One of my haul of Belgian ales acquired from Belgiuminabox late last year, La Vermontoise (6%) is notable in my selection for being a collaboration, on this occasion between Brasserie de Blaugies near Dour, Hainault, in spitting distance of the French border, and Shaun Hill of Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro, Vermont.
It‘s also notable for another reason. It’s truly excellent. I’m not one for taking too much heed of RateBeer but I couldn’t help noticing the through-the-roof scores this beer has received, while reading up on its provenance. It truly deserves them.
La Vermontoise appears to be Blaugies’ standard (but certainly not ordinary) spelt-based Saison d’Epeautre (an old favourite) given a heavy dose of American Amarillo hops. To the eye, it’s Rhineland Pilsner pale but as with many of the more rustic Belgian saisons it’s far livelier, with a massive rocky white head that’s still there at the end of the bottle.
On the nose it’s all orange essence, fresh meadow flowers and a bit of spice, while the palate offers more of the same perfectly balancing some grainy, bready notes from the ancient wheat used in its production. As it warms, both the nose and body continue to grow but the beer remains resolutely dry with a tremendous hoppy length, not overly bitter (at least not by today’s standards) but very well sustained.
The second pour (it was a 750ml bottle!) adds a fair amount of yeast haze but there’s little of the “funk” often associated with Belgian farmhouse saisons, except maybe in a slightly piney aftertaste long after the beer has departed. I’m not actually sure La Vermontoise would have benefited from it, anyway. It’s pretty much perfect as it is.