Beer: Farmhouse Red
Brewery: White Birch Brewing
Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Wine glass
Drinking Establishment: A New Brunswick apartment
Primary Consumer (s): Ally and Kerensa
Sight: Opaque maple syrup-hued body, with hints of pink and orange. Creamy tan head with huge bubbles that resemble a boiling cauldron. A blizzard of yeast particulates float around at the bottom of the glass.
Smell: It smells distinctively of Fruit Roll-Up. It’s quite sweet, with a generic berry scent. There’s also a hint of ethyl alcohol. (These Fruit Roll-Ups are not for kids!)
Flavor: It bears resemblance to a Raspberry Lambic upfront, followed by a bit of a yeast/bread flavor. There’s a slight trace of spice, but it’s almost not even worth mentioning. Despite the average ABV, the alcohol makes itself known and distracts from the almost pleasant flavor. As it continues to sit, and we continue to drink, it begins to taste just like strawberry rhubarb pie.
Feel: Thin body with moderate carbonation.
Concluding Remarks: Well, as we’ve said, the Saison is one of the most ambiguous beer styles out there. In that tradition, this Farmhouse Red, straight outta New Hampshire, pushes the stylistic boundaries of what a Saison could be considered. It’s not your typical Saison, but it’s nearly as complex as one.
While the raspberry flavor is interesting, the major flaw in White Birch’s Saison is the obnoxious alcohol taste. However, as noted by the label, this is the first incarnation of the Farmhouse Red–batch numero uno. We have no doubt it will develop into a more satisfying Saison as the brewery continues to brew it up. But it’s just not quite there yet.
After coming to the conclusion that the ‘Red’ in Farmhouse Red is the strange combination of strawberry and rhubarb, we serendipitously realized that we had strawberry rhubarb pie in the refrigerator. So, clearly, we needed to test this pairing, using the Scientific Method.
Research question: Does this beer taste good with strawberry rhubarb pie?
Results (using a control group): Sometimes combining two good things doesn’t equal a better thing. The pie renders the beer less sweet and more bready, though it does mask the alcohol.
Recommendation: Enjoy separately.