Lagunitas is introducing a new line of beers in 22 oz. bottles under the name “Sonoma Farmhouse.” The idea according to Lagunitas owner Tony Magee is to be able to do different kinds of beers than the usual Lagunitas fare under the new label.
The Sonoma Farmhouse labels are a little more serious, less playful than the regular ones, too. They also lack Tony’s famous — or infamous — rambling label stories. But for what they’re missing on the outside, inside the bottle is another story. The first release is a Saison Style Ale, and it’s one of the best American versions of the style I’ve had. Like all good saisons, it’s very refreshing, clean and would be great with food. I’m told there are herbs and/or spices in the beer, but Tony’s not saying which one or ones. The beer has a certain zestiness so it’s possible grains of paradise are at least one of the ingredients and there are also herbal notes, but who knows. Since the yeast also imparts spicy elements, it’s always a challenge to identify the exact ingredients in these complex beers. And in the end, it’s pointless, since it’s the synergy of how all the elements work together that really matters. The Sonoma Farmhouse Saison flavors are quite delicate, a quality Lagunitas is not exactly known for, but there’s nothing I don’t like about this new beer.
Saisons were originally made by and for farmers to have in the fields. They were generally brewed late in the season so they’d stand a better of chance of making it through the summer. Saisons also walk a tightrope of strength (to last the summer) and drinkability (they need to quench a summer thirst). At 5.2% abv, this one is quite modest, but happily we have refrigerators, a luxury the French and Belgian farmers who pioneered this style did not.
Next up in the Sonoma Farmhouse line is Hop Stoopid, something on the order of a triple IPA, around 100 IBUs. Meant to be a gentle spoof of the increasingly hoppy west coast beers, bottling should begin on Wednesday and be in stores shortly thereafter. I’m told it’s a huge hop bomb brewed with hop oils and hop extracts to really ramp up the bitterness. I’m going to the brewery on Thursday to try some of the first bottles. Tony has done some hop bombs before over the years, and as someone who has definitely acquired a taste for bitter beers, I suspect this beer will seem like night and day to the delicate flavors of the Saison.
Lagunitas’ flagship is their IPA, itself an excellent example of a west coast IPA and quite hoppy, though still well-balanced.
The next Sonoma Farmhouse beer from Lagunitas, Hop Stoopid.