There is a debate that exists in the brewing industry…actually, there are several. The biggest debate probably swirls around what constitutes a craft (1)One of the lesser ones that you might hear coming up from time to time was put forth by Frederick County’s own Frey’s Brewing Company in this tweet from last week…


Frey’s Brewing (@freysbrewing)
Organic labeled beer = ingredients organically grown. Shouldn’t Farmhouse labeled beer be made on a farm? #NoFakeLabel


I’m not going to get into the vagueries of the way that federal authorities regulate “organic” products, or fail to, as the case may be, but the estimable Mr. Frey presents an interesting question. Should the term Farmhouse, particularly given “truth in advertising” and labeling laws, be reserved for beers made on farms?

It’s a bit of a conundrum.

Over the years the term Farmhouse has become interchangeable with Saison. Mostly because Saisons originated on the farms in Europe. It was, historically, a simply made beer, made by the farmers in open fermentation vessels.

One Saison was not necessarily like the next due to the variations in the wild yeast floating about a given farm. There was a definite “no two are the same” thing going on with these beers.

They were THE farmhouse ale. Well…those and Biere de Gardes.

Farmhouse is often the parent term for these two styles, and is found on the labels of many beers that come from breweries that typically are not farms. Of course, those originally brewing the farmhouse beers might have been brewers, and were definitely farmers, but they were usually not breweries as well. Home brewing was enormously common for a very long time – but that’s a different article.

But given that background, should the term “Farmhouse” on a label be reserved for only those beers brewed at farm breweries? With the advent of a farm brewery license here in Maryland, and roughly two or three dozen farm breweries now existing around the country (including three here in Maryland, and more on the way) is it more important now than it was in the past?

Is it important that Farmhouse ales in the United States are actually from farmhouses?

Let the debate commence.

Tapped and Uncapped

This week’s recommendation is uber-local. For those of you who have been enjoying the Riot Rye from Monocacy, the North Market brewery has rolled out two additional beers. Today I am talking about one of those – Red All Over. This beer will appeal to those of you looking for that beer with a strong malt backbone, but still like to get a hit of hops. Additionally, I found that this beer grew on me – the more I had of it, the more I was enjoying it.

Currently, you can find this on tap at Brewer’s Alley, and it’s available in the Monocacy tasting room after the weekend tours.

Until next week, be well and drink good beer.