I have enormous respect for the Heavy Seas brewery, which is a local company here in Maryland. (In Baltimore.)
If you’re in the area, definitely take their brewery tour. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a small brewery, so it feels like half-way reasonable step up from homebrewing. IOW, you can still understand what’s going on and relate it back to what you do in your basement.
And after the tour you get to sample their wares and talk with the staff.
So yesterday I was at the local totally awesome liquor store (Corridor in Laurel) and saw a new Heavy Seas brew: Red Sky at Night.
You know the old rhyme. Red at morning, sailors take warning. Red at night, sailor’s delight.
Red Sky at Night is labeled a “Belgian Style Saison Ale.”
My interest in farmhouse ales arose from a local homebrew Christmas party, where one of the brewers was kind enough to bring his farmhouse ale. It was fantastic.
So when I saw an article on farmhouse ales in some beer magazine, I dug right in. Unfortunately, the article left me with the impression that the style is a little too broad to mean much of anything. I wasn’t exactly sure what would qualify something as a “farmhouse ale.”
And the southern Maryland homebrewer’s farmhouse ale was nothing like Red Sky at Night.
So I remain somewhat unsure exactly what “farmhouse ale” means. But this isn’t a review of farmhouse ales.
Red Sky at Night strikes me as a mild introduction to the distinctive flavors of Belgian ales. IOW, if you don’t like the subtle tones that distinguish Red Sky at Night from your typical pale ale, you’re not going to like Belgian ales.
Making the jump from your more traditional ale — an English ale, or an American pale ale — to a full-blown Belgian tripel like Westmalle Trappist or Dulle Teve could leave a person thinking he’s left the world of beer and entered some strange new realm or alternate carbonated beverages.
The flavors are so different. There’s a strong wine flavor to a tripel — not entirely unlike a barley wine — but with fruity overtones and a little more yeastiness.
Red Sky at Night is not a tripel. It’s just a Belgian Ale. So if you were to imagine a pale ale as an introduction to a barley wine, then Red Sky at Night is an introduction to a tripel.
It has subtle hints of the flavors you get in the Dulle Teve — they’re just not as pronounced.
So if you’ve never tried a Belgian ale, definitely try Red Sky at Night. And if you love Belgian Ales, Red Sky at Night will be your go-to session beer.