Saturday, September 26, 2015

S&S Hayfield Blonde

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (1462) - Albany, New York, USA - SEP 26, 2015
Farm 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.

RATING: 8/10

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