Blackberry Farm Brewery’s Boundary Tree
If you’re not a Belgian brewery, please take care when using the terms “farmhouse” and, especially, “Saison.” Sure, you can say it’s your interpretation of the style, but sometimes that’s like trying to put a square peg in a round hole … it will never fit until you make that peg round. There are many American interpretations of Saison, but certain aspects should never be ignored. Dryness and effervescence is a start.
Blackberry Farm Brewery doesn’t ignore what matters with Boundary Tree, its take on this classic style. “The intention was to make a New World Saison via hop varietals,” explains Andrew Noye, the brewery and distillery manager. “A fun modern twist on a traditional Saison.”
This 100 percent bottle re-fermented take on the Old World farmhouse-style ale uses Blackberry Farm’s classic Saison yeast, and this year’s version is hopped with Hallertau Blanc and Citra. The corked and caged packaging is quite proper—a bit fancy but very practical. A loud psst issues from the bottle as it pops and my taste buds are met with an aggressively smooth crispness, a dry grassy palate, and a spicy, fruity, slightly phenolic finish. Citra hops make sure they’re noticed, giving a quick American wink-wink, though not much of a twist as they complement everything that’s going on in this brew.
While the grain bill, which includes five different malts, is a bit more contemporary, the yeast is the star of the show with all of its rustic nuances. It’s everything you want in a Saison and then some, easily rivaling its Belgian counterparts. Memories from a decade or more ago flood my brain: I’m sitting in a cafe in Brussels enjoying a local Saison while battling a generous serving of moules frites. Needless to say, I am extremely impressed.
As for the name, it sounds simple but actually has an intriguing backstory and history. “Boundary Tree gets its name from the Meigs Line (also known as the Hawkins Line), which was surveyed in 1797 by order of President [John] Adams,” says Noye. “This line marked [the boundary between] the newly formed United States and the Cherokee Indian Nation. The line goes straight through this tree.”
If you’re looking for a near perfect example of the style, hunt this Saison down or run through the rest of Blackberry Farm’s portfolio, which is loaded with similar beers and other Belgian-influenced offerings.
Blackberry Farm Brewery | Walland, TN
STYLE: Saison / Farmhouse Ale
BEERADVOCATE.COM SCORE: 4.01/5
Look: 4.25 | Smell: 4.25 | Taste: 4.25 | Feel: 4.75 | Overall: 4.25
Jason’s Score: 4.3/5
*Available in 34 states. Blackberry Farm intends to release a New World-style Saison annually. ■