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Farmhand Ale - Driftwood Brewery

Not Rated.
Farmhand AleFarmhand Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

120 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 120
Reviews: 54
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 9.7%
Wants: 10
Gots: 12 | 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:
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.

(Beer added by: Derek on 12-20-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 120 | Reviews: 54 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Phyl21ca
3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
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.

Phyl21ca, Dec 14, 2009
Photo of papat444
3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
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.

papat444, Nov 28, 2009
Photo of Methodd
3.43/5  rDev -14.7%
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.

Methodd, Nov 19, 2009
Photo of Grunewald
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - poured from a 650ml bottle into a tulip glass. It pours clear orange with a clumpy, foamy head.

S - yeasty malt, apple, and a light salty smell (seaweed)

T - yeasty malt. light peaches and slight hops (apple)
that linger into the finish with the malt

M - medium carbonation and body and neutral finish

D - great yeasty flavor in the malt. I could have many of these.

Grunewald, Nov 14, 2009
Photo of astout
4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
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.

astout, Sep 22, 2009
Photo of Sammy
3.6/5  rDev -10.4%
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.

Sammy, Aug 14, 2009
Photo of noeldundas
3.78/5  rDev -6%
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.

noeldundas, Aug 07, 2009
Photo of grub
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
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.

grub, Jul 18, 2009
Photo of Viggo
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
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!

Viggo, Jul 17, 2009
Photo of CanuckRover
4.8/5  rDev +19.4%
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!

CanuckRover, Jul 11, 2009
Photo of DIM
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
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.

DIM, Jun 29, 2009
Photo of Metalmonk
4.18/5  rDev +4%
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.

Metalmonk, Jun 09, 2009
Photo of markaberrant
4.8/5  rDev +19.4%
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!

markaberrant, Jun 03, 2009
Photo of Hornet2003
4.18/5  rDev +4%
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.

Hornet2003, Jun 01, 2009
Photo of msubulldog25
3.98/5  rDev -1%
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!

msubulldog25, May 23, 2009
Photo of canucklehead
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
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?)

canucklehead, Apr 15, 2009
Photo of bobsy
4.4/5  rDev +9.5%
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!

bobsy, Mar 02, 2009
Photo of ritzkiss
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
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.

ritzkiss, Feb 07, 2009
Photo of BDTyre
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
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.

BDTyre, Jan 19, 2009
Photo of Derek
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
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.

Derek, Dec 20, 2008
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Farmhand Ale from Driftwood Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 120 ratings.