Beer of the Week: Bam Biere Farmhouse Ale
The first time I had a saison, I was not sold. All that funky tang, that sweetness, that incessant carbonation. It was like someone put some bad wine in my beer.
That incident probably kept me away from saisons -- a type of very dry, spicy, wild-tasting seasonal beer -- a lot longer than it should've. After all, there are some really great farmhouse-style beers out there. And lately, beers that drink a little more like wines -- like saisons -- are becoming ultra-popular. Among them is Bam Biere, a bottle conditioned farmhouse ale from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales.
Jolly Pumpkin is a relatively new brewery from Dexter, Michigan that focuses on creating naturally fermented, bottle conditioned, and oak aged ales. All three processes can lead to some unpredictable results in brewing. But when honed properly, each can produce some truly unique flavors. American brewers are becoming more adept at fusing these Old World techniques with their bold, crazy New World-style beers, and the results are stellar.
Bam Biere is a bottle conditioned ale, meaning it was fermented in a vessel but moved to the bottle with yeast intact to carbonate and mature. It's a great example of this new breed of beer in that, on first blush, it appears to be just a mildly hoppy, shimmering ale with a lightly foamy head. But underneath that is a complexity that's not unlike a glass of white wine. There's a layer of fruity sweetness and tart tannin-like flavors, and underneath that is mild spice and a dry finish. It's the kind of beer you want to pour into a long-stemmed glass and pair up with something strong.
If you try Bam Biere, treat it like a wine. Buy a 22-ounce bottle from Whole Foods for about ten bucks, grab a couple of wine glasses, and pair it something with aromatic and creamy like blue goat cheese or sharp cheddar. Pour it small and savor, swish, and smell. You just might gain a new appreciation for saisons. I know I did.