The featured beer painting of the day is of Arthur Farmhouse Saison by Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro Bend, Vermont. This beer is a world-class saison! Tart, spicy, and peppery with a bit of Brett to make it just funky enough. This beer is unique and amazing, and is a perfect dinner saison, one that you would be proud to serve at a Thanksgiving dinner. At 6% ABV, it isn’t too strong, nor too weak. Light yellow in appearance with a nice heady foam that dissipates very slowly.
Prior to my visit, I called the brewery, and Shaun Hill answered the phone. I asked if I could paint live in the tasting room and he said that he wouldn’t mind if I painted outside. I thought it was too cold to paint outside, and replied that I’d prefer to work inside. Little did I know, that there are no tables at this unique and crowded brewery. I was surprised when I arrived after such an amazing experience at Brewery Ommegang, an orderly establishment that was very welcoming, to find a line almost out the door at Hill Farmstead that was looping around a barn-like tasting room. We arrived about ten minutes after opening, and asked if there was a special release today, but one of the regulars replied that, “It’s always like this.” There were two lines: one for growler fills and tastings, and one for bottles. I slipped into the much shorter bottle line and bought this bottle of Arthur, but was told not to consume it on premise, which is understandable. So I asked if I could see what the beer looks like when poured into a glass so I could paint it, but was told that I needed special permission, which I felt I had, but I didn’t press the issue. My wife decided to wait in line for tasters while I worked outside, and asked me in a low voice, “Are you sure you want to paint here?” I replied that this was my only opportunity to paint at this world-class brewery, and reminded her that I have painted in worse conditions in Alaska. She just looked at me like I was crazy, as I took my bottle of Arthur outside into the 28-degree weather.
It was snowing outside, so I decided I could paint under the roofed keg storage facility, and attempted to bust a painting out as quickly as possible. My fingers were half frozen before I got halfway through the painting. The mild gusts of wind kept blowing away all my paper towels that I use for wiping brushes, into the field. So, several times, I had to set down the painting and scurry after them feeling like a complete idiot for even attempting to paint in this circumstance. I completed the painting and went back inside nearly an hour and half later, and was surprised to see that Maria had advanced only halfway through the line. At least she got far enough to order some tasters. So she handed me her glass over the cattle rope, and I eagerly accepted it. Thirty minutes later, Maria had tasted all four offerings, but she was still far from the front of the line, so she stepped out, and we bought a bottle of Sue, an oaked pale ale, and left.
Standing in line for beer that is distributed in small quantities was a common theme during our visit to Vermont. All the good beer was a limited release, available only at a certain place, at a specific time. I think a better solution would be printing an expiration date on the bottles and cans, so people know how fresh the product is, instead of controlling the releases so tightly. Hill Farmstead definitely needs to change the process in the tasting room. Get rid of the cattle line, get some tables, and hire at least one more person to serve tasters and fill growlers. I am lucky to live in Anchorage where I can buy Midnight Sun Brewing and Anchorage Brewing beer without standing in line, and any time I feel like drinking it. I feel sorry for Heady Topper and Hill Farmstead fans, having to try so hard to get their favorite beer.