Every November I travel up to Vermont with a group of my college buddies, we’ve been doing this trip for many years but it has evolved over time. For one thing, now we each get our own hotel room instead of sleeping 4-5 guys to a room like we did in our early 20’s. I’ve also helped convert a number of the guys into hardcore beer geeks, so we go out of our way to visit Hill Farmstead as part of the trip. While I love Hill Farmstead’s hoppy beers the real draw for me is their Farmstead ales, a series of barrel aged saisons that have just the right balance of fruity, funky and sour notes. I can find tons of top-notch local NEIPAs, but there are relatively few breweries that can pull-off this type of wild/mixed culture saison, so on a normal year I fill my cellar with a variety of these beers from Hill Farmstead, but that obviously didn’t happen this year. Fortunately, there are a few local breweries that are trying to make similar styles. One of them is Amory’s Tomb in Maynard, which is also the closest brewery to my house. I recently tried a bottle of Amory’s Tomb Barrel-Aged Saison Ella and enjoyed it so much I took another trip to the brewery and bought 3 more bottles. Barrel-Aged Saison Ella starts as a traditional (if somewhat strong) saison base brewed with local malts, before being aged nine months with a variety of house cultures in second use tequila barrels. It is available on a rotating basis in 750 mL bottles.
Amory’s Tomb Barrel-Aged Saison Ella pours slightly hazy pale yellow with a solid white head. The aroma features some funky and spicy scents from the fermentation. The flavors imparted by the yeast lead the way, notes of green apple, lemon, barnyard and peppercorn. You get a little sweet tequila flavor from the barrel aging, but it’s subtle. A full malt body adds hints of bread crust and crackers while some citrusy hops round out the flavor. Saison Ella is light and easy-drinking but packs some punch at 7.4% ABV. The finish is dry with some lingering funky and spicy yeast flavors along with some mild acidity. This is a stellar barrel-aged saison, complex, interesting, delicious and easy drinking. Lots of flavors, but everything works well together. A must buy if this is a style you enjoy, I would put it up against any beer in the style I’ve tried. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.
Previous Amory’s Tomb Reviews: