certainly a nice, delicious offering.

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Photo of IllNate
3.88/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - a very clear amber with a heap of off white head. Very appealing.

S - malty and hoppy, but mostly yeasty, with a bit of funk.

T - caramel malt, with a balancing bitterness.

M - medium bodied, smooth. Well done.

O - well done beer, I imagine drinking this after a day on the farm.

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Photo of andrenaline
3.9/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a nice hazy golden orange colour, thin finger of head with little retention, leaving some lacing throughout.

S - Scent is largely bready, wheat scented malts, with a bit of a sweet kick on the finish consisting of apricots and honey.

T - Quite delightful! Although I found it a bit bland in the mouth, the flavours really come through on the finish. Fruits are bananas, oranges and apricots, while the spices (not noticeable on the scent) finish nicely with cloves, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg that linger on the palette.

M - This one is poundable! Goes down silky smooth, perfectly carbonated, though it was noticeably dry on the finish.

D - Quite impressed by this offering. Full of flavour, very drinkable and an excellent take on the Saison style. Highly recommended to anyone who can get their hands on this stuff!

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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.

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

Had this one at Volo. Served in a tulip glass.

A - Two and half fingers of off-white foam, with superb retention and tons of sticky lacing that eventually settles to a thick cap. A slightly hazed golden color that glows in the sunlight. Not really sure what else I'd expect from this style of brew.

S - Spicy Belgian yeast, pale malts, zesty orange peel, and black pepper. It's solid and pleasant, but doesn't have any of my favorite sour/funky elements.

T - The taste is pretty similar, with light bready malts, Belgian yeast, black pepper, perfume and floral notes, and fresh pears. Thankfully the spice and black pepper are held in check. Again - it's solid but a little pedestrian.

M - The texture is lovely - light tingly carbonation, medium body, super soft texture, and very refreshing.

D - I drank the whole bomber by myself, and it never felt like a chore. I'd have this one again (although probably not by myself if it was a 22oz bottle again). The clean aftertaste, low ABV, and pleasant taste make it easy to drink a lot.

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Photo of kwjd
3.93/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a clear amber-orange colour with white head. Excellent head retention. Smell has ton of spice upfront, with Belgian yeast and banana. Lots of pepper in the taste, which is great because I love pepper. Nice bready malts with the Belgian yeast flavour. A bit overcarbonated for my preference. This wasn't hard at all to get through the bomber by myself.

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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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Photo of OskarL
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear amber/copper color with a dense off-white head that has good retention and leaves nice lacing.

Smells of spicy pepper, pale bready malt with citrus and fruity notes.

Tastes of peppery yeast, bready, fruity, lemon with a tart finish.

Mouthfeel is dry, medium body with lots of small carbonation.

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Photo of msubulldog25
3.96/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A 22 oz/650 ml bottled smuggled back to the States by beer brutha/house guest Metalmonk on his Vancouver --> Portland trek. Poured to a trusty pint glass; bottle cap sticker shows Best Before 25 07 09.

Label: a simple pastel/black logo of a farmhand's pitchfork, bordered on the left by small depictions of Water, Barley Malt, Hops, Yeast, and Black Pepper(?). 5.5% alc/vol.

A: Beautiful amber, glinting in the sun. Nearly clear, shows a bounty of tiny carbonation. Fluffy tuft of white foam, building to over two fingers, dropping slowly but never disappearing. Bulky bands of lace hanging in broad patches. Just a gorgeous looking saison.

S: Sweet aroma of honey, flora, spiced cake. Subtle, but appealing, begging for a sip.

T: Spicy bread, grass & hay, mellow fruit (melon or pear) and a nice dusting of dry pepper. Bounces back and forth between sweetness, deep and earthy spices, greens and a carefully placed chalky/medicinal dryness in the end. Exactly what I was looking for to pair with a spicy/sweet pulled pork sandwich for dinner, cut straight though and married wonderfully.

M: Smooth, not quite as carbonated as expected just based on appearances. Crisp and clean, lightly bitter finish, just a little thin-feeling. Quite refreshing, just as the style should be.

D: Really good flavor, excellent look. I've had plenty of saisons, Belgian/French and North American versions and definitely rank this among the better ones, at least on this side of the Atlantic. Went down so easily, too quickly. Would gladly have this again...thanks, Jeff, for importing this otherwise hard-to-find treat!

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