September 23, 2011

Holland, MI: New Holland's Farmhouse Hatter

What? The bottle says it's a Farmhouse IPA -- so is it a Saison or an India Pale Ale?

Well, it's both. On a recent trip up to Ann Arbor, Michigan, I stopped by Whole Foods to see what "the Wolverine State" had to offer. This 22 oz bottle from New Holland Brewing grabbed my attention -- the label is great, and the description was pretty intriguing:

"Fermentation character from Belgian-born yeast envelops bright hop character with a spicy, tart farmhouse funk. Pairings: seafood, fennel, mushrooms, pickled veggies."

Lacking any seafood, fennel, mushrooms, or pickled veggies, I had to try the Farmhouse Hatter straight up.

As you can see, the beer poured a huge head which continued bubbling up for several minutes. There was a big citrus and floral hop aroma -- Cascade, if I had to guess, but don't hold me to it. Also a caramel sweetness in the smell. My first reaction when I tasted the beer was that it was way out of sync with the smell -- a bit of a shock. The main taste was the tartness, the "farmhouse funk" that comes from the Belgian yeast they used.

As I went deeper into the bottle other characteristics started to come through. I found there to be more hop bitterness than hop flavor, but there was still some citrus action in there. Overall, I thought the beer was highly sessionable, despite all of the unusual flavors mixed together. Very similar to the Springhouse Ale I had a couple weeks ago, and for a beer with an identity crisis, it turned out to be very interesting and easy-drinking -- not an easy feat!

Cheers to New Holland for pushing the boundaries!

Here's a close-up of the character on the bottle:

Sorry Johnny Depp, this guy's way cooler.