By Mark Tichenor, Rochester Beer Correspondent
If that beer happens to be of a typical Belgian saison style, those folk tales would inform you that ales of that ilk were once brewed by farmers to nourish their field hands during the long days of the harvest season. Since most farmhouse ales hover around 7% alcohol by volume, however, it is doubtful that any meaningful quantity would be conducive to bringing in the Brussels sprouts.
"If you're drinking 7% beer all day, there's no way you're getting farmwork done," says Dave Schlosser, brewmaster and co-owner of Canandaigua's Naked Dove Brewing Company. "They probably drank beer, but it was closer to 4% ABV." and that was the target for Naked Dove's new seasonal Farmhouse Ale.
Now the facts of historical record have ruined many an awesome folktale (I'm looking at you, Catherine the Great), but in this case reality does little to diminish an excellent beer.
One sip conveys that Naked Dove Farmhouse Ale would indeed be refreshing during a long day's manual labor. It's light and prickly, almost a bit champagne-like, on the palate, yet maintains a hearty biscuit-like core flavor. Belgian character explodes in the mouth on the swallow, lighting off grapefruit and clove notes, quickly smothered by a dry, gently bitter finish that serves as a reminder of how quenching that mouthful just was.
Schlosser has brewed what just might be the ultimate session beer of the summer. In doing so, he aligned with the growing trend toward lower-alcohol beers over which people can actually converse and socialize.
Naked Dove Farmhouse Ale may buck the prevailing trend of exra-strong Belgian style beers, but it would fit perfectly into the beer culture of a European nation such as Belgium, where, rather than just serving as a vehicle to get blasted, their beer is part of society, culture, and yes, their folklore.