Beer Review: Florence (Hill Farmstead Brewery)

Beer Review: Florence (Hill Farmstead Brewery)

Florence by Hill Farmstead Brewery, named after their grandfather’s sister (Great Aunt).

Get out of work Saturday at 8PM. Frustrated, annoyed with how the day ran out at work, I quickly zipped from Grantville to Marysville, arriving at the new Liquid Noise Brewing at 8:20PM. Circling the lot once…. twice…. thrice…. I finally find a parking spot.

Having read the Facebook post, I have wallet and card in hand. I go through the sliding door and present my ID to the guy standing there. He says something. I can’t hear him over the band and I stare blankly at him. He repeats it, louder now – “Sorry, we’re at max capacity.” I kind of blink and say something to the effect of “Oh”. …. “Oh crap.” …. “Wow.” He nods. I turn and leave. Figuring out what I’m gonna do or how long I’m willing to wait, I plug some time in at the Dollar General next to the brewery, pacing through the ran down aisles with stuff laying all about. I come back out five-six minutes later to see a handwritten piece of paper on the door “Sorry, max capacity. No entries.”

Knowing the band ends at 9PM, I figure maybe I could get in after that (their open to 10PM), so I decide to head over to Pizza Boy’s in Hampden/Enola, which according to trusted Google Maps is 10 minutes away. I zip over there, and enjoy two brewskies before heading back to Liquid Noise and getting in.

But this isn’t an article about Liquid Noise. This is a beer review about Hill Farmstead’s Florence. The first of two beers I had at Pizza Boy while waiting. And this is downright a delicious beer fully worthy of a beer review. ….I mean….why else would I be writing this then right?

Firstly, anytime you can find Hill Farmstead on tap in Central PA you gotta jump on it. No questions asked, its such a rare treat, and such a wonderful treat, you need to get as much as you can and as quickly as you can since you have no idea how long it’ll last. And surprisingly this lasted from Wednesday or Thursday to Saturday (and presumably into Sunday, since I didn’t kick it). I remember past times when Al would put Hill Farmstead on tap on a Tuesday, and the kegs would be kicked by Tuesday evening. So I was definitely surprised this was still on tap Saturday evening.

And I was so glad it was!

Much like the name has significant meaning and background to the Hill Farmstead Brewery, the name Florence does for me as well. My great grandmother (paternal side) was Florence Speck. A feisty woman who lived to be 99 years old. Born Florence Edith Yeagley on July 13, 1905, and sadly passing away on January 5th, 2005. She lived a rough life on a farm growing up, with a mean father who often beat her and her siblings for not “doing enough around the farm” despite being under the age of 10. She had my grandmother as well as four other children, her youngest she was pregnant with while my grandmother was pregnant with my aunt. Before I was born, in the 70s, while her husband was driving (she never learned to drive and never had a driver’s license) they were in a horrible car accident, killing two people in the other vehicle. Her legs were broken, and while in the hospital, her husband (my great grandfather) stricken with guilt hung himself. She wasn’t even able to make it to his funeral. Years later, sadly dementia and alzheimer’s struck, and for the last several years every party she thought was her 99th birthday party, and in the cruelest sense of irony, when it was finally her 99th birthday party, she had no idea everyone was there, celebrating for her.

She was the sweetest, kindest, fiestiest great grandma one could ever had. When my father was in college and stilled live with my grandmother (and whom my great grandmother lived with) she would regularly steal his beer. Always knowing where his hidden stash was, and knowing he couldn’t say anything or do anything about it because my grandfather was so against alcohol. She was an incredible knitter and quilter making beautiful quilts for all of her children, grand children, and great grandchildren.

So, just like how Hill Farmstead has significant history, reasoning, and background in naming their beer after their great aunt, I have some significance in drinking a pint in fond memory of my own Florence. And while sitting alone at Pizza Boy, drinking this, I recalled all the great memories of my dear Florence, just like I imagine the brewers / owners of Hill Farmstead do whenever they drink a bottle of this as well.

With any labor of love, especially one in honor of someone, you know there is going to be an extra level of craftsmanship involved. And this is certainly no exception. And I will do my best to provide it with a fantastic beer review that it deserves. And with a fine beer comes a fine review (hopefully, fingers crossed, I’ll let you be the judge of that).

Beer: Florence
Brewery: Hill Farmstead Brewery
Dated: 8.22.19
Style: Farmhouse Ale – Saison
ABV: 5.2%
IBU: None
Untappd Write-Up: Florence (1915-1967) was our grandfather’s sister, and Hill Farmstead Brewery rests upon the land that was once home to her and her 13 siblings. In her honor, this Belgian inspired Wheat ale is crafted from American malted barley, Organic Vermont wheat, European and American hops, our distinctive farmhouse yeast and water from our well. It is unfiltered and naturally carbonated. Soft, cloudy, and fresh, this is the ale that I dream to have shared with Florence.

I got to try this on tap / draft at Pizza Boy – Al’s of Hampden. Normally this comes in the large bomber style bottles. I will have to pick up a bottle of this to try it that way as well (as well as to keep a bottle of it for the office shelf).

Appearance is a light yellow golden sun coloring. Its bright, its yellow, and its lovely looking. It looks like a farmhouse ale, a saison, or berliner weisse. There is a thin head to it with nice carbonation that left beautiful lacing on the glass. The head had good retention and small thin bubbles. The bright yellow sparkled in the lighting on the patio area of Al’s. It’s cloudy, obviously unfiltered, and not transparent at all.

Aroma was full of various notes. Wheaty, hoppy, yeasty, notes of the tartness, you can smell the tart, you can smell the wheat, you can smell the hops, the distinct house yeast strain of Hill Farmstead, you can smell the grain, the well water. All extremely distinctive and noticeable. Some slight spice notes, like coriander, almost witbier esque. There is quite a bit of a Belgian nose to this, with the coriander and other spices note. Belgians have such a distinctive and quantifiable nose to them and this is certainly no exception.

First sip is an exquisite joy. You get saison. You get Belgian. You get witbier. You get wheat blonde. You get so much and more, all straight out of the gate, first sip, explosion, 0 to 60 in .00001 seconds. You immediately get a rich, full beer in the first sip. You pick up the Belgian in-house yeast strain, the organic wheat native to their farm, all with the underlying tart funkyness that comes with the saison. Slight tartness. Whole lotta farmhouse. You pick up some of the Belgian spices, coriander, orange rind, you get some deep wheat, barley, and a great water backbone to it. Nothing thin or light about this. Its full bodied, unfiltered, and its powerful. For only 5.2% you get a ton of taste. Remember folks – ABV does not equate taste. Low ABV can be still full of high octane taste, and with some (lesser) breweries high ABV doesn’t mean full taste or body either. (Sadly.) But thats not the case here, this is low ABV and high taste. A perfect combination to let you enjoy a TON of these bad boys while hanging around a farm, just taking in the view, and talking about old times with older family members. This would be the perfect backporch sipper with family listening to old family stories, of a great grandma or a great aunt, their tales of growing up on a farm, getting up at 6AM to milk the cows, feed the chickens, get the eggs, etc.

This beer is why you hear so much about Hill Farmstead Brewery. Why its a top destination and even more so a top brewery. Why they are so proclaimed and why people are so enamored with them. You can tell the level of care and love that goes into their beers just by sipping this beer, by reading its description, by seeing the presentation of the bottle.

My Untappd Rating: ****.25
Global Untappd Rating: 4.22 (as of 1.30.20)

Today is my last day off (Thursdays are my Sundays, Wednesdays are my Saturdays), so I will probably do the next of the Tree House beers before going to D. Scott’s to do the next podcast tonight. So far in the Tree House Series, I have done Sap, Autumn, and Haze. This evening I’ll (hopefully, fingers crossed) do Julius, and perhaps tomorrow will do my final one – Doppelganger.

I also welcome you to check out some other recent articles we’ve done – like our massive Brewery Review / Visit to Mellow Mink and the subsequent beer review of Scarlet Sunrise: Blackberry and Blueberry.

Also, in sad news, I did a recent article about Crystal Ball Brewing’s (from York, PA) closing. Sadly it seems we’re due for more of these happenings in the upcoming year. I hate to seee breweries close, people lose money, dreams, and jobs, but sadly it seems we’re heading for this in a fair bit of time.

I was just at Boneshire Brew Works last night playing Rad 80’s Trivia with my sister and brother-in-law to celebrate his birthday (so shout out to Amado, happy birthday). They had a new stout on, and I might be doing a review of that soon. Or Pink Hippo, another new beer of theirs. Or maybe both. But either way, you can check out some beer reviews of theirs I have done: The Hog, Dillston, Harrishire, Tried and True (Mango), and Iscariot.

I might also do a small write-up about the Hummelstown Winter Fling that me and Lily (my 10 year old daughter) went to, where I got to try some beers, and the Liquid Noise goings-on Saturday night. But I might save that, since talking with Brad Moyer, we might be doing a bigger, more in-depth article, so I might just wait for that.

Either way, lots of stuff going on here at The Beer Thrillers, so please be sure to like, subscribe, follow us, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Cheers everyone!

-B. Kline

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