breweries seem to be popping up everywhere these days. S&S Farm
Brewery, located in Rensselaer County is literally a tiny nano brewery
located on a farm in the middle of nowhere (my GPS took me down a dirt
road to get there). But being small and obscure is no obstacle to
brewing good beer if the brewers know what they’re doing. Hayfield
Blonde is actually one of the most impressive brews of the style I can
recall having – which is really saying something because this tends to
be one of my least favorite styles because it tends to be bland and
boring. Not that this sets the world ablaze, but I will say it has a
plethora of taste, smells and looks good and is remarkably drinkable.
I poured a 16oz growler into a tulip glass. I had it filled at the brewery for $5 last night ($0.31 per ounce).
Appearance: Definitely a blonde hue, though a bit dark and approaching
gold/maize. Near crystal clarity with steady carbonation visible. Pours
to a fairly large, white, foamy head that laces and retains quite well.
Smell: Has the overall scent of being on a farm with light grass and
hay/straw notes. Clean floral scent as well. Raw pale grain aroma is
strong – akin to smelling a handful of the barley itself.
Taste: Nobody really loves blonde ales because they tend to be bland and
boring, so any brewery that can make a genuine blonde ale (not a pale
ale or other style billed as a blonde ale) will impress me. Consider me
impressed as the palette here meets all the criteria of a blonde:
biscuity malt character, mild but noticeable floral/citrus hops; and a
crisp, clean finish. There’s a lot of raw barley flavor here; almost
cereal-like, but doesn’t have any residual sugary flavor or cloying
sweetness. There may be some wheat in here which might account for the
farmhouse hay/straw flavor. I notice a hint of honey flavor as well (not
that it’s brewed with honey, just that some lighter grains can create
for this taste). Once it warms I discover some caramel, too. Overall, a
well-balanced, memorable brew.
Drinkability: When I think of a summer beer, S&S Hayfield Blonde is
exactly what I have in mind. Though fairly light at only 4.3% ABV, it’s
remarkable efficient in that it delivers a lot of taste without the
intensity of a heavier brew. The mouthfeel is light to medium and
consistently crisp; refreshing while on the tongue and leaves almost no
aftertaste. Imagine how fun it would be to have this beer in a can.