Review Date 11/22/2009
Ok, I'll admit it. I wasn't all that impressed with Terrapin's Side Project series of beers right off the bat. And I'll stand by my opinion, since I think that, while the initial few beers in the series were good, they weren't great. Maybe the folks up at the brewery in Athens, Georgia heard me, though, because I will say the beers have been getting better and better as they go along. Latest evidence of that: Terrapin Side Project 7, Maggie's Farmhouse Ale.
Maggie's Farmhouse Ale is a Belgian-style ale in the Saison style (sometimes called farmhouse ales, hence the name of this beer). These beers were once common along the French-Belgian border, brewed in the winter and laid down to be drunk in summer, when their spicy-tart character would prove most refreshing. They were generally moderate in alcohol and bottle-conditioned with yeast to preserve their stability.
Terrapin provides the following statistics on their version:
Malts: 2-Row Malt, Vienna, Rye, Wheat, Flaked Oats, Acidulated
Hops: Super Styrian, East Kent Golding, Hallertau Hersbrucker
And here's what I think:
Terrapin Side Project 7: Maggie's Farmhouse Ale pours to a very cloudy whitish-orange color with a almost no head formation and a spicy, distinctly yeasty nose. Peering into the bottom of my bottle, I see a fine layer of yeast sediment deposited there. I swirl to rouse it, of course: yeast is good for you.
Sipping, the taste buds are immediately assaulted with an array of flavors: vanilla, citrus, pungent pepper, and of course underlying it all a funky Belgian yeast character that has a quality all its own. Jimmy Buffet probably summed it up best in his song Manana:
" Don't try to describe a Kiss concert if you've never seen it"
And after a fashion, that's the case here. You really have to experience it to know it. Some beer geeks describe Belgian Brettanomyces yeast (not what's used here) as throwing off a "horse blanket" flavor. But who ever ate a horse blanket? And so it goes.
Anyway, Maggie's Farmhouse Ale finishes tart from the wheat and a little spicy, dryer than I expected, too. That makes this one heck of a quaffable brew, and at 6.0% alcohol by volume, it's not so heavy that a 22-ounce bomber bottle will leave you bombed. This one will grow on you, and one only hopes that Terrapin brings it back around for another pass.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.