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Hill Farmstead’s collaborative efforts have been some of the most exciting things that we’ve tasted over the past twelve months. We previously featured their Arctic Saison collaboration with Anchorage Brewing Co. (under HF’s collaborative Grassroots label) back in mid-2013, and that one in particular still brings back fond memories. Out of RateBeer’s top 100 newly introduced beers for 2013, Hill Farmstead was involved in ten of them. For them to go in on a collaborative beer with Brasserie de Blaugies, a traditional, family brewery in Belgium we’ve featured on more than one occasion in The Rare Beer Club™—well…you’ll taste how it went.
Blaugies is particularly renowned for their La Moneuse (which should sound familiar to quite a number of you) and Saison d’Épeautre, with “épeautre” being French for spelt. That cereal grain is actually a variety of wheat, and one that finds its way into La Vermontoise as well.
Here, the spelt addition gives a glorious, toasty baseline. The pour seems ambitious: a cloud-like white head and plenty of it, a hazy golden liquid beneath, looking unfiltered, purposeful. The nose on this explodes with hay, pepper, honey, and just a hint of orange from Amarillo hops. That reassuring, wheat-y presence impacts every aspect of La Vermontoise: flavor and aromatics, to improved head retention and haze. That first sip feels like both Hill Farmstead and Blaugies: crackly, nicely dry on the sweetness scale, flawless feel, its ingredients popping.
Despite the Amarillo hop additions (generally very much in the “American” camp of citrusy varieties), this is a spelt saison first and foremost: just incredible amounts of pepper and hay and toasty wheat qualities. The prickly carbonation adds ideal texture, while the hops appear in juicy, orangey fashion on the periphery. One of the best saisons we’ve had in a long time.
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