By very special arrangement from Stu Stuart of BELGIAN BEER ME! Beer Tours of Belgium, we are pleased to bring you this BrewView of Brewery Vivant’s FARMHAND French-Style Farmhouse Ale. If not for Stu’s generosity in sending us this sample, we would (more than likely) not had this opportunity to try it, due to the fact that Brewery Vivant’s beers are mainly found in Michigan, Indiana, and Chicagoland. Their website does state however, that their beers can be found in many specialty stores and grocery stores.
QUICK HINT: If you’re looking to travel to Belgium anytime soon, you’ll want to check out Stu’s excellent Beer Tours at BelgianBeerMe.com!
ABOUT brewery vivant
Brewery Vivant is a environmentally and socially conscious craft brewery that seeks to “Beer the Change” through its tireless efforts of educating its customers and the public on running their business according to the three pillars of sustainability; Environmental Integrity, Social Equity, and Economic Viability. In addition, the brewery produces award-winning beers served with their carefully designed menu at the brewery’s onsite pub. Their mission is to provide a welcoming beer-food experience in a setting that resembles a well appointed church on the inside.
ABOUT THE OWNERS
Jason Spaulding is the President of Brewery Vivant. He has been brewing beer since college (or maybe a little before that but don’t tell his mother) where he discovered that beer can taste good if made well. He started at Hope College where he majored in soccer, but graduated from GVSU with a BS in Health Science and the intent to become a physical therapist. Luckily for all of us, a trip to Colorado changed his plan and instead he opened New Holland Brewing Company in 1997. Jason led NHBC for 8 years, establishing himself in the brewing community as an innovator and all around good guy. NHBC was a success, but Jason departed when he realized that he and his partner had conflicting dreams for the company.
Unsure of his next quest, Jason spent two years working as VP of Business Services at Lakeshore Advantage in Zeeland. He learned a lot about what it takes to successfully run a small business, but more importantly, he confirmed that the only thing he had passion for was owning another brewery. With that, Jason threw out his neckties and enrolled at the Doemens Brewing Academy in Munich, Germany. At the end of his course, Jason and Kris traveled through small towns in Southern Belgium and Northern France visiting small farmhouse breweries. They tasted incredible beers and met many artistic brewers, building the foundation of Vivant.
Upon his return, Jason worked for a year as a Bar Manager with Zingerman’s Roadhouse in Ann Arbor where he learned their secrets to great food and great service. He then returned to West Michigan, found a funeral home chapel & fell in love with it, found ways to open the business despite the bad (really bad) economy and sucky bankers. Now he is making beer and happy again.
Kris Spaulding manages the people and planet aspects of Vivant’s triple bottom line focus while her husband and business partner Jason concentrates on the company’s profitability. She was the driving force in the pursuit of Vivant’s LEED and B Corporation certifications and is an advocate for businesses engaging with their community in a meaningful and impactful way. Kris plays an active role in building the West Michigan B Corporation Network and is also on the board of her neighborhood association.
Kris has always been passionate for environmental and social issues and received a BS from U of M in Natural Resources and Environment. She started out her career in the non-profit sector with USPIRG (Public Interest Research Group) where she was the canvas director in the St Louis office focusing on environmental advocacy, consumer rights and government reform. She then worked at Herman Miller for 12 years where she held roles in dealer development, product management, and the environmental team. Kris also received an MBA from GVSU during this time. (Source: BreweryVivant.com)
To discover even more about Brewery Vivant’s social and environmental practices, visit the following links at their website:
BEER STYLE AND COMMERICAL DESCRIPTION FROM BREWERY VIVANT
Style category: French-Style Farmhouse Ale / Saison
There was a time in old world France when nearly every family farm had a brewery. A necessary part of farm life was to provide a ration of beer to laborers, as beer was safer to drink than the water of the time. (Has to do with water carrying bacteria and alcohol killing said bacteria. Yay beer!) Farm Hand is our interpretation of what these rustic beers must have been like. It is slight in body, mildly sweet, and has a slight cloudiness from the simple un-malted grains similar to the period.
This beer is one of the owner’s favorites. Inspired by a trip to France and a lengthy discussion about farmhouse ales (over a few too many farmhouse ales) with a French brewer from a small family run brewery.
OUR BREWVIEW OF BREWERY VIVANT FARMHAND
APPEARANCE / THE POUR:
5.5 % ABV. Poured into a tulip-shaped glass, and served at 40°F. Pours a straw color, with a SRM value around a 3. The white colored head pours an easy 3-finger height, and has a rocky density with small and large bubbles. As the head collapses, the Brussels lacing it leaves behind is even sheeted and coats the glass very nicely (we did ensure that this was a “Beer Clean” glass).
The meniscus is medium rising, there is a gentle haze to it, and there was actually yeast to be collected at the bottom of the can- so of course, we did! The rim color variation is slightly lighter than the body of the beer.
AROMA / BOUQUET:
The aromas are of the classic farmhouse Saison type- grassy, herbal, Meyer lemon pith, a little bit of funk, with a nice blend of malt sweetness rounding out the bouquet. As the beer warms up a bit, the malt aromas become more evident.
Definitive tart citrus flavors of lemon, balanced nicely with the hop bitterness, with a surprising light sweetness. There are subtle hints of basil and coriander, along with a faint hint of biscuit. The flavors of this beer are a bit more refined than the standard Saison, which makes FARM HAND very easy for the first-timer to enjoy.
MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
Delightfully crisp, light bodied, hits the front of the tongue very quickly, and hits the back and the sides of the tongue and mouth, in terms of feel. The finish is not too dry or tart- there is a slight malt sweetness which makes it gently refreshing, and a ever so slightly creamy in the overall texture.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS:
APPETIZERS: Rich, washed rind cheeses, blue veined cheeses, goat cheese. From Brewery Vivant’s Pub Menu: Crock O’ Pickles, Escargot, Vivant Charcuterie, Monk Salad.
ENTRÈES: Moules en frite (of course!) pastas with white cream sauces- (the beer will help to cut the buttery richness). From Brewery Vivant’s Pub Menu: Pasta Bouillabaisse, Duck au Vin, Risotto.
DESSERTS: Tart, lemony desserts are in order- Lemon Meringue Pie, Lemon Pie Bars, Lemon Sugar Tea cookies, Lemon cheesecake. From Brewery Vivant’s Pub Menu: Vegan Pepitas Depression Cake.
Brewery Vivant’s FARMHAND is a very easy drinking beer, and would be a great gateway beer for the macro beer drinker wanting to venture into the world of American craft beer.
The brewery knew what they were doing when they formulated this beer- the bouquet, the taste, and the finish are such that the first time drinker would find drinking it pleasant and not off-putting.
Certainly an excellent session beer, it would be a great addition for long conversations. One can picture a painting of a quiet Wallonian countryside with grassy fields, casual walking paths and the iconic barn in the background while drinking this beer. Envision older men sitting at a table at one of the classic Belgian or French pubs, engaging in lively conversation about life and the world around them- like a Cézanne painting come to life.
We were very pleased to have the chance to try this very well made French-style Farmhouse ale. We wish to thank Stu Stuart of Belgian Beer Me! once again for sending us the sample- Merci Bien! After trying FARMHAND, we would love the opportunity to try the other beers from Brewery Vivant some day- hopefully soon! Our best wishes go out to Jason and Kris Spaulding- your mission is praiseworthy and noble! And for you, the craft beer drinker reading this BrewView, seek this beer out and pay the brewery a visit!
925 Cherry Street
Grand Rapids, MI