8/16/19: Brewery Vivant's Farm Hand

6:46 PM

The sun is on its way down as I sit typing this on my porch. It's been a bit of a day. Apart from work, I spent thirty minutes fighting traffic so I could get a specific cider ingredient from a store and another hour fighting traffic to get home. I wasn't sure if I was going to brew or cut the grass this evening. In the end, I did neither.

Instead, I settled on writing this review. There's only one more post separating this from some fall goodness so, I guess for the purposes of the blog, summer's on its way out just like today. Let's celebrate that with another saison: Brewery Vivant's Farm Hand.

Brewery Vivant, as can be read on their "About" page, is based in Grand Rapids, MI. Founded upon three principles (love of traditional French/Belgian brewing, devotion to local ingredients and being a respectable business, and sharing the experience of their beer), Vivant takes heavy inspiration from Wallonia, a region in southern Belgium, from whose flag their logo is derived and from whose word for "to be alive/lively" they take their name.

Farm Hand (clicking that link'll take you to its official page) is a farmhouse ale that clocks in at 5.5% ABV. Tart and mildly sweet, Vivant boasts that it has a complexity for those who'd seek such a thing. Let's see if that's the case.

I get obvious lemon from the nose of my can, but it's not overly sour. Actually, it's not sour at all, nor is it bitter. It's more of a sweet lemonade aroma. If I really look, and I have to look pretty hard, I get a good wheatiness and some yeast, but lemon is definitely the star here. Purrl, who is not a fan of lemons, is not a fan of this beer. She gave my can three whiffs before quickly pulling away from it.

I'm happy to announce that there is some complexity in the flavor. Sure, there's a strong lemony front but, beyond that, there's quite a bit to unpack. Some coriander and a little cardamom, among other flavors I can't quite pinpoint. But, just before long, dry finish, I find something interesting: plain cake doughnut. This is wholly unexpected and something that I struggled for a few minutes to adequately describe. Good on you, kind folks at Vivant, for being true to your word: There is a hidden complexity here!

The mouthfeel of Farm Hand is indeed light. It's a perfectly crushable summer beer. With it's packaging (pint-sized can) and slight ABV, I'm half tempted to call this a lawnmower or, at the very least, one hell of a porch beer. Oh, and there's a creaminess here because, well, the wheat.

In high school cross country, we had  practice course that was just a field with some pathways mowed through it. We would run from the school to the field, only to run back once practice was over. This place was good two or three miles from the locker room. We didn't run their frequently--only once or twice--and I have no idea if our coach ever cleared us using the field with its owner. But, I loved running there.

It was in a country atmosphere, away from the light city-esque bustle of where we'd usually practice. There was plenty of space for the team to spread out. The path cut through some grassy crop (I'm going out on a sturdy limb here and calling it hay). That field, grown tall in the early autumn, is filling my memory as I sit here drinking Farm Hand.

Well, the sun is long set now. It's probably time I wrap this up. I'm impressed with what Brewery Vivant has crafted. I was expecting a simple saison, but they've given me something to mull over with Farm Hand. I'm giving my can a 9.0/10. Yet again, I'm jealous of Michigan folks who get to encounter this regularly.

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