At some point this week there should be a new beer going on tap at the pub. The easiest way to describe this beer, thanks to Ryan Hale, is to refer to it as a Norther Michigan Black Farmhouse Ale. However, to understand what that means and why that title alone makes this beer unique, takes a little more explanation.A few centuries ago, Farmhouse Ales (also referred to as Saisons) were typically brewed by farmers in Northern France and Belgian solely as a means to refresh, sustain, comfort, and pay farm laborers during the late summer harvests. Usually brewed in late fall and winter, many Farmhouse Ales do not share identifiable characteristics and often lacked consistency from batch to batch. As a group, these beers were usually described as refreshing summer ales that had distinctive qualities depending on the farm brewer, available crops, and ingredient substitution, which commonly took place in times of shortages. Whether the farmer had an abundance of rye or wheat, or had to substitute juniper and spices to make up for a lack of hops, these beers personify regional origins and open mindedness directly by the intention of their creation. Most styles have guidelines and requirements for a brewer to follow, allowing them to determine how closely their version meets the definition. Farmhouse ales embrace variations and unpredictability, encourages the brewer's individual artistic expression, and help form a sense of connection for the consumer. Although they are typically hard to define, most sources agree that Farmhouse Ales and Saisons range from deep golden to amber in color. The fact that our brewers chose to incorporate specialty grains like midnight wheat and black malt instantly gives our take on a Farmhouse Ale some unexpected distinction. Taking it a step farther, by acknowledging the occasional need to substitute ingredients and wanting to add their own signature origin twist, the guys decided to add their favorite regionally distinctive ingredient for Northern Michigan, blue spruce tips. The finishing touches come during fermentation with the use of Belgian Saison yeast, which adds the unique spiciness and fruity tones often found throughout the flavor and aroma of the beers brewed with it. Certainly one of a kind, yet somehow stylistically on point, try some when it's on tap at the pub and taste the transcendence of Short's!
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