I’ll be traveling up to Maine for Thanksgiving again and hopefully stopping at a brewery or two as part of the trip. One place that I’ve been meaning to visit is Oxbow Brewing in Newcastle. I’ve heard great things about their eclectic Belgian style beers, but the brewery is a little off of the beaten path and it’s tough to justify the detour, especially when we are traveling with an 18-month old. Fortunately, Oxbow has opened a second location in Portland, which could be a little easier to visit. They have also started distributing to Massachusetts, which makes their beer much easier to come by for those of us in the Boston area. I’ve now tried a couple Oxbow selections, most recently their Barrel Aged Farmhouse Pale Ale. The name tells most of the story, this beer is an American saison fermented in stainless steel and then aged in oak barrels with Brettanomyces. Oxbow Barrel Aged Farmhouse Ale is available on a rotating basis in 500 mL bottles.
Oxbow Barrel Aged Farmhouse Pale Ale pours a hazy golden yellow with a massive white head. The scent is a complex mixture of fruity esters, barnyard Brett and acidity. The diverse flavors from the fermentation and aging also dominate the taste. The Belgian style yeast adds notes of green apple, pear and lemon that mingles with funky Brett, a solid hit of tart sour flavor, and just a touch of oak. There is also some citrus fruit flavor that I assume is from the hops, hints of orange and mango. A light malt backbone rounds out the flavor with a little bread crust and honey. The beer is light and easy to drink, moderately boozy at 6.5% ABV. The finish is dry with a little lingering acid and some yeasty esters. Oxbow Barrel Aged Farmhouse Ale is really good, incredibly complex but still easy to drink and approachable, diverse flavors but everything works together. Wild/barrel aged saisons are becoming a favorite style and this is a stellar example. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.