Monday, October 10, 2011

House Beers at Farmer's Cabinet

Jo had some stuff to do this past Sunday, so I decided to head to the Farmer's Cabinet for lunch and to try some of Terry Hawbaker's new beers. I've mentioned him before, but if you don't remember Terry used to brew at the Bullfrog in Williamsport and moved to Philly to brew for the restaurant. While they had planned to create a brewery in the restaurant itself, it turned out to be impractical for a number of reasons and so the owners bought a brewery down in Virginia instead. Of course, the one they bought turned out to be a disaster, but Terry put a lot of work into cleaning it up and it's finally starting to produce results. Delicious results.

I started with a glass of the Roggen-Son, a saison brewed with rye.

Light rye nose, more sweet than spicy. Started with some rye spiciness, then a nice sweetness, and finished dry with a little bitterness. I really enjoyed the mix of sweetness and rye spice and thought this was pretty great.

Up next was Terry's entry for the Iron Homebrewer event they were throwing (more on this at the bottom) the Rauch N' Roggen, a smoked rye beer.

Sweet nose with a hint of smokiness. Similar to the Roggen-Son, this had some sweetness but then a big hit of smokiness followed. As I drank more, the smoke flavors grew a bit. I was pretty happy I only ordered a small glass since while it wasn't overwhelming a big glass would have messed with my palate and just made me taste smoke the rest of the day..

After the two rye beers, the Freshhop Saison I got next was quite a change of pace. It was also totally awesome though so that was a plus.

I couldn't believe how unbelievably inviting this smelled. Amazing things dry hopping can do I guess. Huge lemony citrus nose, very clean. Main flavors were citrus, particularly grapefruit, followed by a clean grapefruit finish. Since all of that grapefruit flavor was probably from the dry hopping, there was very little bitterness which just made the whole experience really pleasant. Just an awesome beer.

While I was there to try the Farmer's Cabinet beers I ordered a glass of the BFM / Terrapin Spike & Jeromes Cuvee, an English Barleywine aged in rum barrels, since it sounded too interesting to pass up.

Sweet and fruity nose. Really thick body. Started slightly sour, no hint of the 10% alcohol, then finished with some oaky bitterness. Honestly I thought I was enjoying this at first. The sour cherry flavor was kind of nice and it was relatively tasty. However, even with the small pour, the bitter finish on it just started wearing on me and I had trouble drinking it all. I didn't think it was bad, but it certainly wasn't good either by the time I was done.

So, I was supposed to leave at this point and was all ready to go. Unfortunately I realized I didn't have keys to my house so I would have had to sit on the stoop for a couple hours doing absolutely nothing. Whoops. Instead I stayed and tried a couple more of Terry's beers. Huge sacrifice, I know. The next was the French Country Ale.

Had a nice sweet malty nose with a lovely bready character to it. Very clean caramel and bread flavors come through while drinking. Really reminded me of a fest style beer with more malty sweetness than anything else.

With my last choice, I went with the Grisette, clocking in at a low 3.6%.

Slightly tart nose with a hint of pepper and some spiciness. Flavors followed the nose with a little bit of tartness, a dry finish and just slightly bitter. Super easy drinking and it shows if you know what you are doing you can make low alcohol beers with tons of flavor.

That was my Sunday lunch trip to the Farmer's Cabinet. Quite a bit longer than I expected but I'm certainly not going to complain. Terry is an exceptional brewer and I cannot wait until the brewery is totally up to snuff and he can brew anything he wants. It's amazing that he brewed most of these without any temperature control! I got to talk to him for a bit too, which was really fun, and he mentioned things were fermenting at like 100 degrees which is just crazy. It must have been a ton of work just to get things in line to brew these batches and he did a great job.

Oh and the Iron Homebrewer thing I mentioned earlier was sort of a homebrewing riff on the Iron Chef. Homebrewers were given the main ingredient, cherry wood smoked rye, and had to make a beer to compete with Terry's Rauch N' Roggen. Tough act to follow for sure. Dunno who won at this point but hopefully the Farmer's Cabinet will announce it at some point.

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