Farmhand Ale - Driftwood Brewery

Not Rated.
Farmhand AleFarmhand Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

61 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 61
Hads: 158
Avg: 4.01
pDev: 14.71%
Wants: 11
Gots: 15 | 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 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 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 biboergosum
4.05/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | 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 and foamy eggshell white head, which leaves some random splotches of dissipating cloud lace around the glass as it duly recedes.

It smells of semi-sweet wheat grain, banana chips, clove and white pepper spice, a touch of vulcanized rubber (I know!), and tame earthy yeast. The taste is quite fruity - banana, apricot, some orange pith - mostly overshadowing the more demure wheat malt, balanced all by a nice even spiciness - clove, black pepper, some funky yeast - as well as an earthy, leafy hoppiness.

The carbonation is very soft, just a tingly frothiness abounding, the body a full, robust weight for a farmhouse ale, decidedly smooth, and somewhat slick. It finishes clean, and pretty dry, the grain and spice staking their final claim.

Given the very autumnal 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, in that regard. Overall, it is a solid example of the style - very flavourful, and everything resting in equilibrium - spicy, fruity, and yeasty. It's got it all, and at a pretty normal ABV, not to mention being easy as pie to put back.

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Photo of mactrail
4.03/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Fairly dark amber with a thin veil of foam in the snifter. Smooth, tangy, and spritzy in the mouth. Has a substantial feel on the tongue.

Flavors are mellow and restrained. There is plenty of the Belgian yeasty taste and the drying effect, but it's less obtrusive than many Saisons. There is even a little of the American wheat taste, but here it helps make this lighter in a nice way. A slight sweetness and a pleasant grainy edge. Quite modest bitter tang at the finish.

Overall this is an elegant and highly quaffable Saison. From the 650 ml botle purchased at the BC Liquor Store in Ladner.

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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 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 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.

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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 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.

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