Blackberry Farm Saison
Beer: Blackberry Farm
Region: Walland, Tennessee
Hops et al: Organic/sustainable
I rarely cover beer on Pig&Vine, but this is not your typical brew. The Blackberry Farm Brewery Summer & Classic Saisons embody the complexity, balance and nuance more often associated with wine. I recently had the great fortune to speak with Blackberry Farm Brewery's Chief Fermentation Officer, Roy Milner, for a Q&A piece on behalf of my client Billy Reid, and became immediately fascinated with the farm's craft.
The blog post I wrote for Billy Reid focused on the Classic Saison, for which they'd hosted Roy's multi-city tour through a few of their shops, in celebration of the new release and the annual Billy Reid Shindig weekend. Both the Classic and Summer Saisons had just become available in Alabama, and my friends and Vine Club collaborators at The Carriage Wine & Market and I were eager to taste them.
I am nowhere nearly as informed on the beer craft as on winemaking, so talking with Roy helped me understand some fundamental differences between their beer and many other craft beers, as well as some basic brewing practices. In short, these cuvées are hand-crafted in the Old World Belgian manner, fermented slowly in bottle with seasonal ingredients, and a clear intention to produce a drink that belongs on the table with food, as we expect from a good bottle of wine. I found both the Classic and Summer Saisons to have layers of flavor and structure and incredible balance. Both finish with a crisp, hoppy note I've grown to expect in IPAs but, where most IPAs are too bitter for my taste, there's a subtle creaminess here that runs over the palate and mellows the bite. The Summer Saison is incredibly aromatic with notes of ripe peach and fresh basil. It's bright and inviting and quintessentially summer in a bottle. The Classic Saison paired well with a ratatouille of eggplant, red bell pepper, garlic and zucchini from Jack O' Lantern Farms, and white beans simmered in olive oil. This could easily become my Sunday supper of roast chicken and green salad pairing.
These beers have just become available in restaurants and retail shops this summer, primarily in a handful of Southern states and a few beyond. If you can get your hands on it, grab yourself a bottle of the Summer or the Classic Saison.