Farmhand Ale - Driftwood Brewery

Not Rated.
Farmhand AleFarmhand Ale

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BA SCORE
89
very good

60 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 60
Hads: 153
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 4.73%
Wants: 9
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: 60 | Hads: 153
Photo of biboergosum
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
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. (1,420 characters)

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. (582 characters)

Photo of mactrail
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
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. (596 characters)

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.02/5  rDev 0%
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. (322 characters)

Photo of LampertLand
4/5  rDev -0.5%
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 (551 characters)

Photo of HipCzech
4/5  rDev -0.5%

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. (640 characters)

Photo of beerayrton
4/5  rDev -0.5%
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. (912 characters)

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. (375 characters)

Photo of Siriusfisherman
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A nice Saison with a great peppery yeast character and nicely carbed body. The hops are not a dominant as some of their other beers, but they do lend a nice herbal presence to go with the yeast spice. The brewers here seem to know how to make great beer, haven't had anything I did not find great. (297 characters)

Photo of chickenm
3.99/5  rDev -0.7%
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. (259 characters)

Photo of msubulldog25
3.96/5  rDev -1.5%
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! (1,611 characters)

Photo of OskarL
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
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. (311 characters)

Photo of jrenihan
3.94/5  rDev -2%
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. (459 characters)

Photo of kwjd
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
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. (357 characters)

Photo of FondueVoodoo
3.91/5  rDev -2.7%
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. (1,163 characters)

Photo of MasterSki
3.91/5  rDev -2.7%
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. (1,038 characters)

Photo of andrenaline
3.9/5  rDev -3%
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! (833 characters)

Photo of headlessparrot
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
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. (1,209 characters)

Photo of IllNate
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
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. (288 characters)

Photo of EspressoGuy
3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
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...) (502 characters)

Photo of spoony
3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
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. (937 characters)

Photo of StJamesGate
3.84/5  rDev -4.5%
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 (453 characters)

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
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. (410 characters)

Photo of noeldundas
3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
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. (641 characters)

Photo of flagmantho
3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
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. (770 characters)

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Farmhand Ale from Driftwood Brewery
89 out of 100 based on 60 ratings.