Hill Farmstead Brewery Anna Vermont Honey Ale: Brewed in Greensboro, VT at a strength of 6.5% abv this beer contains 20% raw wildflower honey from Vermont and uses their house saison yeast. Hill Farmstead is one of those breweries that you hear about, but rarely see in my neck of the woods. Unless you go to the brewery or trade with someone who does, you’ll probably never try their beer which is a real shame because they are one of the more renowned breweries on the planet. They operate on a small dairy farm in Vermont, capped at 150,000 gallons a year and the owner Shaun Hill intends to keep it that way. It’s rare even to find their beer on tap beyond the brewery (even locally it’s limited) so naturally you can expect long lineups on site which is also kind of located in the middle of nowhere. I had no expectations for this beer, which was simply described as a honey ale, but lets just say it was pretty fantastic from the get go and I’m already a fan of this brewery.
Aroma and Appearance: It pours a cloudy pale yellow colour with three fingers of foam and lots of fizzy carbonation. The aroma is spicy coriander, pepper, hay, straw, lemon and honey with a mild tartness to it on the tail end of its nose.
Flavour: The taste is quite complex for the style, featuring coriander and chili powder spice combined with lemon and apricot tang upfront and a prolific acidic lemon tartness that shines brightly in the middle, but doesn’t overpower it thankfully. As the tart notes tail off, some soothing chamomile and minerals appear, leading into a yeasty mustard seed and cayenne pepper finish that’s a bit subtle and yet deeply satisfying.
Overall Impression: Whoa, this was delightful! The words honey ale are deceiving, especially if your used to some of the macro “craft” brands or even some of the mediocre craft beer makers versions of a honey ale, as this is a farmhouse saison at its very best. I’ve never had a better version of a Saison, at least not one that’s more on the spicy side versus funky brettanomyces side like Four Winds Saison Brett. The difference makers are the yeast and the water from their well, both add some unique properties to this beer that would be hard to best (it ranks in the top 20 ratebeer Saison’s, bested mostly by other Hill Farmstead beers!).
Rating: I give it an awesome rating of 9/10, just a beautiful example of the style and worth chasing down if you can.
Food Pairing: This beer is begging to be paired up with any solid farmhouse chevre cheese.
This is where the magic happens, pretty cool looking place if you ask me!