On the way home from work last night I swung into our small town’s relatively new package store, Merrimac Liquors, to see if I could find something new to try. A husband and wife team took over a terrible excuse of a liquor store that was typically full of overpriced Bud/Miller/Coors and dust-covered bottles of booze. A HUGE difference since the change of ownership. A fantastic craft beer selection for a small shop, with a great focus on New England breweries.
Given the recent ventures into Belgian beers, I thought I’d see if there was something new to catch my eye. Took me a while, they are continuing to add new lines to the craft beer selection. I finally went with one I’ve seen for a bit, but had been hesitant to pull the trigger on, Boulevard Brewing’s Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale. If you’ve read my previous Belgian-related entries, one of the first farmhouse style beers I had a year ago just left a bad taste, so I’ve been weary. But recent discoveries like Backlash Belgian Blonde and Notch Session Saison have convinced me that these styles are definitely worth examining further. Got home to an empty house as the girls and my wife were off to a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese’s (multi-bonus… got the house to myself for a couple hours AND didn’t have to go to Chuck E Cheese!). Popped the top from one of these uniquely shaped 12 oz bottles and poured into a Stella Artois chalice glass. The foam burst up and actually overflowed a bit, with a splash still in the bottle. Oops. As the head settled a little, I got that effect in which the foam against the glass goes down, leaving a taller round center of foam in the center. I typically get this when brewing with a decent amount of wheat in the grain bill, so I made an assumption this is also brewed with wheat. Good level of carbonation as well obviously.
The smell reminds me of the banana I was getting from my own homebrewed sasion that is almost ready to bottle. Reassuring that perhaps mine isn’t too far off from the style. The aroma isn’t just banana, but it’s fruity for sure, attributable to the yeast I assume. Not getting too much hop aroma, BUT it could be that I’m just having a hard time discerning it given the strong esters from the yeast. A sip and I am thrilled. Orange and grapefruit up front, but a peppery spicy somewhat dry finish. And the mouthfeel is a good medium. Given the dry finish I was almost expecting the body to be a bit thin but it wasn’t at all.
After a few tastes I look at the bottle to see this is an 8% beer! I figured 5.5-6 maybe. 8%! Yikes. Best be careful here. As I worked through the remainder, I did get a bit of warmth that I would attribute to the alcohol. Not unpleasant at all.
Now that I look at their website, they list the ingredients:
Malt/Aduncts: Corn flakes, Malted wheat, Pale malt, Wheat
Hops: Amarillo, Simcoe, Tradition
The American hops are definitely a move away from traditional Belgian farmhouse ingredients, but they work well, adding to the citrus aroma and flavor. Corn flakes surprised me, but then, these beers are certainly not restricted to specific grists. My saison, based loosely on the grain bill from Pretty Things Field Mouse, has a large percentage of malted rye, plus malted wheat, and flaked wheat along with the pils based malt. Plus, I added cane sugar to the boil in order to build up the ABV while helping it finish dry. Possibly the corn flakes do something similar. I will need to research that more.
So I highly recommend this Farmhouse ale. The hops (and slightly higher bitterness of 38 IBUs) make this an American-ized version, but Farmhouse beers typically pulled on local ingredients, and Boulevard Brewing IS in Kansas City, Missouri. 😉