When it comes to summer drinking, the key is to find a beverage that's cold, refreshing, and not too alcoholic. Wine spritzers are always a favorite, but this year we're stockpiling farmhouse beers. What's farmhouse beer, you might ask? We're so glad you did.
What Is Farmhouse Beer?
Farmhouse beers originally hail from France and Belgium, where they were made with leftover crops and natural yeast in the winter and then enjoyed by farm workers in the summer. Because they're "of the season," farmhouse beers can be unpredictable, but typically you can expect them to be semi-dry and tart, have a fruity aroma and flavor, and taste a little funky and earthy.
In recent years there's been a resurgence in interest among craft breweries to recapture this ancient European brewing style — and one of our favorite places to taste the complex range of farmhouse beers is Oxbow Brewing Company in Portland, Maine.
Oxbow is one of a spate of breweries to open in Maine as of late. There are more than 90 breweries statewide, with 16 in Portland alone. But Oxbow stands out for its farmhouse beers. Head brewer Tim Adams puts a distinctly American spin on the style by creating beers that are significantly hoppier than their European counterparts.
Originally opened in 2011 in the rural town of Newcastle, some 50 miles north of Portland, Oxbow has since expanded its operations to include the city proper. A former bakery on Portland's rapidly redeveloping Washington Avenue corridor is now home to Oxbow's blending and bottling operation, as well as a large bar and retail space.
If you're able to visit Portland, we highly recommend stopping by to taste Oxbow's beer in person. But in case you can't make the trip, we asked Tim to recommend his favorite brews.
6 Farmhouse Beers to Try This Summer
- Loretta: This style of beer, called a grisette, is a wheat ale, low in alcohol (4% ABV) with a "nice European hop character."
- Moon Rocks: A blend of a wild fermentation and a grisette, this ale is tart, crisp, and perfect for hot days.
- Crossfade: Tim calls this hoppy, tart saison a "crusher." Bonus: It's also available in bottles and sold out of state.
More Farmhouse Beers
Visit Oxbow: 49 Washington Ave, Portland, ME