In an age when limited sanitation resulted in suspect water supplies, farmhouse ales were brewed to provide a safer alternative for thirsty field workers. Originating in rural Belgium, they were typically low in alcohol and designed to refresh on a hot summer day. This week's trio combines a nice level of complexity with an easy-drinking style.
The Commons Brewery Urban Farmhouse Ale
A hazy, lemon yellow in the glass, this brew is topped by a paper-white head that collapses quickly but leaves a nice lacing. The fruity nose is colored by soft hops and coriander, while the floral palate is marked by bright citrus and apricot with a touch of white pepper. Light carbonation makes this a quaffable and refreshing ale from this Portland, Ore.-based brewery. It comes in a large 750 ml. bottle perfect for sharing.
Hof Ten Dormaal Blond
This unfiltered brew pours a cloudy, dark straw color with an amazingly persistent three-finger head the color and consistency of sea foam. As Matt, the Boise Co-op Beer Guy, put it, the "nose is a study in rustic complexity." You get a mix of yeasty grain, citrus, orchard fruit, light hops and smooth malt. The beer is both rich and refreshing on the palate with creamy green apple, fresh bread and just a hint of spicy orange zest on the deliciously dry finish. This is an outstanding Belgian farmhouse ale.
Mikkeller/Stillwater Two Gypsies Our Side
This collaboration between two innovative gypsy brewers, Mikkel Borg Bjergson and Brian Strumke, was created at Maryland's Dog Brewing. It's a golden pour with an explosive, off-white, porous head that tops the glass but collapses quickly. You get a touch of herb and spice on the nose along with resiny hops and citrus. This is definitely the most hop-driven of the trio with a nice core of yeasty citrus fruit and a clean, dry finish. This beer is a deliciously unique take on the style.