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The 10 Best Farmhouse Ales (Saison, Bière de Garde, Grisette, and Sahti) of 2022

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There is something so poetic about a farmhouse ale. Sipping on one evokes visions of fields of golden grain waving in the wind and bucolic farms filled with rolling hills, pastures, and meadows. 

Which isn't too far off, considering that farmhouse ales gained their name from those very places. 

Traditionally, brewers in France and Belgium made these beers in the winter, storing them until they were ready during the hot summer months, when laborers would drink them throughout the day as they tended the crops. 

Often referred to as saisonniers in French, these farmhands drank beer for the people. We're not talking about expensive ingredients and crazy adjuncts here. Local town folk made these beers with whatever they had on hand, often crops leftover from the previous year. 

These are simple beers reminding us of simpler times. 

French vs. Belgian Farmhouse Ales

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Photography courtesy of Journal Le Soir

Throughout history, farmhouse ales picked up nuances based on where they were brewed. 

For example, in France farmhouse ales became known as bière de garde ("beer to keep" in French). Capturing more of the funkiness of farmhouse ales, French bière de gardes were also a little sweeter. 

On the other hand, in Belgium, saisons (literally translating to season) dominated. These beers run a bit more of the flavor spectrum, fluctuating from crisp and hoppy to tart and sweet. 

What Defines a Farmhouse Ale?

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Photography courtesy of John A. Paradiso

More of a category than a single style of beers, farmhouse ales usually encompass a variety of beers such as saison, bière de garde, grisette, and sahti. But in general, farmhouse ales have similar features. Mainly, these beers are effervescent and sunny with a touch of funk often described as hay.

Hey, another farmhouse reference. See what we did there? 

We tend to drink farmhouse ales in the warmer months because they're thirst-quenchers—dry, but crisp and light, yet packed with flavor. Consider farmhouse ales like the goldilocks of beers—they're just right. 

The Rise and Fall and Rise of Farmhouse Ales

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Photography courtesy of John A. Paradiso

As one can imagine, the popularity of farmhouse ales correlated directly with the rise and fall of farming. 

With the advent of the industrial revolution and the regression of farming, farmhouse ales...well, almost bought the farm. 

But today, the modern craft beer industry has breathed life back into this country craft. Sure, brewers no longer make farmhouse ales for those out picking crops and toiling in the fields, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy them out on the back patio or in a beer garden. 

Many breweries around the world have hung their hat on these homesteading beers, but two in particular have perfected this pastoral pastrime: Hill Farmstead Brewery and Side Project Brewing.

Unsurprisingly, you'll see the list below dominated by these agrarian beasts. 

Whether it's a saison or a bière de garde, sipping on one of these brings us back to a simpler time. 

And we could all use more of that these days.  

Untappd's 10 Highest-Rated Farmhouse Ales of 2022

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Photography courtesy of Brasserie Auval Brewing

1. Tête de Cuvée (Vintage 2019) - Side Project Brewing

Tête de Cuvée (Vintage 2019) label

Tête de Cuvée (Vintage 2019)

Side Project Brewing

Farmhouse Ale - Saison

Total (?) 1,243

Unique (?) 1,160

7% ABV

No IBU

(4.47)

1,046 Ratings

2. Saison Espinay - Brasserie Auval Brewing

Saison Espinay label

Saison Espinay

Brasserie Auval Brewing

Farmhouse Ale - Saison

Total (?) 8,635

Unique (?) 4,398

6.5% ABV

30 IBU

(4.23)

4,128 Ratings

3. Florence Foudre - Hill Farmstead Brewery

Florence Foudre label

Florence Foudre

Hill Farmstead Brewery

Farmhouse Ale - Saison

Total (?) 1,499

Unique (?) 1,342

5.2% ABV

No IBU

(4.4)

1,201 Ratings

4. Soignée Cherry/Raspberry - Hill Farmstead Brewery

Soignée Cherry/Raspberry label

Soignée Cherry/Raspberry

Hill Farmstead Brewery

Farmhouse Ale - Saison

Total (?) 1,316

Unique (?) 1,238

5% ABV

No IBU

(4.36)

1,114 Ratings

5. Coeur de Cuvée (Blend #6) - Side Project Brewing

Coeur de Cuvée (Blend #6) label

Coeur de Cuvée (Blend #6)

Side Project Brewing

Farmhouse Ale - Saison

Total (?) 1,183

Unique (?) 1,103

7% ABV

No IBU

(4.35)

1,005 Ratings

6. Anna - Hill Farmstead Brewery

Anna label

Anna

Hill Farmstead Brewery

Farmhouse Ale - Saison

Total (?) 61,384

Unique (?) 43,725

6.4% ABV

No IBU

(4.26)

39,267 Ratings

7. Coeur de Cuvée (Blend #4) - Side Project Brewing

Coeur de Cuvée (Blend #4) label

Coeur de Cuvée (Blend #4)

Side Project Brewing

Farmhouse Ale - Saison

Total (?) 1,578

Unique (?) 1,491

7% ABV

No IBU

(4.33)

1,314 Ratings

8. Arthur - Hill Farmstead Brewery

Arthur label

Arthur

Hill Farmstead Brewery

Farmhouse Ale - Saison

Total (?) 68,240

Unique (?) 47,450

6% ABV

No IBU

(4.26)

42,565 Ratings

9. Arrière-Pays - Brasserie Auval Brewing

Arrière-Pays label

Arrière-Pays

Brasserie Auval Brewing

Farmhouse Ale - Grisette

Total (?) 5,943

Unique (?) 3,538

4.5% ABV

No IBU

(4.14)

3,317 Ratings

10. Florence - Hill Farmstead Brewery

Florence label

Florence

Hill Farmstead Brewery

Farmhouse Ale - Saison

Total (?) 43,170

Unique (?) 32,437

5.2% ABV

No IBU

(4.23)

28,877 Ratings

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