“In keeping with the sense of place at Blackberry Farm, our brewery and processes are rooted in centuries old traditions. We are respectful of the time honored methods of making beer, while constantly pushing the boundaries to employ modern techniques to enhance the complexity of our releases. We create beers for a moment. Whether it is celebrating a special occasion, pairing with fine food, recreating, or just enjoying the day. The right beer is the perfect complement to marks life’s moments both big and small.” -Brewery Mission Statement
Blackberry Farm isn’t just known as a cozy rural resort in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains anymore. In 2011 the vacation spot’s rich culinary and beverage standards were enhanced with the addition of a farmhouse brewery. Already providing renowned chefs and a world class wine cellar in their hospitality experience, the addition of an authentic old world brewery puts this remote getaway on an even bigger map. And for good reason, their beers are delicate and delicious; and their execution is an homage to tradition and terroir.
In 2015 the brewery expanded its production capacity, and more widespread national distribution followed; currently covering 38 states. The majority of the brewery’s distributed output is done in the style of rustic European Saisons and Farmhouse Ales. Many of the beers are experimental variations on the classic Saison yeast strain. Sourcing many of the ingredients locally is also part of the focus.
“Saison” is French for “Season.” The seasonal workers who often drank farmhouse ales on farms in Belgium and France were called “Saisonniers.” Seasonality of the available portfolio is a factor as well. Grain bills and hop profiles of the brewing process change throughout the year, giving drinkers a more tailored experience. In Europe, Saisons were often brewed for the purpose of having something safe to drink, and were also thus consumed with meals. As fine dining is part of Blackberry Farm’s mission, they craft their beer to be well-paired with a variety of dishes.
Blackberry Farm release their beers in both 750ml and 375ml bottles with a cork and cage. The beer is unfiltered and bottle conditioned at cellar temp before release. Their beer is ready to drink now, but are also well suited for cellaring. Stored properly, their beers will continue to change and evolve over months and years time. Many of their beers prominently feature that wild and crazy yeast Brettanomyces. Brett beers are perfect choices for the cellar. Given time, they can drastically change in flavor and aroma profile. And in a serendipitous poetic turn - many of the styles that they emulate originate in the Wallonia Region of Belgium, and Blackberry Farm is located in Walland, Tennessee.
Classic Saison nails its name right out of the bottle. The beer pours a hazy, golden straw-colored hue, with a pillowy white head. True to the Saison style, the high level of carbonation bears long head retention, with abundant lacing on the glass. Big aromas of bread, hay, citrus and funk meet subtle banana, clove and spice. The taste dry, funky and slightly tangy. Big bready malts meld with peppery spice. Grassy and wet-straw funk elements meet lemon/citrus zest. A medium body and delicate but active carbonation leave a dry and slightly tart finish.
A classic Belgian Saison yeast strain is used for fermentation. Even without the Brettanomyces of many of their offerings, earthy farm flavors are upfront and present. And though Brett can do a lot for a beer’s cellerability, this unfiltered Saison will still keep and develop for a long time to come. Standing up to its contemporary domestic examples, or the traditional players like DuPont or Blaugies, this beer holds up. It stays true to the promise of its name. This is truly a Classic Saison.
Bottles are available at all three Mike’s locations. This beer in particular is available in 750ml bottles for $15.99 a piece. Be sure to check out their other Blackberry Farm offerings, including non-saison brews like Roasted Cherry Stout and Abbey Tripel. With attractive packaging and quality taste, these bottles make great additions to your next special occasion, or just whenever you feel like a treat. Come and see us for some today!
Have a great day, and Cheers!
Jeremy Morton | Mike’s Wine & Spirits